Get compunction and then get a new life…

August 30, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

The beginning of compunction is the beginning of a new life.”  (George Eliot)

Jack went on to write – I’ll never forget the teacher who said, “You can do better, Jack.”  I felt compunction.

OK, full disclosure – I had to look the word up. Compunction is not a word that I use, not one that I really understood the meaning of, although one gets an idea of it’s meaning from what Jack wrote.

compunction: noun

[kuh m-puhngk-shuh n]

  1. a feeling of uneasiness or anxiety of the conscience caused by regret for doing wrong or causing pain; contrition; remorse.
  2. any uneasiness or hesitation about the rightness of an action.

In the case that Jack sited from his own life the compunction was a feeling of regret when his teacher pointed out to him that he could be doing better. We all go thorough those thoughts about how we could be doing better if we tried harder or focused more or maybe even just thought longer about things before we act on them.

You don’t have to beat yourself up to have compunction, but it is important to take action after a period of introspection and compunction. Just stilling there thinking about how bored2bad things are or how bad you are for doing what you do is the stepping off point for depression. Compunction helps you identify the things that you should and could be doing differently in order to change your life. Taking actions on those insights is what causes the changes to happen.

restless sleepSo, if compunction is keeping you awake at night; do something about it. Change your life. Get up in the morning with the resolve to take actions to stop going in the direction that is causing you the anxiety or remorse that keeps you awake at night. Many times that only requires small changes in your life; how you act towards and react to others; how you prioritize the use of your time; or maybe just doing the things that you’ve known all along that you should be doing, but just didn’t have the time.

Perhaps the best way to deal with the consequences of compunction is to take those concerns and anxieties to God in prayer and ask for His help in overcoming them. A major contributor to the guilt that you feel is caused by your ego-driven belief that youman praying are in charge of things, that you can change things and that it is only through your own efforts that they will change. Take the time to pause and utter the little prayer that I’ve recommended here many times, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”  Just saying and believing that little prayer will release you from the need to feel compunction about the things that you’ve done and left undone in your life. It will free you to move on to the action steps that are needed. It will change your life for the better and you will sleep better at night.

So, maybe a good catch phrase would be something like the ambulance-chaser lawyers use on TV – “Got compunction? Better get God.”

Maybe accepting each other is what is required…

August 29, 2018

In his post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog today, Jack used this quote –  “There would be no society if living together depended upon understanding each other.”  (Eric Hoffer)

Jack went on to write a little about Hoffer and explained that he predicted the current poisonous political environment over 70 years ago.

In order to really internalize Hoffer’s quote one need to deal first with the definition of the word “society” and then focus upon the word “understanding”.

so·ci·e·ty: noun

  1. the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community.


noun: understanding

sympathetic awareness or tolerance.

“a problem that needs to be handled with understanding”

synonyms:     compassion, sympathy, pity, feeling, concern, consideration, kindness, sensitivity, decency, humanity, charity, goodwill, mercy, tolerance

“she treated me with understanding”

adjective: understanding

sympathetically aware of other people’s feelings; tolerant and forgiving.

“people expect their doctor to be understanding”

synonyms:     compassionate, sympathetic, sensitive, considerate, tender, kind, thoughtful, tolerant, patient, forbearing, lenient, merciful, forgiving, humane

The concept of a society is usually based upon the mutual acceptance and agreement of the members to abide by a set of social norms – those things that are expected of the members and accepted by all as the way to act towards each other. Other than the order out of chaosearliest tribal clans, which may be viewed as proto societies within themselves, the various religions that sprang up among the tribes probably formed the first societies.

There have been various religion-based expressions of those norms, usually within the writings and sacred books of the religion. All regions have some set of codified rules that the adherents are expected to abide by. Many countries and their societies (including the United States) were founded, based upon many of those religious principles and norms. It should also be noted that when our American society was founded there was actually very little understanding or acceptance of anyone who ventured outside the accepted norms of the very restrictive religious beliefs of the time. That original society also accepted and embraced the concept of slavery and the thought that the slaves were somehow lesser beings than their owners.

