In search of classy…

December 17, 2016

Recently Jack Freed posted this on his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Anyone can ride in ajohn-glenn spaceship or serve as a politician, but class is rare—something lacking in this crassest of American eras.”  (Ted Rall in Forbes)  Jack went on to write – John Glenn was classy!  He was humble, well-mannered, intelligent, who never tried to build oneself up by tearing others down.

I grew up in an era where there were classy role models in Hollywood and in Washington. These days one would have to search long and hard for actors or politicians that one could call classy. It seems sometimes like crass has replaced class in both places.

From the Urban Dictionary comes this definition of classy –

An adjective

1) meaning very stylish and elegant.

2) not crude or disgusting or dirty or depressing

2) a deeper, more meaningful word for ‘cool’

Yes, we also used the word “cool” a lot back then, too. In today’s political and entertainment gregory-peckworlds it seems the second definition is getting harder to find. George Clooney is often mentioned as a modern classy actor, although the ultimate classy Hollywood actors will always be Carey Grant and Gregory Peck; and actress Meryl Streep might be called classy today, though not on the level that we used to think of Katherine Hepburn.

One must really work at trying to find a politician that one could label as being classy, especially when using the second definition as the measuring stick.  In fact the term classy politician may be an oxymoron. I suppose that many people would say that JFK was a classy politician. He certainly met the requirements of the first definition and many thought him to be cool; however, history has revealed cracks in his classy facade that some find disquieting. I tried to find current political examples, but even Google couldn’t turn up a classy current politician or even an honest one. Maybe John Glen was one of the last of that classy era. Both John Kasich and Bernie Sanders rank fairly high if you just search for an honest politician.

I suspect that there are many politicians at the local levels of government who might deserve the label classy, but it appears that those who aspire to higher levels of government (even county or statewide positions) quickly abandon the traits that one would use for that label in their pursuit of political power.

At a local level, from what I’ve seen, there remain classy people in the school systems, the business community and in the clergy (Pastor Doug McMunn leaps to mind in Milford). While many of these people don’t make enough in those jobs to afford to be called classy in the sense of the first definition, they certainly meet the requirements of the second definition and most are considered to be “cool” people in the local community.volunteers You see them in the local newspapers doing good deeds and helping out in their communities. They run or work at non-profit volunteer organizations, like Community Sharing or the Village Fine Arts Association. They support local civic projects. Many are leaders in youth organizations like the boy or girl scouts or in organizations focused upon youth, like the Optimists Clubs. Without these “classy” people our local communities would be dreary places indeed.

The good news doesn’t stop with being able to find classy people in your local neighborhoods. The really good news is that you too can be thought of as being a “classy” person by jumping in and helping, too. There is no shortage of needs at all local volunteer organizations, so pick one or two and volunteer. Soon people will be talking about what a classy guy or gal you are, because you care and give of your time and effort to make a sewrving soupdifference. It’s not enough to just send in a check. No one ever said, “what a classy giver his is”. They appreciate the donations of money, but they see real class in the donation of time and effort.

We may be in for more politics at almost all levels that lack class, but that doesn’t mean that we can,t find class all around us or that we can’t be thought of as being classy ourselves. So, be cool. Jump in at your local level and do the right things to help. It’s the classy thing to do.


What’s in your anti-stress kit?

December 15, 2016

Recently Jack Freed had this post on his blog, Jacks Winning Words

“For fast-acting relief, try slowing down.”  (Lily Tomlin)  In a devotional book I use, an anti-stressJack Freed kit is described for those who need “relief.”  It contains a rubber band (be flexible), a candy kiss (everyone needs a kiss–encouragement), a life-saver (be a helper), an eraser (we all make mistakes) and a toothpick (pick out the good things in others and in yourself).  Other stress relievers: Eat wisely, breathe deeply, shake and dance…and watch TV (not the news).    😉  Jack

 We all need an anti-stress kit of our own; some things relieve stress just by looking at them or maybe doing them. Some things help us break the hold of stress on our lives, if only for a moment. I have posted here before that I often make a funny face in the mirror in the morning while getting ready for the day as a way to start off the day in a better, less serious and less stressful way. Jack’s advice that adds dance to the anti-stress Snoopy joykit reminds me of Snoopy of the Peanuts cartoon. Snoopy often would break into his care-free happy dance, much to the chagrin of Lucy. Eventually his infectious joy would crack even her facade of stressful seriousness. We all need more Snoopy-like happy dancing in our lives.

