You cannot ignore the truth…

August 24, 2022

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.


Lead with your heart…your head will catch up

February 20, 2019

A recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog contained this bit of advice –

“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.”  (Donald Laird)

It is always good advice to use your head to maintain control of yourself, especially before you do things that you might regret, like speaking when listening is what is best. We tend to associate things like logic and intelligence with the head, while the heart isvisualization associated with empathy and emotions. Where things like prejudices and hate come from is a mystery, since they defy real logic and certainly don’t express empathy. They are perhaps closer to emotions that are based upon imagined fears.  Those feelings live in a dark place in our heads and had to be put there by someone, since they are not innate within people. Fears and prejudices cause us to avoid or hate the things or people associated with them for no logical reason.

The first step to overcoming one’s fears and prejudices is to use your head to acknowledge that you have them; then let your heart take over to deal with them in the predjuicesspecific instance that you are facing. We tend to hate or fear people in large, blurry groups that we classify as “they” or “them”. It is somehow easier to lump large numbers of people into those prejudiced categories in those dark places in our minds. We think that “all” of a certain type of people present a danger to us; and thus, are to be avoided.  We immediately think that everyone who displays certain characteristics of appearance or behavior is one of “them” and by association inherits all of the other characteristics that we have loaded on that group in our minds.

When circumstances bring us face to face with someone from one of our feared/prejudice groups the outcome is most often very different than we initially image.handshake We discover the individual, rather than the group. Our heart takes over and allows us to see the fellow human being that is there, rather than the group characteristics that the prejudices in our head may initially associate with them.  That pause allows the head to kick in again and to begin having an intelligent interaction with the person, rather than one driven by fears.

Perhaps the best advice is that in the headline for today’s post. Lead with your heart when dealing with others. Let’s your heart’s natural instinct for empathy and listenfriendliness initiate the encounters that you have with others during the day. Let your heart tell you when it’s best to just listen and commiserate, rather than letting your brain start running your mouth. Your brain may come up with all sorts of things to say that it thinks will be interesting, but your heart will tell you that what the other person may need  right now is someone to just listen.

So, resolve to lead with your heart today. Give everyone you encounter the benefit of the doubt, rather than automatically categorizing them into some prejudice group based upon their appearance. Start off with the attitude that this person you just met is this-is-mesomeone who may become a friend, rather than someone to be feared and avoided.  Lead with your heart. Don’t worry, your head will catch up.


Be that small thing in someone’s heart today…

October 17, 2016

From a recent post on the Jack’s Winning Ways blog come s this little gem –

“Sometimes, said Pooh, the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”  (A.A. Milne)

Maybe it is just a smile or a quick gesture, or perhaps it is an act of kindness or a display ofhandshake affection. Often these are subtle, not grandiose, things that constitute a connection based upon live or concern and caring. You have hundreds of opportunities every day to do something or say something that takes up residence in someone else’s heart. The great thing is that you also get a small piece of that good feeling in your heart, too.

We live in a fast-paced world where taking that moment to open a door for someone or smile and let someone else go first is too often brushed aside and a waste of time or effort. looking-at-phoneThese days we may not even notice many of the opportunities, because we are “busy” looking down at our smartphones. We have become self-absorbed and self-centered to an extent that we are often by ourselves, even in a crowded room. It’s not that there isn’t room in our hearts for new things, large or small; it’s more that we aren’t paying enough attention to allow them in.

Perhaps, instead of hunting for Pokémon characters as we wander around the streets, we should instead seek out around us who could use a smile or a kind word or deed. Instead of being a Pokémon Trainer and battling against fictional characters we could become smile givers and see how many hearts we can reside in on any given day. Maybe we need an App to keep track of that.

One thing we don’t need an App for is living is such a way that we bring smiles to the faces of others. What we may need to focus upon is peeling away some of the layers of cynicism that we have developed as we grew and aged. One has only to observe small children playing together to see what the world could be like if we were not directed by learned prejudices and pre-conceptions of others. Children don’t see the differences in race or different peoplebeliefs as obstacles to just having fun playing with another human being. They just play. As adults we let all of our “knowledge” about the world – what we’ve been “taught” by others – get in the way, most of the time before the first word is even spoken. No wonder we have forgotten how to live together, much less to play together.

Maybe today, before you start out on your day, you can ask for God’s help to make you that person who brings a smile to someone else’s face and gets a place in their heart. It may help if you can start each day with this little passage from the Bible –

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32

Maybe you can ask God to make you blind – blind to the other person’s color or ethnicity being kind 1or life preferences – and open your mind’s eye, so that you can just “see” the person that is there in need of a kind word or gesture. Maybe He can help you overcome your preconceived notions and prejudices long enough for you to discover the kindred spirit of a fellow human being with needs and fears and beliefs that are shared with all others, including you. Maybe that will allow you to act and become that small something that they carry in their heart the rest of the day. You may also discover that they have taken up residence in your heart, too.

Make a difference – Be that small thing in someone’s heart today…