Our society has been evolving ever since its inception in ways that force the acceptance of differences upon the society. Much of that evolution has been driven by the changes that immigration brought with it. The early settlers were joined over time by waves of new members of society, each of which brought different mores and traditions withcrowd-2045498_1920 them from different regions of the world. Society has always initially resisted those changes; but, the society eventually found a way to accommodate and subsume those differences.

We are still experiencing immigration driven changes that the society is trying to understand and accept (witness the influx of newcomers from the East and Middle-East who brought with them the Islam faith). Furthermore, new changes from within the existing society membership have involved differences in lifestyle or sexual preferences and have challenged once again the norms of the society. Neither understanding or acceptance has been quick to come with any of these changes.

Confronted with so many changes and challenges to the existing order of things, perhaps today’s quote is the best advice. We may never understand each other and what makes the other person so different from ourselves; but, we can work to accept them as they are and try to see how their different point of view can benefit our society as a whole.

So, let’s focus on accepting…

Adjective:  ac·cept·ing

  1. able or willing to accept something or someone : inclined to regard something or someone with acceptance rather than with hostility or fear
  2. tending to regard different types of people and ways of life with tolerance and acceptance.

Notice that there is no need to understand in order to accept and be tolerant of others and the way that they dress or behave. We seldom think that the way that we ourselves dress or behave or the music that we like or how we talk may be offensive to others; but, predjuicesthere is often just as much tolerance required of others to put up with us as there is of us to accept them.

We are all together in this boat that we call our society. We may accept each other and support common goals for an orderly society or we can let misunderstanding, suspicion and fear splinter the order of our society and set us constantly in conflict with one another.

Perhaps the answer is to be found once again is the best of the founding fathers intentions when they stated –

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Those words form the base upon which our modern society was built and they don’t demand any understanding of each other, just acceptance that we are all pursuing those goals together. Let’s focus more on accepting and worry less about understanding.

Have a great and accepting week ahead.

It’s getting harder to be patient; so, do something about it…

August 23, 2018

A series of quotes from recent posts to the Jack’s Winning Words blog kind of sets the stage this morning.

Let’s start with this recent gem –

“Truth isn’t truth.”  (Rudy Giuliani)

Followed by this piece of sage advice –

“Never lie to someone who trusts you, and never trust someone who lies to you.”  (Mark Twain)

From there, it doesn’t take much to segue to this –

“There’s a point when patience ceases to be a virtue.”  (Thomas Morton)

Eventually, one ends up here –

“Did you know that Dammit I’m mad spelled backwards is Dammit I’m mad?”  (Sent by Norlene)

Anger and disappointment that got us all into this current mess, but that won’t get us out of it. That same anger has served to further polarize the country into Them vs Us camps.protesters It doesn’t much matter which of those tribes you have joined – both are wrong.

So here we are. Mad and out of patience. What now? The easy thing to do is to join the ranks of the disaffected on the barricades, to choose a side and begin attacking the opposition. That is what is fueling the continued invective pronouncements and outrageous actions that are the fodder of the nightly news.

So, what are reasonable people to do? One thing might be to step back and understand that our ancestors created a truly wonderful system of checks and balances in our government, if we allow them to work. The way to letting them work is to make sure that there is not a huge imbalance in power in any of the three legs of government. Each of the legs serves somewhat as a check and balance against the other two. Even the actions voteof a headstrong President are eventually stymied by the legislative process necessary to carry out or at least to fund the things that he would like to do. And, a lopsided legislative environment can be somewhat moderate by Executive actions or Judiciary rulings. A judiciary that goes too far may be overruled through legislative action.

We have the opportunity this November to turn our frustration and anger into actions, which will restore the balance that the founders of the country envisioned when they wrote the Constitution and established that system of checks and balances. A relatively small shift in the makeup of the legislative body would bring things more into balance and force the compromises that are so necessary to govern well. On a more local note, the efforts to get rid of gerrymandering by placing the question of how redistricting is done on our ballot must succeed.

