In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this very appropriate quote. With all of the political rhetoric that is swirling around about people being “woke”, this truth is sometimes overlooked –
“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” (Johnny Depp)
The fact is that homophobia, bigotry, and racism exist in our society. Sexism and the glass ceiling exist in our society. Many things that we know in our hearts are wrong exist in our society and some have become systemic. You may try to close your eyes or look the other way when you see or encounter these things, but you cannot close your heart to the feeling deep down that they are wrong.
Most of those things are driven by fear. Fear of the unknown or unusual. Fear of people who don’t look or act like me. Fear of things that I don’t understand. That fear provokes our fight or flight reaction. Many politicians, who are in the news almost daily, feed on that fear to garner support for themselves.
Some people when faced with the truth become angry and fight. Many just try to run away from or ignore the things or people that they encounter or the wrongs that they witness happening. But there is always that pesky feeling in their hearts that this is wrong. It is the acknowledgement of that feeling and perhaps taking some action to deal with that acknowledgement that really constitutes being “woke”.
There are certainly those on the “woke” side of things who propose solutions that also cause fear – “defund the police” comes to mind. They took the need to resolve the systemic problems within many police departments to the extreme and proposed dissolving the police departments and starting over with law enforcement. That is not a practical solution either and just feeds the fears of the people who are still in denial.
What can you do? First, don’t just close your eyes and try to pretend that the issues don’t exist. Trust that feeling in your heart that there is a wrong going on and resolve to take action to correct it. At a personal level that means not participating in the wrong. Trying hard not to be a bigot or a racist or a homophobe. Doing what is right, yourself, instead of looking the other way.
At a higher level one can join the various groups or movements that are working to make peaceful corrections in our society. Those are not groups out rioting in the streets or walking about brandishing firearms. They are working for changes to the laws or to policies that support discrimination within businesses or government. Find a group like that and join their efforts.
Doing those things will change the feelings that you get from your heart. Doing the right things never makes your heart feel bad. You cannot ignore the truth. Your heart knows.
In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “Everybody’d be nice to you if they knew you were dying.” (Bruce – Robert DeNiro – in Bang the Drum Slowly)
The ironic reality is that everyone will be dying, we just don’t know when. Maybe we should all be nice to one another, since all of us will die someday, somehow; we just don’t know when or how.
We often hear people saying, “I wish I had the chance to tell him/her that I loved him/her before they died.” The sad fact is that you did and in some cases still do have that chance to tell them, but you did not (or do not) take it. Perhaps if we start each day with a mental to-do list that includes being nice to all that we meet and telling our loved ones how much they mean to us, we will not end the day with regrets.
I often see T-shirts with the message “Be Nice” on them. I don’t recall seeing any with the message “Be Mean”. Maybe, if you can imagine that everyone that you encounter during the day is wearing a Be Nice T-shirt, that will help you be nice to them, too.
The real opposite of being nice is not really being mean, it is being indifferent. When we encounter a stranger, maybe even one who is obviously in need or distress, we all too often indifferent to them. We do not take the opportunity to inquire about them for fear that they will ask something of us. We feel that we are much too busy with issues or priorities in our own lives to take time to listen to their concerns or needs. We’re not being mean; we are just being (or trying to be) indifferent.
Every Sunday morning at church we start the service with a confession of our sins and we use the phrase, “things that we have done and things lefty undone” to define those sins. I often reflect on those opportunities that I left undone during the week out of indifference to someone else. What comes to your mind?
So, put on your mental “Be Nice” T-shit every day and guard against indifference. Have in mind that everybody that you meet that day is dying someday – maybe today.
As this graphic points out, we are oft limited by our own imaginations.
If you imagine failure instead of success, you will probably achieve what you have imagined.
I have written many times about how professional athletes, especially golfer, use a technique called visualization to rehearse and “see” a successful shot before they actually executing it. I suspect than none who use this technique imagine themselves dubbing the shot or hitting a “duck hook” instead of the perfect drive. Many amateurs, on the other hand approach their shots with disaster in mind and achieve that imagined result more often than not.