What makes you forget about the stress of the day and be happy and maybe break into your happy dance? I find that my two dogs help me a lot. It’s hard to remain grumpy and stressed out when they come bounding at me just trying to share their unconditional love as I return from work. We go on four walks a day and those turn out to be four of the most peaceful and stress free times of my day. Maybe a pet is in your kit.

Other than the items mentioned above, what can you think of that might make it into an anti-stress kit? I might  include:

  • One of those little teddy bears that have “I am loved” stitched onto their little sweaters. It forces us to think of those we love who also love us, no matter what.
  • A favorite love song or the “our song” that you and a loved one share
  • Your favorite pair of worn old jeans. Nothing disassociates you from the stress of the business world like getting home and putting on your old jeans (an maybe having a glass of wine, too).
  • A hug – I’m not sure how you would put a hug in your kit – maybe just a little sign that says “go hug somebody.”
  • A quiet corner somewhere. Stress seems to make us hyper-sensitive to the noises and chatter going on all around us and a quiet place allows us escape the din and relax a bit.
  • A time out timer. Maybe it would help to give yourself a 5-10 minute time out by using one of those little timer gadgets that you can get for almost nothing these days. A key to heading Lilly Tomlin’s advice from Jack’s blog post is to stop, take some deep breaths and then to proceed more slowly.

So, what would be in your anti-stress kit?

There’s one item not mentioned above that is really like the Penicillin of stress relief and that is the Bible. Most of the things mentioned above just take your mind off the stress and hold it at bay for a while. Reading the Bible can actually destroy the stress by putting the things that cause that stress into the right perspective and providing the reassurance that no matter what, it’s going to be OK.

Reading the Bible allows you to get to that place where you off-load the stress to God. Youreading-bible may find comfort in the words of Philippians 4:6-7 – “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you can get to that peace, you will realize that the stress is gone. So, make sure that a Bible is in your stress relief kit.

Make your own little stress-buster kit and keep it with you, so that you can drag out the list when you need it and think about the things that make you happy. Use your anti-stress kit and have a wonderful and stress-free rest of the week.


It all starts with me…

December 14, 2016

“The Buck Stops Here” (President Harry S. Truman) Truman had a sign that had that little saying on his desk in the White House and he used that phrase in speeches. There is anbuck-stops-here interesting story about the sign on Truman’s office and the origin of that phrase at the Truman Library web site. Truman, and many who have followed since, used that phrase to indicate that rather than “pass the buck” the buck would stop with them and they would make a decision. It is useful for making personal decisions in many facets of life, such as dealing with bullying or dealing with prejudice or continuing to look the other way and allow any number of injustices to continue. It is all too easy to pass the buck, rather than have the buck stop here- with you.

I wrote a post here yesterday about the lack of respect (and from that a lack of civility) in our modern political system and our society in general. A reader commented on that post, “Norm, you are so very right. Where has it gone and when can we get it back?” That sparked the Respect2thought that it really isn’t just about the buck stopping here, with me (or you); but, also the fact that the different behavior that is needed to combat that lack of respect and civility must start with me, too. It starts with me showing respect for the opinions of others, even if I don’t agree with their option or point of view on things. There are ways to respectfully disagree without resorting to screaming or name calling. Rather than waste my time and yours trying to denigrate you and your position, I need to focus upon doing a better job trying to understand your position and searching for some common ground upon which we might be able to find compromise.

