Do you know what gets under my thin skin when it comes to winter?
Even after all this time, the sun doesn’t say to the earth, “now you owe me…..” Hafiz
This statement is part of a short poem written centuries ago. You can get the rest of it online. This part of it really spoke to me because it talk about one failing attribute of the human condition.
All of us, me included, if we give, give, give, and never receive, would stop giving if the person we were giving to was capable of doing likewise. If we were the ones always paying, always bringing the coffee, always cleaning, always volunteering, and our actions were not reciprocated, we would probably stop doing whatever it was we were doing. At least we would complain or slow down.
To find someone who would joyfully continue the one-sided activity, someone who doesn’t care that the other person or people, who are capable of doing the same thing but choose not to, is like looking for my buddy Paul at Curves.
On the other hand, most of us would have no problem helping someone who was not capable of reciprocating. Sometimes. Say someone doesn’t have a car so they ask you to do their groceries for them every week. You would do it happily for a time. Eventually you might want gas money, or want not to be taken for granted, or they better not refuse to look after your dog.
How do I know this? Because that is how I would feel. Sadly, there are very few Mother Teresas in the world.
We should all be like the Sun. What can the Earth give the Sun? A place to shine? To warm up? There are plenty of locations for the Sun to share its glory. If the Earth ceased to exist, the Sun would continue to thrive. If the Sun ceased to exist, God help us all.
Jesus says,” Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.” Matt 5:42.
He also said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35.
We should all make an effort to be generous expecting nothing in return. Ever.
You’re having a good day. Maybe even a great day. You woke up refreshed, had a delicious breakfast, went to school or work and everything was going well. You received 100% on a test or was awarded a major contract or won a big case.
You can do no wrong. Everything you touch turns to gold. You’re so happy
Then something happens. One event. A customer yells at you, a driver cuts you off, someone calls you an idiot, another eats your lunch.
What do you do?
For the majority of us, it would ruin our day. That one event would counter twenty good things that happened that day.
Make no mistake. It’s our fault. To allow anyone to affect our joy is a travesty. We have control of how we react to anyone getting in our face or space. Why we let one crummy episode upset us, especially when the rest of our day was favourable, is a mystery to me.
Now I’m not talking about the initial reaction to any negative stimulus. We have reactions based on our personality. Fight, Flight, Freeze, etc. That’s all natural and can change the more experience we get dealing with other human beings. I’m talking about when the initial effects have worn off and we have had time to contemplate what happened.
Unfortunately the reverse is not always true. Someone scratches your car, they mess up your coffee order, a car drives through a puddle and soaks you, a customer calls you an idiot, and so on. It’s a bad day.
In the midst of these unfortunate events, you get a raise, or receive an awesome compliment, or are given your favourite meal, or whatever good or enjoyable episode happens. Do these favourable events turn around our day?
Not really. For a good event to positively impact an otherwise bad day, the event would have to be extraordinary like your girlfriend said yes, or you’re drafted in the NHL, or you won the lottery. You get the idea.
For the Christian, the joy one feels is independent of circumstances. Their joy comes from knowing who they are in the Lord. Knowing that you the child of the Almighty creator is enough to make anyone joyful. That’s not to say that we don’t get down, upset, angry, whatever. It does mean that those emotions are temporary. The joy of the Lord is our strength.
We run into all types of people everyday and in doing that some will rub us the wrong way. Let’s not let them ruin our day. We don’t have to.
When it comes to respect, I believe we fall into two camps. Those who give it right away and those who say you have to earn it.
I’ll explain. First a definition.
From Websters: RESPECT: To view or consider with some degree of reverence; to esteem as possessed of real worth.
With this definition in mind, I believe the first camp is the correct camp. Everyone is to be respected upon first meeting because they possess real worth. Why? Because they are made in the image of God.
God considers everyone valuable that He sent His Son to die for all of us. If God considers us worthy, why wouldn’t we?
For those of us in the second camp, which is the majority, where people have to earn our respect, I believe we think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. Why should people have to earn our respect? Are we better than they? More worthy?
