Don’t dwell on what might have been…

November 24, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote – “There’s another life that I might have had, but I am having this one.”  (Kazuo Ishiguro)

I suppose that all of us, from time to time, muse about what might have been…how our lives would have been different had we made a different decision at some critical juncture. While musing about past decisions might be harmless, if we go beyond that and dwell upon those events or decisions that shaped our lives into what they have become, we might become fixated upon what might have been and sink into depression.  

It is much better to move on as Ishiguro indicates in his quote and focus upon the life that you did end up having and which still lies ahead of you. Life does not give us “do overs” it only provides the opportunity to “do next”.

Life does give us the chance to change the course that we are currently on and get back on a track that we deviated from through some decision that we now regret. The detour that we took may have set us back a bit, but it does not have to prevent us from doing the right thing or accomplishing our original goals.

Maybe say a little prayer asking God to help you to not look back; but, instead to focus on what is ahead. That will help turn around your thinking and stop thinking about what might have been. Instead, you can think about what might still be. Planning for your success is a much better use of your time than regretting your failures.

walking man

So, don’t dwell in the past and on the past; instead, live for and in the future. The future is a much more pleasant place in which to spend your time; for as Anne of Green Gables author L.M. Montgomery said – “Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”


Be happy with who you are…

November 20, 2020

“We are not what other people say we are.  We are who we know ourselves to be.  That’s OK.”  (Transgender Slogan) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

While this little saying may be attributed as a transgender slogan, it really should be everybody’s slogan. Too many of us worry about what we think others think we are or say we are when we should be more focused upon who we say we are. You might find it interesting how many people in places like New York City or Los Angeles call themselves actors or actresses and not the waitresses or cab drivers  or whatever that we think and say that they are when we encounter them in their jobs. To them those are just gigs to tide them over while they pursue their true calling in the arts, be they actors or singers or dancers or whatever. They know themselves as something else and for them that’s OK.

I have posted here many times about being happy with yourself, with who and what you are, with how you look, with what your goals and aspirations in life, and with being alone with yourself. It is probably more important than ever, in these days of COVID lockdowns, to be comfortable and happy being alone with yourself. Maybe it will help to know that you are never alone. God.is always there with you.

In the Tom Hanks movie Castaway, Hank’s character created an imaginary friend that he calls Wilson (after the brand on the ball) from a volleyball. He spends much of the movie “talking” to Wilson. It was a convenient vehicle in the movie for dialogue. In real life, many of us (I include myself here) talk to our pets or maybe to ourselves. Some of us may talk to God, but we probably don’t expect any more back from God than what Hanks got back from Wilson. It is a mechanism for us to have a “conversation” that helps lead us to decisions or to calm fears or concerns.

There is currently a Subway ad on TV featuring New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick in which a young lady bumps into Belichick while on her way to get a burger. She has a quick “conversation” with Belichick without him saying a word and makes a decision to get a Subway sandwich instead. At the end of the commercial she says, “Nice conversation.” To which he replies, “I know”. Our talks with God are often that way and we don’t even get the “I know” at the end; but, you know.

I’m OK

When I was in the big business world I got to go to many training session for managers. One was called “I’m OK, You’re OK”. It was based upon the 1967 book by the same title by Thomas Harris, M.D. The class helped the students understand various personality types, so that they could understand both where they were coming from (their own personality type) in any encounter and where (personality-wise )the other person might be coming from. A key take-away from that class is that no matter the differences both parties are OK – there is no wrong in any encounter, just differences and they need to be addressed with understanding of the other person’s point of view.

So to get all the way back up to the top of this post, we must start with I’m OK and then we can explore You’re OK and go from there. Know yourself and be OK with that. Maybe you need a Belichick-like conversation with God first. You’ll find it to be a good conversation. You’ll know.


It’s time to unlearn…

November 19, 2020

Pastor Jack Freed used this quote today in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “Be open to learn, to relearn and to unlearn.”  (Unknown)

That quote is probably based upon the words of Alvin Toffler. Alvin Toffler (October 4, 1928 – June 27, 2016) was an American writer, futurist, and businessperson known for his works discussing modern technologies, including the digital revolution and the communication revolution, with emphasis on their effects on cultures worldwide. He wrote the 1970 book Future Shock. Toffler is credited with saying: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Toffler was focused upon our ability to change in order to move on to future technologies. I prefer to focus here upon using unlearning and learning to change our behavior towards others.

