The truth – it ain’t goin’ away…

September 15, 2015

 “Truth is like the sun.  You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”  (Elvis Presley) As seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently.

ElvisOne seldom thinks of Elvis as a philosopher, but before he became a rock star he had a life with deep roots in religion and faith, which served him well on occasion, later in his life. He may have wandered away from some of the principles of his upbringing every now and then, but they were still there in the background. One’s principles are the foundation for life and like the truth – it ain’t goin’ away

Another saying that I saw on Jack’s blog some time back also came to mind what I saw the Elvis quote –

“It takes a great many shovels to bury the truth.”  (German Proverb)

The truth, like hope, is a hard thing to extinguish or hide. Faith is another thing in life that one can cling to.  Sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the truth amidst the calliope of claims made that are based upon misinformation or prejudice or hate; but the truth is still there somewhere. The truth never really hides and never tries to deceive. It may be temporarily obscured by those who seek to deceive or to hide the truth for their own gain; but, it ain’t goin’ away.

It’s interesting, and somewhat telling about our society, that when people are sworn in to testify at trials they areswearing in ask to swear that they are going to “tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”  I guess that is necessary because some might only tell parts of the truth – the parts that are favorable to them – or they may add to the truth falsehoods that seek to modify or nullify the truth. Do you ever leave out part of the truth because the whole truth might not be pleasant or cold be hurtful? Maybe you embellish the truth in such a way as to soften it or perhaps even modify it? You might shut it out for a while or seek to bury it; but, as Elvis said, it ain’t goin’ away.

I recall a very dramatic line near the end of the trial in the movie A Few Good Men in which Jack Nicholson yells at Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!” Can you handle the truth? Would you rather that someone lied to you? Is ignoring the truth more convenient for you? Have you built a wall between yourself and the truth to avoid the pain or just to not have to deal with it? It ain’t goin’ away.

Accepting the truth in your life is not in any way accepting defeat, even if the truth is ugly or painful or even hurtful. Being optimistic rather than pessimistic in life is not trying to hide or modify the truth, it is just a way of dealing with it. So, don’t run away or try to hide from the truth. Don’t deny the truth. Don’t try to obscure or modify the truth. Accept it, deal with it and get on with life. You don’t have enough time or energy or shovels to bury the truth and surely it ain’t goin’ away.

Maybe the only truth that you need to really accept is found in John 14:6 – “I am the way, the truth and the life.” For sure, that is one truth that ain’t goin’ away.

Take your shots today…

September 14, 2015

“You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky (as seen on a motivational site, while looking for something else). Great athletes are often the source of great motivational quotes.

hockey shotLife is full of opportunities for us all to take a shot at greatness, or at least at betterment. Many of us let those opportunities pass us by because of some fear, usually the fear of failure. We might think, if I don’t try I won’t have to deal with failure. How pathetic is that? Gretzky’s quote is certainly true if that is your philosophy of life.

A life lived without any failures is a boring life indeed; because it is usually a life lived without trying. It results in an old age full of coulda, woulda, shoulda’s, regrets and leaves little to be remembered by.

So, when those shots come up (and they do come up every day) to do something different, something bold, something that is potentially life changing, take you shot. You may fail, but at least you will have tried and perhaps you’ll even learn something about life and about yourself. Maybe you’ll succeed and then you’ll be someplaceask for dance where you’ve never been before, with great new adventures ahead of you, perhaps with new friends that you finally took the opportunity to talk to, maybe with a date that you never thought that you’d get or a new job that you thought was out of reach. You’ll never know if you don’t take your shot. Another great athlete put it this way –

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” – Michael Jordan

So, take your shots today. Look for life’s opportunities; not to avoid them, but to take advantage of them. There is great joy in the successes that you may achieve and even a sense of satisfaction that you can get out of the failures that you will have because at least you tried.