It’s easy enough to lose respect for someone. Let’s not make respecting someone so difficult. Just do it!
Want to know what get’s under my thin skin? When someone say’s, “I don’t love them anymore?” or “We just fell out of love!” as justification for ending their marriage.
Can you really do that? I say no! Not really!
Look at these two scenarios I found in an article In the Huffington Post.
“I woke up in the middle of the night and looked at my guy. He still looked exactly like the man I used to be crazy about, except I just didn’t feel the same way. It scared me. I think I must have stared at him for hours, searching in my heart for the warm feelings I always felt in the past. He’s just as wonderful as always. Maybe I’ve just not tried hard enough. What if I couldn’t find anyone better? Am I running away without really giving it my best shot? What if the problem is me?”
“She reached out to touch me in the beautiful way she always has. I thought I was just tired. I made some kind of lame excuse and she was fine that first night. Then it happened again. We talked about seeing a doctor, but I knew it wasn’t physical. I love this woman as much as I ever did, but something is just missing, and I don’t know what it is. Christ, I don’t want to lose her, but I don’t want to pretend I feel something I don’t either. I don’t even want to tell her because I know she’d be devastated.”
The problem I see with Angie and Sean is that they are trusting their feelings. Feelings are fickle. They can change at anytime, under any circumstance. And here’s the thing.
LOVE IS NOT A FEELING.
Love isn’t something we feel. It’s more something we do. Love is a decision. It’s easier to consider love as a feeling because it is easier to blame your feelings than it is to blame your actions.
The bible tells us what love is.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
There it is. Love is action. Or inaction if you like. Verbs. Be patient, Be kind, Do not insist in your own way, Bear all things, Believe all things, Endure all things, and so on. All actions not feelings. It is easier to say I just don’t feel love any more than to say I don’t want to be patient anymore, or I don’t want to be kind anymore. Or I insist on my own way and I am just irritable or resentful. People would consider you selfish, inconsiderate, and probably in the wrong.
Now don’t get me wrong. Marriages end for justifiable reasons like abuse or infidelity. Some end just because one person wants out and makes the situation unbearable for the other. The plight of children can become a factor as well.
I don’t know your marriage. You do. I’m just saying that if it just came down to feelings, no marriage would survive.
Except mine, of course.
You can go online and find many a slogan singing the praises of failure. Here are a few of them:
1. “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy 2. “Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley 3. “When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres 4. “It’s failure that gives you the proper perspective on success.” – Ellen DeGeneres 5. “There is no failure except in no longer trying.” – Chris Bradford 6. “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison 7. “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill 8. “There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho 9. “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill 10. “We are all failures – at least the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie 11. “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis 12. “Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert T. Kiyosaki 13. “Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” – Napoleon Hill 14. “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don’t try to forget the mistakes, but you don’t dwell on it. You don’t let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.” – Johnny Cash 15. “Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling 16. “No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist.” – Chris Hardwick 17. “When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” – Eloise Ristad
Meditating on these sayings, many uttered by multimillionaires, you would be forgiven to think that failure is something to be aimed for, even celebrated.
I say no! Failure should not be your goal.
Look at #10 above. “We are all failures?!” That’s unacceptable.
Imagine saying that to your child, even with the best of intentions. “Don’t worry darling. You are a failure. You’ll do better next time.” You would never say anything like that, not if you wanted to encourage them to keep going.
Okay. I get it. I actually like all the slogans listed above except #10). In essence what they’re all saying is:
“Failure isn’t the opposite of Success; Failure is the partner of Success.”
It took Thomas Edison 10,000 attempts to invent the lightbulb, it took James Dyson 15 years and 5,127 prototypes to finally create his bagless vacuums. There is no doubt that there is something to be said about giving failure credit for achieving success.
However, why not go into any endeavor thinking you will succeed on the first try? Why not hate failure with every fibre of your being? Why do we wear failure like a suit of honour, trumpeting our failure from the rooftops, at every speech we give?
I’ll tell you why. Because we, the public, prefer that.
Take these two scenarios.