It is widely believed that our preconceived notions and prejudices are learned behaviors, mostly picked up in our youth as we watch and learn from what is happening around us. If they are learned they should be able to be unlearned, which would free us to relearn the proper response to people and events. A key to unlearning is to be cognizant of the reaction or response and to question what it is based upon.

Is an immediate fear of someone because of their color or what their appearance in any way justified? Does the visual impression that someone new makes upon you bring with it the baggage or a pre-conceived idea of his or her behavior? How is it possible before you have even spoken to that person to have reached some conclusion about them? Those are all good questions about  our learned behaviors.

If you can ask yourself those questions before you go any further in the encounter with them, you at least have the opportunity to unlearn the things that are driving your immediate reaction to them. The unlearning process begins with suppressing any action based upon your initial thoughts – the turning away, the snide remark or the frown on your face. Those were things that you may have seen or heard your parents or friends do while you were growing up which you allowed to seep into your mind and influence your behavior. They have no basis in facts or any proof that they are valid. They are just learned behaviors. The fact that you have stopped yourself to question them means that It is time to unlearn.

Unlearning means that you admit that something that you thought was true is not, or at least that something that you have been allowing to control your actions is not right, or that you are no longer comfortable letting those thoughts control your behavior. If you can build that wall to stop the old behavior before it occurs, then you can explore learning new behaviors that are based on facts or actual input from your interactions with that person.

Replacing fear with curiosity is a great start. Instead of a reaction to avoid that person out of preconceived fears, you might approach them with an excited curiosity about the things that make them different. They obviously have a different view on the world than you do and you might learn something new about the world by exploring that point of view. That is why diversity in the business world is so important. A diverse company benefits from seeing more of the differing points of view and changing their strategy and products to accommodate or include those points of view.

Just as in the business world, your life can be so much more interesting and fulfilling if you unlearn your old prejudices and open yourself up to new and exciting relationships with a more diverse group of people. You must be open to new ideas and new ways of seeing things. That openness does bring with it some risk, but the potential rewards far outweigh the risks. You may still walk away from some encounters with no desire to get to know that person further, but you will more likely have started a new relationship with someone from whom you can learn and grow as a person.

Every new point of view that you encounter and embrace gives you a slightly different perspective on the world. Instead of just marching with a sign that says “Black Lives Matter”, you may now understand why and how they matter, because you took the risk and the time to get to know them. You may never choose to dye your hair green or purple or to wear a nose ring, but if you let yourself learn, you may appreciate the point of view that thinks that is a cool look. In that appreciation of the difference between you and them, you will have grown as a person. Even making the effort to understand the fears that are driving the behavior of the far right or far left political demonstrators will help you grow. You will better understand the positions of both groups and maybe find common ground in solutions to deal with those fears. If that can lead to discussions instead of yelling; that is a good thing.

In your prayers today, ask God to calm your fears and give you the patience and courage to unlearn your old prejudices and to learn how to become a better person – the person you really want to be – and as he cute saying goes – the person that your dog thinks you are.

Start unlearning, relearning and learning  anew today.


Being happy with me…

November 16, 2020

In a recent post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this Jim Carrey quote – “I think that everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.

Freed went on to write, I’m satisfied to be who I am, even if I’m not a millionaire.  Are you satisfied with who you are?

It is important that you be happy with yourself. I’ve written here before about loving yourself before you can love others. Too many people spend way too much time wishing that they could be someone else, usually someone famous. What they seldom realize is exactly what Carrey and many other famous people have shared – that the fame and fortune that they have has not made them happy. In fact, in many cases, it has had the opposite impact upon them and in extreme cases led to suicides.

“Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Happiness is not fond by amassing fame or fortune or even in accomplishing some lesser life goal that one may have. Successes in business and life are often fleeting and possessions are incapable of returning love. Most often the happiness that we seek in life is found in relationships. Long and successful marriages provide one example. Long and close friendships are another example of things that truly make us happy.

