How are things turning out for you?

February 24, 2022

Life is a continuous process of discovery and our reactions to those discoveries. A quote from legendary basketball coach, John Wooden seems to be the most appropriate way to react to the twists and turns of life.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.”

Railing against things that have already happened or denying them is a gigantic waste of time and changes nothing. Rather, spending your time internalizing recent events and making necessary corrections in your life to move forward seems a much better course of action.

In today’s post to his Blog, Jack’s Winning Words, Pastor Freed used this quote from Jane Goodall –

“Lasting change is a series of compromises.  And compromise is all right, as long as your values don’t change.”

So perhaps we could combine the two thoughts and surmise that things work out best for those who are able to compromise and go on with life. But, what about that “values” part of Goodall’s quote. What if it is your “values” for which you need to seek compromise?

There is no generally applicable set of universal values or core beliefs in almost any society today. That is because most modern societies are not made up of people all from the same ethnic, religious or geopolitical backgrounds. The diversity of the population that brings strength to modern societies also dilutes the “values” of any one group. This results in the need for compromise even in the values upon which judgements are being made. If in no other way, it forces us to consider that someone else may have a completely different point of view on what is right and wrong in any given situation, based upon a different set of core values.

At the root of many of today’s seemingly intractable issues, such as LBGTQI rights, abortion and the role of government in our lives are differing sets of values which make compromise seem difficult. When you spend time trying to think about issues like that, you may quickly arrive at the correct conclusion that how you act or react to those issues is your decision and your decision alone. What “everybody knows” or “everyone says” has no real bearing. It is your personal responsibility to decide how you will act or react to the situation. That forces you to examine what you think are your “core values”.

If you are honest with yourself in that evaluation of your values, you may realize that there is not a value at the core of some of your actions/reactions at all; but, rather, that fear is the driving force in your decisions. Even ignorance in any situation leads to fear of the unknown as the driver for reactions.

The step after becoming more aware of what values (if any) are controlling your action is to examine whether compromise may be needed. That is really the reaction that Wooden was alluding to in his quote – making the best of how things turned out. Every fear-driven, knee-jerk reaction is just a “jerk” reaction. You need to stop and think before acting or reacting.

Maybe if you stop and at least think, “I have the power to control how I react to this”, it will force a better response. At a minimum, you will have avoided a knee-jerk reaction and at best you will react based upon your values rather than your fears. If it still doesn’t turn out for you, maybe then is the time to reexamine your “values” and perhaps seek a compromise.

How are things tuning out for you? Who decides? Perhaps one last quote will put you in the right frame of mind to answer that question –

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.” (Alice Walker)

You have the power to decide how things turn out for you. Use your power.

Use your powers today…

April 24, 2019

From a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this quote – “Kindness is within our power even when fondness is not.”  (Henry James)

As I thought about that quote, and contemplated writing something about it; other, similar thoughts came to mind –

Compassion is within our power even when sharing is not

Forgiving is within our power even when forgetting is not

Believing is within our power even when understanding is not

The point of all of this is that we have it within our power to deal with the events and circumstances that life presents even if we cannot change them. The key is being able to accept that we cannot change them and moving on by dealing with life as it is and not as we would like it to be.

I’ve posted here in the past about the amazing stories that have come out of some of the most terrible hate crimes of recent times. I recall one in particular which involved a mass killing in a church. Sometime later, several survivors of that atrocity were interviewed and shared that they had forgiven the shooter and were now praying for his forgivesoul. They will never forget, but they had forgiven.

Perhaps the issue for most of us is focusing too much on the part that comes after the “even when” in those sentences. It takes a conscious effort to be kind to someone that we may not “like” or of whom we may not be fond. Having compassion for the plight of someone is possible, even if we cannot imagine or share their situation. It is especially hard to move on to forgiving someone who has wronged us in some way when we cannot get the act out of our minds and forget it.

For many, the final saying above is the hardest because they cannot let go of the need to understand everything and just believe. Yet, at the very core of faith is believing. It is the surrender of the need to understand that frees us to accept God and have faith. Thatwoman-praying need to understand is man’s ego coming out and the need to try to control things. Faith is admitting that we are not in control and putting our trust in the one who is – God. Faith starts with the little prayer “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Start by believing even when you don’t understand. I think you’ll find that the rest of those things that are within your power – kindness, compassion, forgiveness and more – will come more naturally. Use your powers today.

believeIt’s going to be a great day.