Take your shots today…

Consequences one way or another…

September 12, 2015

“When you choose an action, you choose the consequences of that action.”  (Lois Bujold) – from  a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

We all make decisions all day long, some of them leading to taking some action. We may sign up for something or maybe we respond to something. Perhaps we make the decision to say yes or no to some invitation or maybe we just get in the car and start off towards some destination. Sometimes we make those decisions and take those actions in haste. Many times we may not give a lot of thought to the consequences of those decisions and actions.

overwhelmedIn addition to the consequences that one might expect from any action, there are usually some unintended consequences lurking about that also may result. As humans we get to use the phrase, “I didn’t mean to do that” quite a bit more than we’d like. That is usually the result of consequences from an action that was not well thought out or from unintended consequences that we just didn’t foresee. Our ability to speak and our rush to use that ability is often something that we take too little time to reflect upon before taking action. There is a great little saying about that which might save more than a few of us from the consequences of blurting out our opinions and thoughts.

“Be a good listener.  Your ears will never get you in trouble.”  (Frank Tyger)listening

Being a good listener is a choice, too. You might initially think that it is a choice to be passive, rather than to take action; however, choosing to listen is an action and one that is sometimes the best thing that you can do for the other person and for yourself.

But, what of the more active choices that we must make every day in life? For those I found an interesting little quote that is simple, yet maddeningly complex at the same time.

“Make the right choices for the right reasons and the right things will happen.”  ― Charles F. Glassman

OK, that makes sense to me; but what are the right reasons that will lead me to make the right choices? We will never be able to always make the right decisions; but maybe if we start from the right frame of mind we will do a bit better on more of those choices. LJ Vanier had the right idea when he said:

“I don’t always make the best choices, but today I choose compassion over intolerance, sympathy over hatred and love over fear.”

prayingPerhaps if we start each day making some choices like those that Vanier stated we will end up with fewer bad or unintended consequences in life. Maybe the best way to achieve that frame of mind is to start each day with a little prayer and ask the Lord to help you make the decisions that you must make that day with those choices already in mind. Just taking the action to start your day with a prayer will itself result in amazingly positive consequences.

Have a great and consequential weekend!

Can we talk?

September 9, 2015

“Sometimes having coffee with your best friend is all you need.”  (Sent by LG) – as featured on the Jack’s Winning Words blog. Jack went on to write about the late Joan Rivers and her famous line, “Can we talk?”

girls huggingThere are times when we all have the need to talk things out, either directly with someone with whom we may be having an issue or just with a friend when the topic may not be about a personal conflict. There are also times when a friend of ours may need to talk to someone and turns to us. Whether you are the talker or the listener in times of need, the act of talking and listening is important to both of you.

It is very helpful sometimes to have to put your feelings into words. Emotions are a reaction to something that has happened in your life and it helps if you find a way to verbalize that something and think a little about your reaction to it. There are obvious things, like the loss of a loved one that cause emotional reactions; but, there are many other things that may cause fear or anger or hatred or remorse and we need to understand them better and why we have reacted as we have. Talking things out can help you get to the root of the problem. You may not always like what you find there, since mental pre-sets like prejudice or stereotyping may have led you astray; but even coming to an understanding of those preconceived notions is helpful. Sometimes you may even say to yourself, “I can’t believe that I just said that out loud.” That’s OK, too; at least you got it out and now you can deal with it.

If you happen to be in the role of the listener for someone who needs to talk, take you role seriously. That personlistening has put a lot of trust and faith in you to be there for them, so you need to be a good listener and a good friend at that moment. Trying to laugh off whatever problem that they are sharing with you is not helpful. Commiserating with them is not the answer either. They came to you for help, not pity. Your real role in these types of situations is to provide the common-sense guidance on how to cope or deal with the matter at hand that they cannot muster at the moment.