Perhaps the most important relationships that we can have to insure our happiness are with ourselves and with God. We must like ourselves, even love ourselves before we can even attempt to share love with others. A key to loving yourself is to accept the love of God, which frees you to forgive yourself and to love yourself – to be happy with who you are.

It is all too easy to get down on yourself, to be unforgiving with yourself, to be disappointed with yourself, to be unhappy with yourself. People who go too far down that path end up in the dungeon of depression and many have a hard time escaping. It is the overwhelming sense of futility with life that drive some to suicide. They see that as the ultimate way out of their unhappiness with themselves.

But, that is not the answer. The answer lies in accepting and forgiving yourself for whatever was in your past and turning away from the darkness of the dungeon and towards he light of hope. Whether faith kindles that hope or the hope provides the spark to light your faith up and show you the way out, a key step is the step you take towards God as part of your escape. Accepting God’s unconditional love allows you to love yourself and move on.

You can start by saying. “I’m happy with who I am, what I am and what I have.” From that point on, it is OK to seek more, achieve more and acquire more, so long as you always stay happy and thankful for whatever you become and whatever you achieve or acquire. Good thing and some bad things may happen in your life, but you will always be able to cope with whatever happens, if you are grounded in a love of God and self.

So start with God and ask him to help you be happy with “me”. Carrey was alluding in his quote to that real answer.


You hold your future…

November 14, 2020

Pastor Freed recently used this John Wooden quote in his blog , Jack’s Winning Words“I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know who holds the future.”

Wooden, the famous UCLA Basketball coach and one of the winningest basketball coaches ever, was an inspirational leader and quite the philosopher.

This quote acknowledges two great truths – none of us knows what the future will bring and each of us has the power to control how we react to whatever the future brings.

Events, the things that happen around us or maybe most often to us, are mostly out of our control. Sometimes what control we have is not to place ourselves in the way of those events; but, most of the time, we don’t have enough warning or information about what is going to happen to even make that decision.

There are times and events in our lives that we know enough about (maybe from previous attempts at something) that we can consider the various directions that the future might take and plan our response for each. Even then, we seldom really “see” more than a few of the possibilities and surprises often still occur. That is the future. How we deal with it is our future.

Some might say, “Well it’s all in God’s hands.” While it may be true that God knows what will happen, it is also true that the free will that God gave humankind leaves up to us to decide how we will react to those events. If we have no moral compass, no sense of what is right or wrong it is likely that we will choose poorly and our future will not be what we hoped it might be.

It is our faith (or lack of faith) that provides that compass or leaves us without direction. Charles Spurgeon had this to say about Mankind’s free will – “Free will carried many a soul to hell, but never a soul to heaven.”

[Charles Haddon Spurgeon (19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892) was an English Particular Baptist preacher. Spurgeon remains highly influential among Christians of various denominations, among whom he is known as the “Prince of Preachers”- Wikipedia]

Martin Luther (who hopefully needs no introduction) weighed in on Free Will with this thought – “Free will without God’s grace is not free at all, but is the permanent prisoner and bond slave of evil, since it cannot turn itself to good.”

So, free will gives us the freedom to make decisions that impact our future and God’s Grace helps us make the right decisions. Maybe we do hold the key to our own future, but God’s grace helps us choose the best door to the future in which to use that key. That is why I have posted here a few times that one ought not futilely pray to God to make the situations that one faces go away; but, rather, one should pray to God for help to make good decisions to deal with those situations. I recently post What kind of karma are you making about that very thing.

John Wooden knew and now you know who holds the future. You do. With God’s at your side it is a bright one.

Make your own future today. God will be there to help guide you.


Don’t just say it…do it!

November 12, 2020

Two recent quotes on the Jack’s Winning Words blog seem to go together to reinforce a point –

“We must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”  (JFK) 

“Don’t tell me what you believe in; I’ll observe how you behave and make my own determination.”  (Alex Trebek)

We’ve probably also all heard the old saw – “Do as I say, not as I do”. Yet it is from watching what we do that our children really learn, not from listening to what we said.

In business there was also the admonition that, “we must walk the walk, not just talk the talk”.