So the answer to that question from my reader about how to recover the lost respect and civility in life is that we get it back when we start giving it back. We resist the reflex to jab back at the person taunting us or belittling our position or beliefs. We turn the otherdisagreement2 cheek. (Where have we heard that before?) Maybe, instead of just blurting back, “You’re wrong”, we could say instead, “I see that we have different opinions on this; is there anything about it that we can agree upon?” There may not initially be any apparent common ground; but, just changing the situation from a confrontation into a conversation may defuse what otherwise might escalate into something that you both regret later. We can start by respecting that we have differences and being civil about it. See how that works..

I also wrote recently about dealing with people who are looking at life through completely different lens that we can even imagine. (See – Trying to understand others without a frame of reference…) While the example used in that post and the follow-on post about Depression are examples of frames of personal reference (lens if you will) that are a little further out of the norm, they are examples of how things can be seen and opinions formed based upon different perspectives on life. The differences in the frames of reference discussed in those posts may have been extreme; however, something similar seems to looking-through-glasses-lenshave happened in our everyday lives, especially in the aspects that deal with politics.

The lens that we “see” things through in order to formulate those political opinions are often not internal, but those that are held up for us to look through by the politicians of our times. Sometimes they are charismatic charmers who can convince us to walk through fire with them in order to do the “right thing”. Sometimes they tap into our darker side and encourage us to let out the anger and frustration that we may have bottled up. We have the choice of forming ourWWJD own opinions by looking through the lenses that are held up by others or by choosing our own lens and view of things. If we really need an external lens to look through, we might do better by looking through the lens of the Bible and the “truths” that we will find there, rather than the “truths” that we see in a political ad or a tweet.

So, where does it start? How do we get back from the lack of civility and respect that we find ourselves in today? The simple truth is that it starts with me. I postulate that if I, and every other “I” out there, decided to be more respectful of differences and more civil in my interactions with others; eventually there start-with-mewould be enough “I’s” being respectful; and civil to others that it would turn us into “we” and then everything would be better. “We” would be living in a more respectful and civil world. I like that; and it starts with me.

How about you? Would you like to make your “I” a part of “We”? It starts with you, too.


R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

December 13, 2016

From the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this post – “We don’t need to have the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”  (Taylor Swift)

Jack went on to also write – “Is anyone teaching manners these days?  I’ve read that how people treat others reveals how they feel about themselves.  How are you feeling today?  I like Taylor’s comment on the importance of being respectful.    😉  Jack

Aretha Franklin had a hit song about RESPECT and the Staple Singers had a hit called Respect Yourself. I suspect that what Jack was saying starts with the second song and then deals with the first one. You can’t respect others if you don’t respect yourself. Showing disrespect and contempt for the opinions of others is just inviting them to return the favor about your position on things.

debatersIn the current loud and fractious political environment in the United States, respect and good behavior seemed to have been trampled under the heavy boots of partisan politics. As the gulf has widened between the major political groups, they have lost the ability to even hear the other’s side of the story, much less respect the differences. Both sides seem to have reached the “my way or the highway” position on their opinions and disdain has replaced disrespect in the conversations. In fact the conversations themselves have devolved into shouting matches.

One doesn’t have to look far below the surface of the shouting and apparent anger to see that the root cause – fear. The hints are actually in the phrases that are used on both sides, like “take back our country” on one side and “continue the fight forwinner-loser social, racial and economic justice” on the other. One side fears that “those people” are taking things away from us; while the other side fears that “those people” are preventing us from having equal opportunity. Both sides fear the other and see the other side’s success as taking something away from their side. Both sides view the world as a zero-sum game in which the outcome must be a winner and a loser. The position taken by both sides is “I’m right and you’re wrong”. There is no respect in this game.

There has always been a difference of opinion and approach to matters between the so-hands-across-the-gapcalled conservative and liberal factions within government. In days long gone the crack that divided the two groups was just that – a crack. It was a gap in thinking and approach to government that could be easily bridged or crossed. There were many politicians on both sides who crossed back and forth on issues, based on what they perceived to be for the good of the county. Due in many ways to the recent (relatively speaking) focus on social issues by our politicians, that crack or gap has now widened into a chasm which politicians on either side find to be too politically dangerous to cross. So they stand on bridging-the-chasmeach side of the divide hurling insults at each other across the chasm. No attempt is even made to build bridges between the opposing ideologies. They totally lack respect for each other.

