The tradition of women going to live a life of prayer and work is as old as that of male monastics. Today I share a saying of the most famous of the Ammas.
Amma Sarah said, ‘If I prayed God that all men should approve of my conduct, I should find myself a penitent at the door of each one, but I shall rather pray that my heart may be pure towards all.’ -Amma Sarah of the Desert
Is it really important that our conduct be approved by men? Obviously, Amma Sarah says that such is an unreachable dream. The concept of being penitent to each person as a way of proving your spiritual value is rejected. Difficulty abounds when we seek individual approval because every person we approach has a different standard. The wise mother tells us to pray for purity of heart and all else will follow.
This advice would go a long way for us as we seek to follow the path of God. Surely we know there are many demands that are put upon us. Each of these demands portends to be the way of God. Now, as it was then, it is impossible to satisfy the opinions of all. The enlightening advice is to pray for purity of heart and all our goals will be satisfied. Prayer for purity of heart is the deepest and most personal of desires because it calls for internal change rather that external behavior.