So, if you are out of patience and ready to say “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”; turn that anger into energy to work for change that will let our system work as it was designed. It really doesn’t matter which party the candidates that you vote take actionfor belong to; so long as they have the will and the backbone to do what’s right for America and not just to join one side or the other in the current melee. Look for candidates who refuse to acquiesce to the litmus tests of their party. Look for candidates who don’t just thump their Bibles and pontificate about their “Christian” family values, but who live their lives as Christians with thoughtful concern for the well being of others. Look for candidates who stay above the mudslinging and use of negative ads (that may be the hardest thing to find) and who focus instead on defining a plan for a better future.

It may indeed be harder to be patient and easier to be mad; however, patience, when combined with thoughtful actions and perseverance will out.

Pardon me….

August 13, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes today’s little gem – “It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.”  (Francis of Assisi)

One could substitute the words forgiving and forgiven in that little phrase and it would mean the same. It might also ring a bell in your head about where you’ve heard that thought expressed before. In variations of the Lord’s Prayer the words sins or trespasses are used.

Pre-judging people based upon their appearance or judging them because of their sorry 3actions are trespasses that many of us commit every day, without giving it any thought until later (if at all). Sometimes, it is yourself that you have to pardon, maybe for your thoughts or actions. Getting down on yourself really doesn’t help, but that pardon should also come with a resolution not to make that same mistake again, whether it was an act of prejudice or just one of insensitivity or neglect. Pardoning yourself is the first step to bettering yourself.

In our day-to-day lives there are many opportunities to pardon others for their actions or inaction; for their remarks that were probably not meant to hurt, but which did none the less; for their slights whether real or perceived. There is no positive value to be gained by carrying those things around in your head.. Do not carry their handshakebaggage. Do not let their actions change the course of your life. Pardon their trespasses and get on with life. They probably don’t even realize their trespass and they certainly don’t understand that you’ve forgiven them; but you do and that sets you free from those trespasses.

Maybe this is God’s way of paying it forward. Forgive the person in the line behind you. Resolve this Monday morning to set out this week in the frame of mind that you will pardon those who trespass against you and let the Lord take care of pardoning your trespasses.

Have a great week ahead…

God’s role – is it preventing or coping…

August 12, 2018

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog used this quote – “God is never late, but He sure misses a lot of opportunities to be early.”  (From Mike Watson)

That quote begs the question of what is God’s role in our lives? Do we expect Him to get there early and prevent bad things from happening to us or do we turn to Him after those things have happened as the source of our strength to get through them and go on with life. For most of us the answer is probably yes to both. We may pray for God’s help when facing life’s problems and we most certainly do when handed one of life’s setback.

I’ve shared my use of the little quote from the Bible, “Not my will, but Thy will be done” (Luke 22:42). I find it to be a help both going into situations and for dealing with things that have occurred. One of the main things that it does is relieve the need to feel like I’m in control of everything. In reality, we are in control of very little but our own reactionsbored2 to things and events.  Trying to maintain the delusion that we are in control just causes frustration, anger and self-destructive depression.

In praying to God that His will be done in our lives ahead of some upcoming event or confrontation of a problem, we might best ask Him to help us do the right thing, make the right decisions and handle things the right way. The term “right” will be determined by God as the events unfold, but a good guideline would be to keep that old question, “What would Jesus do?” in mind. Keep in mind, also, that things may not go as we had hoped or wished that they would, but they jesus-as-lightalways go the way that God intended. Sometimes we have to step back from things and try to discern the lesson or good that can come from the outcome.