There is little hope that the strident politicians that occupy the banks of the current political chasm will find a way to bridge that gap. In fact, they do not see any political advantage to trying to build that bridge. They find comfort in joining in on the shouting from their side of the chasm and encouraging even more strident views. They have become “US” and they have no respect for “THEM”.

What is the solution? Perhaps it is not to try to bridge the chasm, but rather to jump into it and build a new, third party from the bottom of that pit that can represent a way of governing without such rancor. There are many historic precedents in international politics for the creation of more moderate and centrist political parties. Instead of standing on the sides of the chasm and yelling that “government is too big” or “government is not doing enough”; perhaps this new party could focus more on what government can do to better serve the people that it governs. Instead of being focused upon the “haves” and the “have-nots”, this new party could focus on the needs. Maybe we do need to spend more time and money fixing what needs fixing here at home, but we must always be concerned about the wrongs that are occurring elsewhere in the world and new-way-forwardhelping where we can to make them right. This new party could start by showing respect to the people and the real problems at hand.

Rather than fighting a rear-guard battle against change to the world as we knew it; maybe we need to embrace a new world and a new political party that is more diverse in every way than has been the case in the past. We can’t go back; but, we can do better going forward. Let’s show some respect for the real issues and the solutions. It’s just a thought.

In the meantime, maybe we can all go back to kindergarten and re-learn what they tried to teach us there about RESPECT.


Get help – give help…

December 12, 2016

“All of us, at certain moments of our lives, need to take advice and to receive help from other people.”  (Alexis Carrel)

Of course that little quote came from the Jack’s Winning Words blog that I get 5 times a week. Jack went on to write – Sometimes the advisers suggest “consult a pastor.”  There truly are problem situations out there in the real world.  Fortunate are those people who have someone “to lean on.”    😉  Jack

Jack is the retired pastor of the church that I attend and I’m sure many people have found him to be a comforting pillar to lean on over the years. I have always found Jack’s calm, yet warm, presence and reassuring words to be a comforting touchstone to which I could look for reassurance that things would be alright if I continued to put my trust in God.

Asking for help or advice for others is hard for some people. They were probably told not tohelping-2 be a cry-baby when they were growing up and to “suck it up” and face things themselves. They may be embarrassed to be in a position to need help. Many want help, but just don’t know how to ask for the help they need. There are also people who seem to decline help of any sort from anyone. They push away those who are seeking to help them or stubbornly refuse to ask for the help they need, even in the face of certain failure. Of course there are also people who are so blissfully ignorant of their situation that they don’t realize that they need help.

We live in an interconnected world and it is important to realize that our problems do not occur in a vacuum, nor will the solutions to those problems be found in a vacuum. Problems may be caused by, or may impact, others around us. We are not alone in thishelp-me problem space and we may be able to get advice or help from others, based upon their experience with the same problems. It is also important to share our problems with loved ones, so that they understand what may be causing us to act as we are and not think that they are the cause of those actions.

In Jack’s post, he mentioned a couple of the advice columnists in our local paper and, certainly, that is one way to seek advice. A quicker way is to turn to those around you that you know and trust and just ask, “if this happened to you, how would you handle it?” For those problems that are too big or too embarrassing to discuss with casual friends, one may need to turn to trusted sources, often a relative or very close friend and sometimes a pastor, priest, rabbi or imam. Keeping problems that are gnawing at you inside just makes them seem bigger and scarier. The key is to get it out there and ask for their advice or help.