Limits are barriers to further progress or success. Sometimes there are very real limits, governed by things that cannot be changed, no matter how hard or long one may try. Much of time, however, the limits that you “see” are self-imposed figments of your own imagination.
Resolve to imagine success instead of failure and most “barriers” become just challenges for which you can imagine a solution. See yourself overcoming those challenges instead of being stopped by them.
There was a story on the national news recently about a man who was born with no arms and only stubby little legs. The story was not about the powered wheelchair that he uses to move around the house, but about him driving a car for the last 15 years. Think for a moment about how many obstacles he had to overcome to achieve that. Put some of your own challenges up against that and you might see how small they really are. With the help of some very inventive people who specialize in modifying cars for the disabled, he was able to realize his vision of driving himself around.
For most of us, who are not so severely handicapped, we can find help in overcoming life’s challenges by enlisting the help of a very imaginative God who will find ways for us to persevere and overcome life’s challenges. Sometimes God changes the destination and outcome rather than helping us achieve some imagined goal, but He always helps us see how to be happy with where we end up.
So, starting out this week, don’t waste time imagining limits for yourself. Rather, visualize the success that you hope to achieve and set out to realize that vision. Reinforce that vision of success by soliciting God’s help. If you believe in God there are no limits. Believe that instead of imagining limits.
I like this quote because it harkens back to hope – “There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts.” (Helen Fagin)
The facts and reality of day-to-day life can often get tough or boring, but if one has hope and dreams based upon that hope it is more bearable.
You may have been inclined to answer the question in today’s title with the word “faith”. I would submit that faith is based upon hope and the dream of a better afterlife to come.
One may have somewhat passive hope and dreams or one may use that hope and those dreams to motivate them into action. President Barack Obama put it this way in his Iowa caucus victory speech in 2008–
“Hope is the belief that destiny will not be written for us, but by us, by the men and women who are not content to settle for the world as it is, who have the courage to remake the world as it should be.”
There are many times in life when the “facts” of what is happening around us or to us may not be very encouraging. It is during those times that our faith and the hope that it is based upon sustain us. We get through those times because we know and trust that we can get through them, because we are not alone. We have not only hope but faith in that hope.
There was a quote in the Jack’s Winning Words blog recently that also seems appropriate to use here.
“I trust the next chapter, because I know the author.” (Unknown)
If you have faith in God, you know the author of your life and you can have hope and faith in whatever He has laid out for you in the next chapter of your life. What is even more comforting is that the same hope and faith will carry you on into the chapter after this life. You can be sustained when facing death not in fear, but in hope and anticipation, because you know the author for that, too.
We all have hopes and dreams, based upon those hopes. As for me, I trust the next chapter in my life, because I know the author.
“The audacity of hope: In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us.” (Barack Obama, Democratic National Convention, 2004)
I thought of that quote that I had saved in my collection of quotes earlier this week when I watched one of the little teaser video segments on Facebook from the new NETFLIX show The Sandman.
The fantasy drama show is loosely based upon a DC Comics series by the same name. The Sandman premise is that there is a being, the Sandman, aka. Dream, played by Tom Sturridge, who is responsible for dreams and the dream world, where pretty much anything is possible. We are told that Dream was imprisoned by a mortal wizard for centuries but escaped and now is trying to reclaim his possessions and his power. The show is far-fetched but can be interesting and entertaining to watch, at least in the short segments that I’ve seen.
The segment that I watched that brought this quote to mind is one in which the Sandman battles with woman character named Lucifer Morningstar, the ruler of Hell. Both are powerful characters, and the battle is waged by each creating imaginary personas for themselves to attack the other. They each state “I am…” and then whatever it is they have imagined attacking the other – a man-killing tiger, a tiger-killing serpent, a large serpent-eating bird and on and on. They go through a variety of increasingly powerful and scary evil incarnations of animals, imaginary beasts and then a series increasingly larger objects – planets, solar systems, galaxies and the universe, until Lucifer conjures up a seemingly final adversary, I am the “the death of all things”.