- A twenty year old musician goes on American Idol, gets discovered, gets a music deal, and becomes a superstar overnight.
- A forty year old musician who has been playing in dive bars for years, playing for peanuts and a beer, finally gets discovered and becomes a superstar.
Who do you respect more? Clearly the one who paid their dues. They played for the love of music, right? For them it wasn’t about the money, it was about the music.
But couldn’t we say that about the overnight success. They performed for the love of music as well. They just struck oil on the first strike. They didn’t have to struggle to make it. And we hold that against them.
We don’t like easy success stories. Everyone should struggle, not just us. The success stories that sell, are ones fraught with failure after failure, rags and more rags before riches, ten bankruptcies before success, and on and on. Even that overnight success will attempt to find something to spice up their tale like getting up at 5am, to practice 6hrs a day, since they were 2 years old. They have to do that because no one is interested in a yarn without failure. We can’t relate to it. We’re jealous.
Sooo…here’s what I’m saying. Let’s not wear failure like a badge of honour. It’s nothing to be proud of. You didn’t do anything to achieve it. It wasn’t the realisation of a worthwhile goal. Certainly how we react to failure is key to success, and we can talk about that. What we should celebrate is success whether it is achieved on first strike or 100th or 1000th.
Success is success!
I wrote a post about one wrong reason to reject Christianity. You can read about it here. I’m going to make a similar argument here but put a slightly different spin to it.
This post was prompted by a story I heard. A couple went to see a preacher who called himself a ‘prophet’ of God. At the service, he called them out to prophesy over them.
To prophesy is to foretell or predict future events.
The ‘prophet’ told them that the wife is going to be barren. They would be unable to have children because of this condition. There was however a way out of the dire situation. If they gave a certain amount of money to his ministry in a particular time frame, God would lift the curse, and her womb would become fruitful again.
Here is the definition of Fraud:
Deceit; deception; trick; a strategy intended to obtain some undue advantage; an attempt to gain or the obtaining of an advantage over another by imposition or immoral means, particularly deception in contracts, or bargain and sale, either by stating falsehoods, or suppressing truth.
This preacher was a false prophet, a fraudster. Why do I say that?
- He attempted to gain financially.
- Prophesy is meant to encourage individuals not fill them with dread. If it was true that this woman would be barren for a time, then he should have said something like, “I see you are having trouble conceiving a child. God has shown me that it is only for a season. I would like to pray asking for peace and patience while you wait upon the Lord.”
- He misrepresented God. God doesn’t need your money to achieve his plans. It’s His anyway and if He wants a particular organization or church or charity or family to have more money for some reason, He wouldn’t have His representative lie, or scare someone into giving it up.
- Nothing he said lines up with scripture. If you want something from God just ask. You may not get it but I guarantee you won’t have to pay someone off for it.
So, should charlatans like this preacher cause someone to reject Christianity. Is the fact that Christian leaders are caught in adultery, pedophilia, tax fraud, theft, and the like, a good reason to rebuff the faith?
Of course not!
Judging Christianity by the actions of flawed people is ridiculous. What you have to do is get to know Jesus.
Christians do have the responsibility to represent Jesus well. We are His ambassadors on earth. But will we screw up now and then? Absolutely!
But not Jesus. The founder of our faith was and is perfect in every way. And everything He did, He did out of love. His ‘motive’ is pure and right. Look at Him and judge Him and make your call on Christianity on that.
I dare you!
Nomsa wished that closing her eyes would also render her deaf as she longed to silence the sobs and sniffles of her loved ones.
“The bed is surrounded by my family,” she said. “I’m going to die.”
Her Spirit responded. “I’m willing to keep on fighting. Why are you ready to give up?”
“I’ve been fighting this cancer for 11 years now. I can’t take it anymore.”
“We’ve only been together for 15 years. You’ve got another 80 years to live. I’m not ready to leave. We’re in this fight together.”
Nomsa closes her eyes, her breathing shallow. “Do you really think we can make it to 95 years.”
“I don’t know but I’m willing to try.” Her voice cracks.
“Are you crying?” Nomsa asked.