Sometimes, just summoning up the courage to share your problem with a trusted friend is being kind 1enough to release the pressure that had been building up inside of you. Even if that friend doesn’t have a whole lot of advice to give you, the fact that you got it out there and found a way to verbalize what has been bothering you many time allows you to take a whole new look at the problem yourself. You may realize that what you thought was the problem wasn’t what was causing all of the anxiety or concern, so much as how you were reacting to the problem. Stating the problem clearly also may allow you to take the step of saying to yourself, “So what?”

Years ago I wrote a post here about being able to say “So what” to life’s problems. That post was based upon some advice that I had received from a friend and neighbor, John Hussy. John often used the phrase “So what” when dealing with many of life’s issues and he advised me to stop and look at things the same way. If you can look at what has happenedso-what or what may happen and say, “So what? Did (or will it) it kill me?” Then you can put the problems into perspective. So what if I got turned down for the date or that new job. So what if I had a meltdown in public or at work? So what if I’m not in the “in crowd” at school or at work? So what if some people see me as “different” and don’t understand or accept me? Did any of those things kill me? If not, then why am I letting them dictate my life now? You may realize that it is not the perceived problem that is causing you the pain; but, rather your reaction to it. It’s time to say “So what” and move on. You’ve got better things to do with your life than worry about those “So what” problems.

The take away here is not to keep things bottled up. Seek help or advice from others. Then listen to their advice and sort through what makes sense to you to try or accept their help and get on with the task. Many times the path to a solution will become apparent just because you had to explain to someone else (and in the process to yourself) what you woman-prayingperceive the problem to be. Don’t forget God in your search for help, since talking to Him is often the best way to resolve things. I have written several times here about the calming and healing effect of the simple prayer, “Not my will but thy will be done.” Try it some time. Give God your problem. You may discover that giant weight is removed from your mind after saying that little prayer and believing that it will happen.

Learning how to seek and accept help is just part of learning how to live in our interconnected society. Another part is learning how to give help to those who reach out to us. So many times we get off on the wrong foot by starting out with some statement like, “I know how you feel”. No you don’t, so don’t just say that and expect a good reaction. It is better to say, “I don’t know how you feel, but I accept that you are in pain; how can I help.”

Acceptance is the foundation to being a good source of help. Start with the mentality thatlisten says I accept you as you are, not like I would like you to be. Then ask them to share the source of their pain and listen (don’t talk). Being a good listener is the key to being a good helper. Sometimes you will hear things that the speaker doesn’t even realize that they are saying. It may be in how things are phrased or emphasized that gives you the clue to the real root of their problem. It’s hard to listen that intently if you are talking or thinking about what you will say next.

Another key to being a good advice giver is not to offer advice only within the context of opinionatedyour own life experiences. If your advice starts with, “Well, if it was me, I’d…” it is likely to be ignored. It’s not you and the person who you are trying to help isn’t going to react as you think you might. If you start off with, “Wow, I can’t imagine how that must feel”; but maybe here are some things you might try; at least you’ve gotten off on a better foot.

Having the ability to be a good listener and offering good advice only works for the other person if they perceive that you are willing to help. It’s hard enough for them to ask for help, much less trying to seek that help from someone that they perceive to be self-centered, aloof or uncaring. Being perceived by others to be a caring and open person, withhandshake whom they can discuss things, takes work. It means greeting others as if you are happy to see them and are interested in their lives. It means asking about then before telling them about things in your life. It means listening when they talk, instead of focusing upon what you want to say next. It means picking up on what they are saying and how they are saying it and asking follow-up questions. It means opening up your shell and dropping your shields first, so that they feel comfortable doing the same with you.

Being there to share their pains and to give help or advice is not for everyone and not for every situation or person that you may encounter, but it is critical for those in your life with whom you share bonds of love or true friendship. There is no greater calling or responsibility than to become a trusted adviser to your friend or loved one. Treat the role with the respect that it deserves.

praying-togetherSometimes the little prayer that I referenced above is a good way to bring both of you to a humble, open starting point from which to honestly discuss a solution to the problem. Nothing exposes your own vulnerability and honest concern for them more than asking the other person, “Will you pray with me?” If they cannot or will not respond positively to that request, then perhaps they are not yet ready to accept your help.