Dream is apparently beaten by the devil and seemed to be dying himself when Lucifer Morningstar asks him the question, “What can you be that can withstand the death of all things?” Barely able to raise his head Dream utters the word – “Hope” and Lucifer realizes that she is beaten.
Hope is the only answer for the death of all things and is the basis upon which faith is built. Hope is the greatest gift that God has given mankind. You need not be an imaginary character on TV, just be yourself and keep your faith strong through hope and prayer. Keep hope and your faith alive and death will have no power over you.
Two quotes that I had in my collection of quotes seemed to work well together today –
Ego says, ‘Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel inner peace.’ Spirit says, ‘Find your inner peace and then everything will fall into place.’ (Marianne Williamson)
“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” (Wayne Dyer, motivational author)
The first quote talks about letting go of the egotistical view that one can control things that are happening in life, while the second gives great advice on how to let go of that egotistical view of life.
I have advised many times about using the same little prayer to get yourself in the right frame of mind to deal with the issues of life – “Not my will, but thy will be done.”
To some that prayer sounds like you are giving up or surrendering to life’s events. The reality is that you were never in control of the events no matter how hard you tried to be. That was just your ego trying to assert itself. The only thing that you can really control is your response to those events. That prayer allows one to let themself off the hook for causing or controlling the events, but not for how one reacts to those events.
Williamson’s quote says nothing about being able to control or change the events in your life. Rather it refocuses you on accepting and dealing with those events and being at peace with yourself and the decisions that you make. Dyer’s quote provides a big clue on howe to achieve that peace. His advice is also to put ego aside (how you think life should be or maybe how you think you can make life turn out) and focus instead on calmly dealing with the events of life.
Note also that Williamson’s quote says nothing about changing the events that are occurring, only about changing the outcome of (or reaction to) those events as they apply to you. Rather than working yourself into a frantic lather worrying about things to come or beating yourself up over things that have already happened or trying futilely to control the events happening in your life, you can accept that they happen and focus instead on the best way to react to them. The best way, as Williamson opines is to be at peace and let the pieces fall into place. And, as Dyer recommends, the best way to achieve that peace is to retrain your mind to stop wasting time trying to be in control (your ego).
So, perhaps you should start your day with the little prayer, “not my will but thy will be done” and then follow up by asking God’s help to remain at peace and make good decisions on how to react to events as they unfold.
Dump your ego and find your inner peace that will help you get through the day.
I saved this quote from a recent email of quotes that I get every day – “The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.” (Amelia Earhart)
You might also say, “You can’t keep going if you never get started.” For many of us, it is that getting started part that is the hardest. I find that I spend way too much time thinking about what could go wrong, rather than what could go right and that often prevents me from doing anything at all. In the end, when I actually do something, it usually turns out alright and my fears almost never come to pass. Does that happen to you, too?
In physics there are the concepts of inertia and momentum. Things at rest tend to stay at rest and things in motion tend to stay in motion. There are people like that, too. Some people seldom get started. They allow themselves to stay at rest because they see that as the “safe” option. Other seldom rest, they seem always to be doing something to be constantly in motion. I’ll bet that you know both kinds of people. Which do you see yourself as being?
The thing is that nothing happens until something happens – until you put yourself in motion. Things, including your life, won’t change for the better all by themselves. They need to be nudged, to be put in motion and you can provide that nudge. You need be more than a by-stander in life. So, get started already.
What holds many people back is indecision about what direction to take. The truth is that moving in any direction is better than sitting in place. Even taking a direction that is wrong at least gets you started and you can make course corrections as you realize your mistakes. One learns, not from sitting there imagining how things might turn out, but from actually doing things right or wrong – from being in motion. So, get started already.
What will you do today? Will you sit there frozen into inertia by fears of what could go wrong or will you strike out in some direction and make corrections as needed? Make the difficult decision to act and then be tenacious about staying in motion. So, get started already.