When it comes to one’s religious beliefs, it is most important that we find ways in our daily lives to live what we believe. We have a whole book full of advice and instructions on how to live, so it’s not as if we don’t know. However, knowing what’s right and doing what’s right are often different things. No matter how much noise the supposedly pious person makers about being a Christian, if he/she then turns around and makes life decisions based upon prejudices, hate and exclusion they are left standing naked in the court of public opinion. They are exposed for what they do and not for what they have said.

It is not always easy to choose the right path. In fact we are told in the Bible that life will not always be easy, but that in the end our continued faith will make it  worthwhile –

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  (James 1:2-4)

-and-

“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” (1 Peter 5:10)

The most common error, to my way of thinking, is acting or doing without thinking. It is in those knee-jerk reactions to things that our hidden prejudices and fears manifest themselves. After the fact, we often have an immediate reaction of “why did I just do that or say that”. This causes us to stop and think and to confront those hidden fears or prejudices. If only we took the time to think before reacting, we might better be able to act as our core beliefs would dictate. Those feelings might still be there, lurking in the back of our minds, but we can maintain control over them and not let them dictate our actions. The Bible tells us –

“I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27)

And –

“Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.” (2 Peter 1:5-7)

So then, a key to living your faith and not just talking about it is to develop the discipline to keep yourself under control such that you think before you act and guide your actions according to your beliefs. I know I have some work to do on that. How about you?

Don’t just say it…Do it!


Who abandoned whom?

November 10, 2020

In today’s post to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed revisits an age-old question – “Does anyone know where the love of God goes when the waves turn the minutes into hours?”  (Gordon Lightfoot, from The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald song) 

The Lightfoot song paid homage to the tragic sinking of the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald in Lake Superior during a storm, but the sentiment of God somehow abandoning us in our times of need is the focus of that line. The real question, in my mind, is who abandoned whom in those times? Does God in fact let us down and leave us hanging out to suffer; or, did we wander away from our faith in God during those times?

It is so much easier to put your trust in faith in God during good times or times when there is no emergency or threat. It feels good to thank God for our good fortune; for being there with us or maybe just protecting us from making a mistake. But what if that mistake happened or we suffered an injury or maybe a loss. Why do we immediately think that God must have abandoned us?

God never promised us a life without setbacks. Indeed, He even said that our lives will be full of event or tests of our faith in Him. He also promised to be there without and not to test us beyond our abilities –

“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2-3)

But, the most important thing that he promises us is the one thing that should give us the greatest comfort during the trials that we may suffer – life after death. After all, most of us might imagine that the worst thing that could happen, the worst outcome of a hardship and the worst possible conclusion to the dilemma that we are in is that it kills us. If we steadfastly cling to our faith, even that outcome is not something to be feared.

It is not God who has abandoned us in times of great duress, but rather us who have wandered away from our faith in God. Therefore, one should not lament, “God why have you forsaken me?”, but rather pray, “God forgive me for my lapse of faith and return to me the trust in you during this difficult time.”

The good news for those who temporarily wander away from their faith during a time of hardship is that God is patient and relentless in His love for us – “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5)

So, who abandoned whom? In answer to Gordon Lightfoot’s question in his song – God’s love didn’t go anywhere. God’s hand is always out to provide us the help that we need. You have but to turn and reach back to Him to receive His grace and help.

Have a great day in God’s hands!


Time to move on to the next game…

November 9, 2020

Pastor freed used this quote in his blog, Jack’s Winning Words, this morning, “Let the healing begin.” (Joe Cocker song)

The same sentiment has been used by President-elect Biden himself and many others since he election was called in Biden’s favor. Certainly, it is important that the healing process take place in America – in our politics, in our rhetoric and in our actions. However, right now, in the minds of far too many people, those words sound like the sanctimonious trash-talk of the victor and not the olive branch that they were probably meant them to be.

Before the healing can begin, the anger in the environment needs to die down. Most times the sentiment on the losing side of any contest/conflict is one of disappointment. The high hopes of persevering to a victory had been dashed; however, if it was perceived as a fair fight, the loser must accept that he was bested that day and move on.