So, my friends, as we venture into a new week ahead; don’t be afraid to seek the help you need and be ready and open to give the help that you can to others. In either role, never be afraid to bring the power of God into the conversation. That may be the best advice of all.


Human Rights Day

December 10, 2016

Today (Dec 10) is International Human Rights Day. From the International Human Rightsworld-human-rights-day Day site, here is a little background –

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to  observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year, Human Rights Day calls on everyone to stand up for someone’s rights! Disrespect for basic human rights continues to be wide-spread in all parts of the globe. Extremist movements subject people to horrific violence. Messages of intolerance and hatred prey on our fears. Humane values are under attack.

We must reaffirm our common humanity. Wherever we are, we can make a real difference. In the street, in school, at work, in public transport; in the voting booth, on social media.

The concept of human rights often gets misinterpreted, because it is often misunderstood.

According to the International Human Rights Day site –

digity-and-justiseRights are often considered fundamental to civilization, being regarded as established pillars of society and culture, and the history of social conflicts can be found in the history of each right and its development. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, “rights structure the form of governments, the content of laws, and the shape of morality as it is currently perceived.”

From the Wikipedia site comes this definition of Human Rights –

Rights are legal, social, or ethical principles of freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people, according to some legal system, social convention, or ethical theory. Rights are of essential importance in such disciplines as law and ethics, especially theories of justice and deontology.

So, rights are not intrinsic to human life, but exist because as humans we feel the need to define how we expect (or hope) to live and how we expect to interact with others within a society. They are really expectations that we codify into laws.

Do you actually know what your “rights” are within the society that you live? Few of us do. Here are links to some of the “rights” that various levels of societies have declared.

The United Nations has declared a set of Internationals Human Rights, which the United States as a member is supposed to follow. Your right as defined by the U.N. are defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In addition, at the most fundamental level of rights as a U.S. citizen, the Constitution’s Bill of Rights defines a basic set of rights that we all enjoy.

The concept of U.S. Law includes the definition of additional rights under various laws that are passed by our governmental bodies at all levels. Most of these are lumped under the umbrella term Civil Rights. Civil Rights exist at both the national and local level. Example may be found at http://civilrights.findlaw.com/ and for Michigan at http://www.michigan.gov/mdcr/0,4613,7-138-69583—,00.html.

All of these “rights” are things that we grant each other as members of the societies that we live in. These rights help set our expectations for how things will work and what things we can count upon; however, even the most basic of these rights are not guaranteed, unless the system of government that we happen to be under at the moment agrees toslave-chains-broken extend them to us. In the world in which we live, slavery and human trafficking still exist in almost every country on earth. Poverty exists and robs people of their rights. A lack of health care (affordable or otherwise) still robs people of their health and well-being. People are still being killed for their religious beliefs and people are being shunned for their lifestyles. Racism and prejudices continue to hold sway over opportunity and access to jobs, housing and other basic needs/rights.

To truly understand and appreciate the societal nature of what we calls our “rights”, one could watch an episode or two of the TV Reality show Alone. One can make the argument that the person depicted in that show has all of the same “rights” there in the wilderness that he has back in society; however, the society is not there with him to provide for those rights. He can stand there all day shouting that he has a basic human right to certain things, but it will do him no good.

So, we have “rights” because others in society that we live in agree to extend to us those every-human-has-rightsrights. The same society that grants us those rights usually imposes some restrictions or rules on the exercise of those rights and in many cases agree to pay (usually in the form of taxes) to make sure that they and you can exercise those rights. It has become somewhat normal to hear people claiming all sorts of “rights”, when in reality they are talking about needs or desires. Needs and even desires may eventually turn into “rights” if enough people in the society agree that everyone should have them and give the extension of those needs or desires the weight of law. That is especially true in those things that we classify as our civil rights.

