Bad News –
A new pastor, on his first Sunday, preached the sermon and following the dismissal prayer, greeted people at the door as they were leaving. A man in a bright red sports jacket was next in line and before the preacher could say anything he blurted out; “That was a terrible sermon!” Taken aback the pastor tried to figure out his next words but the man left before he could reply. After a while, he noticed the man in the bright red sports jacket in line again. This time he said; “You could not have possibly studied for that message. It was a mess!” Again the pastor was at a loss for words and the man was gone. As the line to meet the new pastor was ending he couldn’t believe the last person in line was the guy in the red sports jacket! “I don’t know if I’ll come back if that’s the best you can do!” Abruptly he walked out the door and this time the pastor watched him get into his car and drive away. The new reverend, obviously shaken by this man’s constant critique saw a group of folks in the foyer, wandered over, and asked’ “What is the deal with the man in the red sports jacket?” “Oh, don’t worry about him replied a parishioner. He only repeats what he hears other people saying.”
Bad news. Sometimes we expect it other times it takes us by surprise. No matter who we are, what we do, sooner or later we get bad news. It may be from our spouse, boss, doctor, friend, co-worker, or stranger. The challenge isn’t what to do if bad news comes but when it shows up. Our choices following an announcement of bad tidings are often more important, and have a greater impact, than the news itself. The space in between the news and the choices we make are critical. This is why wisdom, knowledge, peace, acceptance, clarity should be discovered now. When bad news comes chances are you will do what you know and many times the battle is won before the soldier takes the field.
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Unrepeatable Miracle –
I think we forget how amazing the truth that we exist. On some plane of reality, we are present. A one of a kind, never happened before, not to be repeated miracle of life.
I have been watching an unsolved mystery documentary series and a few episodes deal with the proof, or lack thereof, of aliens. I don’t believe in aliens. I understand my non-belief does not negate their existence but the more I read about science and the odds of the right planet being formed, at the right time, with the right basic building blocks of life, the critical, tenuous stages of evolution, that have made us possible, the more convinced I become we are indeed a miracle. Every one of us.
With this limited understanding and unending quest for wisdom and truth, we approach each day, hour, moment. Too often we treat our lives with disregard. “Tomorrow is a new day. I will take care of this tomorrow. I will love better, live better, be better, tomorrow.” However, in the corners of our minds, in the deepest parts of our spirits, we know tomorrow is not guaranteed. Right now is a miracle and we exist only here.
An Example –
Earlier this week I was part of a conversation where someone began being critical of another person. These conversations usually go down hill quickly but instead, the one who was being critical stopped in mid-sentence and said; “I’m going to stop talking. I have a blind spot when it comes to this person. Too often all I see is the negative and that’s not fair to them.”
I admired this person’s self-awareness and self-restraint. Most people would blame the other for their bad mouthing, continue with their complaining until they couldn’t think of anything else deleterious to be said about the other.
Self-awareness is key to personal and community growth. Being cognizant of our own foibles helps us grow in our knowledge of self and gives others an example to follow.
I was talking with someone the other day and we were trying to come to grips with a few issues which needed to be addressed so this person could move forward in life. We wanted to learn from his past but not be chained to it. One of the questions I asked was; “Who, if anyone, can criticize you?” The question hung in the air. I continued; “If we aren’t capable of receiving information about areas of our lives in which we need to improve we will never grow beyond our perception of ourselves.”
Being critical of ourselves, allowing others to shed light on dark, perhaps unexplored places, of who we are isn’t easy. I’m not sure anyone enjoys receiving an insight from someone else that isn’t flattering or realizing for ourselves we have a long way to go and grow, in multiple areas of life.
Wisdom teaches us that perfection isn’t ours for the taking but progression is a possibility. To progress, however, we must be vulnerable to the perception of weakness, habit, hurt or hang-up in ourselves and possess the willingness to accept it and begin to change.
Helping Those Who Hurt –
I have a friend who did something nice for someone last week and instead of being thanked was criticized for not doing it the way the person who needed assistance wanted it done.
We live in a world that is more divided every day. People are scared and worried about the political climate, climate change, terrorism, being harmed by one of more of the countless painful and hurtful things which exist in our world.
The only way to combat the darkness of our world is with the light of kindness, grace, presence and giving. Humility, gracefully receiving another’s selfless gift, is key to our life’s candle being lit so we can, in turn, light another.
We cannot do this if we are critical of the way our needs are met. This is like blowing out a candle being offered in the darkness.