For some this election feels more like a lost football game where the refs made a bad call, or at least the fans think it was a bad call. That feeling was heightened throughout the election campaign by unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud or irregularities. The post-election feeling is most like the reaction to that pass interference call that wasn’t made on the last play of the game, – the play that would have led to victory. A missed call like that most often leads to anger, even if the replay shows it to have been the right call. Usually, in the sports world. by Wednesday of the next week fans have put the last game behind them and focuses upon the next game.

A major difference in this situation, of course, is that we are all in this game. The decisions that were made over the last four years affected us all and the decisions that will be made in the coming four years will affect our lives. Some may say, “Well those last four years under Trump didn’t kill me, so I guess I can survive the next four under Biden”. However, those last four years also contained the COVID-19 virus and many feel that the lack of an adequate National-level response to the pandemic did lead to the deaths of an awful lot of people. The campaign promises of Biden foreshadow a greatly different response to the pandemic – one requiring more sacrifice and discipline than we have yet shown as a nation.

Step one in our collective recovery is probably to admit that many are angry about the election outcome and perhaps more than a little afraid for their future. There is plentiful advice available about dealing with anger, such as

Think before you speak. …

Once you’re calm, express your anger. …

Get some exercise. …

Take a timeout. …

Identify possible solutions. …

Stick with ‘I’ statements (and not “They” statements). …

Use humor to release tension.

All of those things require that one regain control over themselves enough to actually do any of those things. Maybe “Take a timeout” should be at the top of the list.

Once people have curbed their anger a bit, they can move onto dealing with their fears. The advice to identify possible solutions is a great starting point for that. By doing that, you are empowering yourself to become a part of the solution and not to play the role of the victim. Unlike the mythical football game that I used as an example earlier, this “game” called life is never over. That one bad call that you think the refs made is last week’s news and the game goes on.

However, there is a role for everyone in this game, even supporters of opposing viewpoints and solutions. One can get to work supporting candidates for the next election, which for much of the legislative side of government is only two years away. There will be parades to march in again (hopefully next year). There will be local and state-level positions of influence that need to be filled. Of course, there will be tweets and Facebook posts to be made, videos to be uploaded to YouTube and TikTok and  blog posts to be written. These are things that one can be doing, beyond just being angry.

The “healing” that needs to begin is not the abandonment of the opposing views, but rather the reduction of anger and disappointment and finding ways to move on with new actions that one hopes will influence everyone in that direction. It’s sort of like being a loyal football fan of the team that just suffered a big defeat. You move on. You get ready for the next tailgate session and the next game in resolute hope that better days are just ahead.

Perhaps the words from Martin Luther King Jr. that are on a sign in my yard expresses what must be done now – “We must move on with an arduous faith in the future.” Keep the faithit’s Wednesday in America – it’s time to move on. There is a bright future ahead and another game next weekend.


DISCONNECTED…

November 7, 2020

I’ve been trying for some time to put my finger on how to describe the feelings that I have about the current state of things in the world and in my life. The word “disconnected” keeps popping up and I think it is perfect to describe that feeling. The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everyone’s world upside down and for all of us it has led to disconnects. Disconnects from our normal work world. Disconnects from our normal social world. In addition, disconnects from our normal religious world.

Many have been sent home to work, cutting us off from the normal interactions that we have at work and from the sense if identity that comes from those interactions. The normal conference room meetings, hallway conversations and day-to-day job activities in the workplace provide a big part of the framework that we see as our identity. We may still perform most of the same job activities, but doing so over a Zoom link does not bring with it the same since of identity. The fact that we don’t even have to get up and get ready to go to work adds to the loss of identity. Where is that person in the nice suit or business casual outfit and who is this slob still in pajamas at 10 AM in the morning?

As a Realtor and an outside sales person, I have noticed how disconnected I have felt, while I was unable to call on clients in person. Sure, I could still send emails and text messages and make phone calls, but there has been very few face-to-face sales calls. It has become much too easy for regular clients to just back off making their normal buys, when we were not meeting in person. How disconnected have you become from your “normal” work environment?

Socially, not being able to get together or even to go out to eat in a restaurant was certainly disconnecting during the time we were all in the lock-down by State mandates. Even now, eating in a restaurant is not anywhere near the social event that it used to be; plus, we are now advised to not even gather in groups around the Holiday table. The social fabric of our lives has been rendered and we have withdrawn into our nuclear family groups. How disconnected socially has your life become?