Today, we celebrate the progress that mankind and our societies have achieved in recognizing and agreeing upon the many “rights” that we enjoy. None of those rights should be taken for granted, because none of them are guaranteed by anything more than the will of the majority in our society. All must be defended or they might be lost. Vigilance must also be kept to insure that the rules governing the extensionstand-up-for-rightson of those rights do not become so onerous as to render the rights moot.

Care must also be taken to insure that the rights of minorities in our society are not trampled upon by the majority. There is no group in our society, whether ethic, or racial or
gender or political or as measured by any other metric, that is not in some way a minority; when viewed from the perspective of the total of all people not in their group. The power of temporary associations of groups to make up a majority is fleeting, as is any power to extend rights or change our rights or the rules that govern them. That power must be used wisely, lest members of the majority on one “right” find themselves in the minority on another “right”. It is in our best self-interests overall to be kind and sensitive and human-rights-day-dec-10inclusive as we extend rights and the rules that govern them.

So, go read about our human rights as citizens of the world and our rights as citizens of a country and a state. Celebrate the fact that we have evolved enough as a human race to understand the need to extend these basic rights to all of our citizens. Be glad that you are not Alone. You have rights. Celebrate!


After the tears…

December 8, 2016

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog featured this quote – “I like walking in the rain, because nobody can see my tears.”  (Charlie Chaplin) Most people did not know about the great anguish that Charlie Chapman had during his life. Chaplin’s life was far removed from the funny little tramp that he played on the screen.

Jack also wrote – Billy Graham has said that he often prays to God with tears in his eyes. God understands crying, as did Leonardo da Vinci  who said – “Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.” 

crying-1Sometimes having a good cry is the best immediate response to something that has happened in our lives, both sad and happy things. Letting go for that moment and allowing yourself to weep provides a needed release from the unnatural control that we are all taught as we grow up. That same need for self-control also dulls the joy that we might otherwise feel from good things in our life. As Golda Meir once said – “Those who do not know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.”

Still, eventually life must go on, and as C.S. Lewis said, “Crying is all right in its way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.” After the tears of pain or sorrow or even joy, one must put the cause of thatremorseful torment of tears into perspective within their life. Tears caused by pain, loss or sorrow most often involved another person and our memories of them. Perhaps the pain was caused by a snub or by bullying or by someone making a harsh or unfeeling remark to your or about you. In any case, life goes on and you must, too. “There is an ancient tribal proverb I once heard in India. It says that before we can see properly we must first shed our tears to clear the way.”  –  Libba Bray

So, what comes after the tears? I love this quote from Steve Maraboli – “Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.” There is forgivealmost always something or someone to forgive, even if you realize that it is yourself. I have witnessed people crying in anger at a deceased life partner because they felt like they left them here alone. They later have to forgive themselves for that selfish display. Perhaps the term forgive should include the thought of healing, too.

Certainly there is always something to learn from any event that causes us to come to tears – both good and bad – and we will be forever changed by that addition to our knowledge base. The memories of a lost loved one always influence our own future decisions.

The final step to take is to move on. Life goes on and so must you. It may be harder now, at least for now; but you have shed the tears that have watered your future and now it is timecivil-war-tear-catcher to make the best of that future.

Going back to Biblical times, in some cultures (ours included in the 19th century during the Victorian Era) tear catchers called LACHRYMOSA or LACHRYMATORY were devices for capturing tears of sadness and loss and saving them. Often the tears that were captured would be used in small vases into which a single flower might be placed at grave sites of the lost loved one. It was a ritualistic way to end the tears and bring a sense of closure to the cause of those tears by using them to honor the lost loved one at their grave site. Life could then move on.

Have faith that God sees your anguish and hears your cries. Psalm 56 says,

“You keep track of all my sorrows.

You have collected all my tears in your bottle.

You have recorded each one in your book.”

rainbowSo, go ahead and have that good cry;  whether it be in sadness or in joy, forgive and then realize in the words of John Vance Cheney that – “The soul would have no rainbow had the eyes no tears.” Find the rainbow after the tears and move on. God will keep track of those tears for you and makes the rainbow to show you the way forward.