What is God’s role in your life? Is He the guiding light, showing your the right things to do or do you turn to him as the court of last resort when things haven’t gone according to your plans? The good news is that He is willing and able to play both roles in our lives and will always be there for us. That comes from another saying from the Bible – “I will never leave you or forsake you” – Hebrews 13:5

So, it’s really up to you to decide when you turn to God for help. Most of the time it is less woman-prayingpainful if you turn to him early. It’s not really that God misses lots of opportunities to be early, it’s usually that we don’t turn to Him until it’s almost too late. So, pray early and pray often. God is standing by to answer.

Did anybody die?

August 8, 2018

Admittedly, I’m one of those people who worry and agonize over things that I’m doing or planning to do. That’s especially true if the task that I’m worrying about is something that I signed up to do for others or for an organization. How many of you can identify with that?worried1

Sometimes it involves things like organizing an event on behalf of an organization or maybe it’s a personal commitment to someone, like taking them somewhere or watching their houseplant while they are away. Whatever it is; if you are like me, you may have a tendency to overthink it, over analyze it and over become overly critical of yourself, if things go awry.  You may also become overly critical of your performance of the task after the fact.

Earlier this year, I was one of the two people who organized and presented the annual marching troopsFourth of July parade in our little Village. There are lots of tasks and decisions needed to organize and pull off a parade and lots of places where one can look back and think that they might have done a better job. After what was by all measures a successful parade, I was following my natural tendency to be critical of myself for what we accomplished and what we could have done differently. My cohort in the effort listened to my laments for a while; but, finally, he just looked at me and asked, “Did anybody die?”

As I stopped to think about answering that question, it finally became clear to me that I was agonizing over things, most of which couldn’t be changed and which weren’t life boredthreatening or even all that important in the grand scheme of things. Just taking the time to think about that question changed how I looked at the situation and that has served to keep things in my life in better perspective. I’m reminded of a little quote in a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog –

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”  (Wayne Dyer)

So, if you. too, let the day-to-day things in life that you face become worries or concerns, maybe asking yourself, “Did anybody die or will anybody die?” because of this decision or your acgreat-jobtion. You may quickly find that the decisions that you’ve been agonizing over, while important to you and others at the time, are not life threatening. Your life and theirs will go on. Given that revelation, you can then focus on doing the best that you can in the situation. Instead of beating yourself up over not doing something or not making a different decision, be happy that you did your best.

No one died! Get on with your life.

Build that bridge…

August 7, 2018

“The bridge between dreams and achievement is built through actions” –  Norm Werner

I thought that I had an original little quote there, but I googled it and apparently many others have had the same thoughts. One that was close is

 “The distance between your dreams and reality is called action.” – Unknown

The things that popped up the most in the Google response to my query were quotes about the differences between dreams and goals. I suppose that it is easy to confuse the two in random musings. I certainly understand that goals are achievable things with deadlines, while dreams are, well, just dreams.

Perhaps dreams are just a starting point, which morph into hopes and then into goals. In any event, nothing really happens until one takes actions to achieve those dreams/hopes/goals. I like the bridge analogy because it forces one to think of the man daydreamingplanning and piece-by-piece work that goes into building a physical bridge. Achieving most dreams/hopes/goals is like that. One must spend some time in the planning stage ( I sometimes call it the “fixin’ to” stage) and break the actions that are needed down into smaller, achievable pieces. It is then possible to start accomplishing those little pieces and to great-jobcelebrate little milestone on the way to the goal.

It is important not only to keep the big picture, the overall; goal, in mind; but, also, it is important to recognize and celebrate the little victories along the way – the accomplishment of those little intermediate steps in building the bridge to the dream/hope/goal. Those little pauses to celebrate allow us to refresh our enthusiasm and strength and allow us to re-evaluate the dream/hope/dream. Sometimes that re-evaluation causes us to see that we were shooting for too little and that we should be dreaming even bigger. Sometimes the cold reality of a good re-evaluation may cause us to shift our dreams and hopes towards a more achievable goal. In either case, we can then set off in pursuit of the next small victory in building that bridge.