On the religious front, my church, like many others, has not met regularly in person since March. My church had one social event this summer (an ice cream social)  and has held two drive-in church services, with mixed results, in terms of attendance. The age of our congregation (probably averages 70+) and the guidance of our Synod Bishop continue to dictate caution and not holding in-person services. I produce and post videos of our church services each week and we have been fortunate to have the continued support of our musical staff to provide music for those services, yet it is not the same. Most of the church related groups – the book club, the knitting club and the women’s group  have continue to meet and that helps keep those bonds intact. The Pastor holds a “coffee hour” via Zoom each Sunday at about the time that services would normally be over and that helps some; but, for many there is a growing sense of disconnect. How has your religious life been impacted by the pandemic?

I think the important thing is to acknowledge these disconnects and to take positive action to overcome them, rather than letting them drag you down into depression. Things are not going to be the same for quite a while, if ever; so we need to adjust to the “new normal” and find ways to reconnect at work, socially and in our religious lives.

Our work life identity may have switched from our office or cubicle to the little box down and to the left on the Zoom screen, but we are still responsible for the important aspect of the business that we were hired for and we need to feel good about dong that job. Maybe it’s time to force ourselves to get up, get showered and put on all of our “work” clothes; even if it is just for a Zoom meeting – no more “waist-up” dressing.

 Maybe it’s time to venture out to a restaurant or to go shopping at the mall (just remember your mask). Maybe you can sit down and call those people that you’ve been missing and have a nice, long conversation with them. I’m sure that they have been feeling lonely, too.

Or, maybe it’s time to watch a church service video and sing along with the music. The video’s that I post on our YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSTzf6Jn_j2iepSePY4yiyw?view_as=subscriber –  have the words posted for each song, so that the viewer can sing along. I invite you to try this week’s service at – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3f4_YVyPz6o&feature=youtu.be

 I won’t tell you that you shouldn’t feel somewhat disconnected, that’s just how things are for a while; however, you can take positive steps to reconnect and to feel more like a part of the new normal. I’d even suggest that you buy a mask with a smiley face on it, just to start some conversations and to give yourself a smile when you look in the mirror or see yourself in your little Zoom box. When someone on the Zoom call asks you, why you are wearing a mask on the Zoom call, tell them that you heard about computer viruses and didn’t want to catch one. That may get a laugh and a conversation started. In fact, this picture from the internet is the perfect virus mask for that.

The key is that you do something about feeling disconnected. Reconnections won’t just happen, you have to make them happen. Get up. Get showered. Get dressed and get reconnected!


What will you build?

November 5, 2020

We live in acrimonious and disturbing times that cry out for a return to the values that many of us grew up with and the lessons that we learned in Sunday School (back when people went to Sunday School instead of out to the playing fields) – humbleness, honesty, integrity and caring for others.

I recently saw a post on Facebook that read something like this – “Those who have success in life should build a bigger table not a bigger wall”.

That saying seemed to me to sum up both the state that we are in and the decisions that we must make going forward. It sums things up by pointing out our choices. We can either share the wealth of our nation and our people with those less fortunate by building a bigger,  more inclusive table for all; or, we can decide to husband what we have been fortunate enough to achieve as a nation and a people by building walls to close ourselves off from the world.

Of course, the table and the wall are just symbols of the political and socio-economic decisions that we must make going forward. Most of us probably try to teach our children to share their toys with playmates or siblings when they are very young. It not only keeps the peace, but it’s the right thing to do. I’m not sure when we stop trying to teach them to share, but somewhere along the line many “learn” how to be selfish or uncaring for others. Maybe they see how we act as adults and take their cues from that behavior. Imagine what the children have learned from the adults around them recently.

Another vexing thing is how many so-called Christians have joined in “build walls” side of things. I can’t find any references to building walls anywhere in the words of Jesus, but there are many about sharing and caring for others. Jesus would have chosen to build a bigger table and not a bigger wall. In fact he instructed his Disciples  his last meeting at the table to go out and share with all.

So, what will you build? We all have some success in life, even if just being alive is all that we can think of at the moment. Give of yourself. Choose to share your life and time with others and not to wall yourself off. Build a bigger table, not a bigger wall.