Monday, February 21, 2011

OH, NOW I UNDERSTAND

“The one who understands does not speak; the one who speaks does not understand.” ~ Chinese Proverb


A long time ago I read a Cheyenne proverb, “ Do not judge your neighbor until you walk two moons (two months) in his moccasins.” This Native American wisdom struck me at the time, but it didn’t stick with me as much as I would have liked. Too many times I’ve really gotten put out with people for not handling things the way I think they should have. I find it too easy to point my finger and criticize. And there are times I’m justified. But it is during those times I need to give grace.


Why?


Because there have been and will be times I need grace from others.


This truth now looms over me since I agreed to help with a large conference that I’ve attended for years. Up until now I’ve always had an opinion and have often voiced it. Not always complimentary, I might add.


However, since I’ve slipped on the “conference planner’s moccasins” a whole new perspective has dawned on me. The enormity of the task can be overwhelming, especially when you are also handling your personal life responsibilities. Needless to say, I get it now. And in future, instead of being critical, I will offer to help.


This week, if someone isn’t doing to suit you, take a moment and breathe deep. Ask yourself if there is any way you can help remedy the situation by encouraging the person or organization. Maybe volunteer to lend a hand.


Above all, if you are absolutely sure you can do a better job, then slip on those moccasins! After that you may understand and find peace in keeping silent.







Monday, February 14, 2011

LOVE ACTUALLY

Olivia Apple

“Hollywood film directors and producers are the prophets of our generation sending a false message of love.” ~ Olivia Apple

The winter blahs had set in with a vengeance. Neal knew he had to get his girls out of the house and into the car or suffer the consequences. So he took Olivia and me to breakfast, then he treated us to a little shopping.

Good man. Smart man.

While slipping along snow packed streets our conversation turned to movies and television shows and how they affect society’s thinking. The above quote by my daughter really says it all. Over the years our minds have been slowly moved left-of-center on the true meaning of love. Now more than ever.

I was reading Steven James’ book, Sailing Between the Stars, and he makes the observation that the opposite of music isn’t silence—it is noise. A sour note that ruins the harmony and distorts the melody.

That is what has happened to love. The opposite of love isn’t hate. It is the essence of emotion that turns true love into a selfish what’s in it for me relationship.

You know the story. Girl meets boy, girl loves boy, girl jumps in bed with boy on the first date, girl hates boy, from there they either marry or go on to another victim. All of this happens within a week. Of course, this varies. Sometimes it is boy meets girl. . . and on and on and on.

But love isn’t like that.

Love isn’t about how others make us feel. It isn’t what others can do for us. It isn’t what we deserve. It is what we give. Especially when it is inconvenient, unappreciated, even scorned.

What does love look like?

It is sleep-deprived parents covered in spit-up changing dirty diapers. It is longing for the child who yelled, “I hate you!” before running from the room. It is staying with our spouse when poverty or sickness strikes.

In a word love is “sacrifice.” It isn’t about us. It is about others. The essence of love focuses on self. True love focuses on others. Love honors, cherishes, gives the benefit of the doubt, is patient when wronged. Love forgives. It seeks and appreciates the beauty of a soul instead of being attracted to the body shell—which will one day be old and wrinkly.
When you think you are in love, ask yourself this, “If this person no longer does a thing for me, if he or she grows old and ugly, if I have to give up my fun, my money, and my time for them, would I stay?” If your answer is no, then wait before declaring love.

True love is a living thing that increases in capacity with time. The essence of love evaporates with the changing wind.

Don’t let the modern day prophets of Hollywood define love for you. Rather, remember love that sacrificed his life, was willing to be spit on, lied about, made a spectacle, and still forgave.

The opposite of love, the essence, is always focused on ourselves.
Love, real love, is always focused on the other person.

Monday, February 07, 2011

MODIFY AND ADJUST







The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” ~ William Arthur Ward

I love nature and when the weather permits I am outside as much as possible. Out in the wild is the best classroom from which one can learn the best lessons about life.

One of my favorite observations is how living things grow and change. If something isn’t growing and changing, it is dead and decaying.

Life is like that. It is always changing as we grow. But I’ve noticed how we fight that change because it “isn’t how we’ve always done it.” We want to “set things in concrete.”

However, if we refuse to change, growth stops, life stops.

Think about the way life changes. We become adults, some graduate, most get jobs. Jobs change. We get laid off, we are promoted, we may be fired. Some get married, some divorce, some are widowed. We have children, our loving offspring become teenagers, grow into adults, make us grandparents. Some have accidents and are handicapped, others become caregivers, we buy homes, lose homes.

In all of this is change. We must modify our plan for life and adjust ourselves to the change and make it work for us. We are living and we can grow from change. If we stubbornly refuse and grow bitter, our lives will wilt.

If you are fighting life I encourage you to modify and adjust. Keep growing, keep living. Something beautiful can come from change!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

CHOICES AFTER A LIFE-TSUNAMI


 The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” ~ Charles Swindoll

There I was, happily playing of the beach of life, building sand castles. Then, without warning, a tsunami crashed over me, destroying all I had built. And then, when the ocean pulled its killer-wave back to the deep, I lay there in a daze. The only thing I could focus on were pieces of my dreams and hopes scattered around me.

Have you ever been hit by a life-tsunami?

Most of us have been hit more than once. And when this happens we have a choice. Either we stand and move forward, or we stay down and focus on the destruction. The choice we make will either give us wings to fly, or will slip a noose around our necks.  As Zig Ziglar points out, every choice we make has an end result.

Every path has at least two choices, one is easy and its only reward was that it was easy. Or is it? To stay down and grow despondent, bitter, or angry, is no way to live. And that darkness eclipses every thing we do and casts a shadow on everyone we are around.

The hard path is to trust again. Love again. Forgive. Try again. It is hard to quiet the whys? The what-ifs? It is hard to try and gain perspective, to get a plan on what to do and how to grow from our suffering. But this is what makes us stronger and deeper. It is what makes our lives a masterpiece.  The shadows of life, when properly applied, deepen our character, give us dimension and make us beautiful. For example, Rembrandt’s masterpiece, Young Girl Leaning on a Windowsill (1645) is mostly shadows, but it is the shadows that highlights the brightness of the girl.

And when we are walking masterpieces, not only do we affect others with our beautiful souls, we also reflect the highlights of hope.

This week do as Norwegian explorer, Firdtjorf Nansen says he does, “I demolish my bridges behind me – then there is no choice but forward.” 

Don’t let the pain of your past determine your future. Stand!