“We don’t cry. We empathise.”
Nomsa smiles. “Thank you. You’re a great friend.”
“Friend? You can’t live without me.”
“I think you have that backwards.”
“You’re the one that’s going to…”
Nomsa struggles to breathe. Her Mom strokes her hair which is comforting. Now she welcomes the weeping because it means she’s still alive.
“What happens to you when I die?”
“I go on a journey,” Spirit answers.
“You mean Jesus?”
“That’s what you call him. We don’t have a name for him. Nothing fits.”
“How long is the journey?” Nomsa inquired.
“I don’t know. I’ve never taken it before.”
“Will you be given another body?”
“No way. I was created for you and you alone. You’re not going to get rid of me that easy.”
A tear escapes and tracks down Nomsa’s temple before Mom wiped it away.
“I’m scared,” she announces.
“What are you afraid of?”
“I’m not what’s going to happen when I die. I don’t know what it’s like to be buried. I don’t know how long I’ll be there. I don’t know much about the afterlife.”
“You know how a caterpillar builds a cocoon, lives there for a while, and when the time is right it springs forth as a butterfly, beautiful and free.
Nomsa stops breathing. “I love butterflies.”
“Do you think it cares about the cocoon it just exited?”
“But in your illustration I’m the cocoon.”
“No, you’re the butterfly.”
“I thought you were the butterfly.”
“No, I’m you.”
Nomsa leaves her body as her family lament over her cocoon, and start the grieving process.
“You mean I’ve been conversing with myself.”
“Yes, and clearly you want to keep that going.”
Nomsa looked down at her parents and smiled. If they knew the freedom she felt now, free from sickness, disease and pain, they would rejoice with her.
She blew them a kiss. “Thank you for everything.” To her Spirit she commanded, “Next journey. Let’s go.”
“It’s your journey,” she said. “Lead the way.”
We’ve all heard it. Maybe we’ve even said it. “You’re not better than me!”
I may be a better singer than you, be a faster runner than you, or know more about the eye than you do. Similarly, you may be a better piano player than me or better public speaker.
Clearly I am being a little facetious. When someone says “You’re not better than me,” they are reacting to an incident where they feel judged by someone else. Usually they have been called out on something and they feel the person calling them out has no right to do so.
For example: they reacted badly to someone cutting them off, got angry and swore. :they refused to tip a waiter because he gave them chicken not beef. :they gave up or quit on a worthwhile task or goal. :they bragged about an achievement, showing little humiility.
Look, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t done one or all of the examples cited above. Some much worse. They are worth being rebuked for because we should be better.
What good does it do to get angry and swear at a driver who can’t hear you? Can you not forgive a waiter knowing that everyone makes mistakes, including you? Who hasn’t quit on something because desired results were slow in coming if at all? No-one achieves anything alone. You can think of someone who helped along the way.
Why does it get under our thin skin when we are corrected? Why do we lash out at those who may be trying to help us. Even if the motives of the rebuker aren’t pure, why can’t we focus on the words said instead of the person saying them.
Websters 1828 dictionary defines it beautifully. Inordinate self-esteem; an unreasonable conceit of one’s own superiority in talents, beauty, wealth, accomplishments, rank or elevation in office, which manifests itself in lofty airs, distance, reserve, and often in contempt of others.
“How dare you tell me where I’ve gone wrong. What gives you the right? You don’t know me. You can’t judge me!”
It isn’t easy to shut off the pride gene. It is kind of a defense mechanism which we use to protect ourselves. But attempt to shut it off we must. Or at least its effects must manifest themselves less and less as we journey this life together.
- Think of yourself less but don’t think less of yourself.
- Shut up and listen. Respect other thoughts and opinions.
- Recognize your limitations. Get help.
- Be thankful.
- Apologize often.
- Forgive always.
It is getting easier for me to be humble the older I get because my body can’t do things as well as it used to, like lift as much weight, run up a flight of stairs with ease, or rise from a kneeling position without wincing. There is no need to wait for yor body to slap you in the face.
Be humble now!
Watch this. It’s good.