Many times the best advice that you can provide may be to help them reconnect with their faith and to unload their burden on the God that they have trusted all of their lives. Help them get to the mental state where they can say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Once they have done that they can begin the journey back to a more normal life.

prayingThere is a tipping point in all crises where one can fall off the cliff into depression or see the light and head back into life. As the listener in the conversation, it is your job to help them see that light. Giving advice like “shake it off” or “put on your big girl panties” may sound like something that you should say; however, finding a way to have them trust and lean on their faith in crises is much more useful. If they can turn to God and say, “Can we talk?” they will find the help that they really need. Show them that door and let them open it and go through it. Then, remember where it’s at, because you’ll probably need it someday yourself.

That’s all I need…

September 8, 2015

“The last suit that you wear, you don’t need any pockets.”  (Wayne Dyer),  from the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I just returned from the funeral of my wife’s sister; so this little saying hit home.  Another thing that really hit home came out of the funeral service. The pastor was delivering the homily and told the story of a little girl (I think he said she was three years old or maybe five) who volunteered to recite the 23rd Psalm in Sunday School. The 23rd Psalm is a very famous Psalm that is often used in funerals and which is often taught in Sunday Schools.  The 23rd Psalm starts out, “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want…” This day, the Sunday School teacher asked the class who could recite the 23rd Psalm, which they has been studying, and the little girl enthusiastically raised her hand. When she was called upon, she stood and confidently said, “The Lord is my Shepard and that’s all I need.” 

I think she got it exactly right. That is all that we need. If we believe that Jesus is our Shepard and follow Him, we don’t need any pockets.

A friend of mine lost a courageous battle with cancer recently. He was fun to be around; he was a good man and he will be missed. As I read through some of the posts from his family and friends on Facebook that week, everyone was sending their condolences to his widow and mentioning that he was now at peace in Heaven. For me, and for most Christians, thoughts of going to a place we call Heaven is plan “A” for life after death. It got me wondering what those who have not embraced religion have as plan “B”.

Some who claim to be agnostics deride the faithful believer’s vision of a life with God after death, but I wonder what they think happens next. What is their plan “B”? Somehow, as simplistic as it may seem to some, thoughts of life going on, albeit in a different level, is a lot more comforting than life just ending. I find no comfort at all in that plan “B”. I’m hard-pressed to understand what they believe in.

So, for me at least, I’ll go with the plan that the little girl in Sunday School laid out – The Lord is my Shepard and that’s all I need.

What’s your plan?

Change your future today…

September 2, 2015

“Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do changes the future.”  ― Ashleigh Brilliant

It certainly does no good to wallow in the past, especially if you use that as an excuse to do nothing in the present. afraidBetter that you should start changing your future by doing things today. Start by doing a quick and honest assessment of where you are today (not how you got there). Consider what are the issues or challenges that you face today and what do you need to do about them? Break bigger challenges down into smaller pieces or steps that you can take, one at a time, prioritize those small steps and then step off – start doing.

You will find that, even if you don’t initially realize it, in the doing you forget to spend time thinking about what’s passed. You are busy making your future. And when you get done with each task, take George C.  Marshall’s advice –

“When a thing is done, it’s done.  Don’t look back.  Look forward to your next objective.” 

 The advice of both Brilliant and Marshall look to the future, rather than the past. Brilliant seems to be more the dreamer and Marshall the more pragmatic, but both are heading you in the same direction – your future.

That is another important thing to keep in mind and one that I’ve written about her in the past – there is always a future. Every event in life that I spent time dreading and overthinking came and went without the apocalyptic end that I had imagined. Yes, some of them were painful, either emotionally or physically, but they passed and I was still there; life goes on and I was still standing. You will be, too. You will also learn that the solution to life’s disappointments, pains and trials is not to be found in a bottle or a pill, but within you and through actions.

Bottom line – you have a future and what that future is will change, depending upon what you start making it be today.  Here’s another  thought to get you started –

“It’s amazing how a little tomorrow can make up for a whole lot of yesterday.”  ― John Guare

Finally, for those afraid of the future, there is help within your faith –  me

“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  ― Corrie ten Boom

You can change your future today with a simple little prayer – “Not my will, but thy will be done.” Now that’s doing something about your future!