Before you start out today, re-imagine your dreams/hopes/goals for the day and think about what small piece of the bridge to that overall destination you can build today. Then go for it. Take action! Build that bridge…

Waste not…Act now…

August 4, 2018

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this ancient gem – “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”  (Aesop)

Sometimes acts of kindness involve money, but most of the time they just involve doing being kind 1something for someone else that needs to be done. Opening a door or smiling and saying hello are example s of very small acts of kindness. Those aren’t just empty gestures and they are usually acknowledged by the recipient. There is no expectation of reward or even reciprocation, but even those small acts can make one feel better about themselves and about their fellow man. They are overt acts that say, “I see and acknowledge you. I see your need and I am happy to help.”

There are other instances in the animal world where individuals help each other, whether it be monkeys and apes grooming each other or herd animals coming to the aid of a member that may be under attack. Those examples could be classified as acts of survival or of shared need by those animals. Humans, however, are the only animals that demonstrate conscious acts of kindness towards each other that are extended not our of need or to survive, but as an expression of concern and love for fellow humans.

jesus-as-lightSo, take the opportunities that you are given each day to extend an act of kindness towards someone else. Your gesture of kindness are not wasted, even if they go unacknowledged at the time. Showing kindness to total strangers is a big part of what bonds us together as humans. Remember the words of Jesus as he taught his Disciples in Matthew 25:40 – “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Waste not…Act now…be kind to one another.

Don’t let tradition be your jailer…

August 1, 2018

From the blog Jack’s Winning Words, comes this sage piece of advice – “Tradition is a guide, not a jailer.”  (W. Somerset Maugham)

Jack went on to write – “We’ve always done it this way” are words often heard when someone suggests a change.  Of course, some traditions are good and worth keeping.  But, new ideas can be good, too.” 

I’m on the Board of Directors for our local historical society and I hear that little phrase jail.png“We’ve always done it that way” a lot. The same can be said about most churches and their services. I’m on the church council at my church, too. Both represent organizations that need to make changes to the way that things have always been done; but both also represent organizations that are in danger of being held hostage to tradition.

Times change, tastes change, options change. All of a sudden Sunday mornings are no longer reserved for church, but rather for sports practices or games. There are tournaments to be played, ice time to be had, away games to travel to and any number of other things vying for the time of the families that used to go to church. In the case of the historical society, the general population finds other, more exciting things to do with their time than going to the local historical museum. “Never change anything” is the rallying cry of dying churches and organizations across the land. Proudly the members stand (usually alone) as bulwarks no-changeagainst modern times, changing tastes and new traditions. Empty and abandoned churches abound as do defunct little community organizations that time has passed by.

Both of the organizations that I’m a part of are attempting some new things to try to reverse the downward spiral that they appear to be on currently. Both represent organizations that are “aging out”; that is, they have mostly older members who are dying off, with few new, younger members to replace them. It’s not necessarily that the current members will defend against change to the last man; many, in fact, would welcome change if it saved the organization. The real challenge is understanding what younger people want from the organizations these days in order to join and support them. Must the church become a rock and roll mega church in order to survive? How can the historical society somehow make the sharing of history exciting and entertaining for younger people?  There are no easy answers to those questions.

new-way-forwardI think the key to solving these problems in the church and in little local organizations starts with the advice of Somerset Maugham. We (they) must not become slaves to tradition, locked in the past. Rather we must figure out how to honor those traditions while changing with the times. The “good old days” are behind us, but there are still good times ahead for those organizations willing to explore new approaches and new ideas.

In my church, we have launched a Saturday evening service once a month for families that cannot attend on Sunday mornings, due to other commitments. Our local historical society has a new program to take history out to the schools and other places through programs that share stories and some of our artifacts from our local history collection. time for changeThose are small steps, but they are steps in the right direction – the direction of change. Perhaps they are not so much breaking with tradition as they are adding new traditions into the mix. In either case, tradition is no longer a jailer.

What are your churches and local organizations doing to stay relevant and viable in these changing times?