Reality Reflection: Whose Responsibility is it?

I think that at our heart most of us want to help others and make the world a better place. Sure, we look out for our own interests and we occasionally completely miss what’s going on around us (and cause issues for others), but I feel like if we were given a choice that was win-win, we’d agree to it more often than not. Then you’ve got some people who are people-pleasers. They’re people who go out of their way to try to make others happy, almost always without thought to their own happiness. Then you’ve got the helpers, they’re the people who try to help others even when/if they’re not willing to help themselves. It’s this last one that I got to thinking about today.

I think with our win-win hearts we can often give people the motivation or encouragement, and certainly provide them with the opportunity to step up to the plate and do something good/better for their lives. That’s one of the best ways that we can help each other. It goes in line with the ‘teach a man to fish’ quote. For those of us who have that heart it’s tough to see people who aren’t willing to take that hand and get the help they need.

While there’s not set time on how long you should try to help someone, at some point you may have to step back and just let the cards fall where they may. Your job is to be responsible for your life and the lives of anyone who is physically dependent on you (a child, elderly individual or individual with special needs). It’s not your job to be responsible for the whole world. It’s a tough and disheartening lesson to learn.

Even when you decide to take a step back (or another one), that doesn’t mean you have to give up hope, it just means that you’re not going to step up either when the other person won’t.  There’s nothing wrong with helping others, in fact it’s essential to all of us thriving in this world.  But you can’t force people to change or become someone or do something they’re ultimately not willing (or don’t care enough) to do.  Do you need to take a step back today?

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Exploring the Heart of Nature

I was recently reminded of a poem and thought I would share it with you today. It’s by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

“I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend.”

For me this poem speaks to connection. It talks about our connection with the world and nature as well as how small of a part we have in that world. It encourages us to reconnect with the world that we live in: the ground that we walk and build and drive on, the trees and plants that shelter and feed us, and the quiet but true way that nature grows and changes over the years. It also reminds us of what people used to know, that nature is and should be our friend and we should enjoy connecting with it.

When was the last time you really spent time in nature? Maybe you will observe nature explode over the next few weeks from the allergy-free zones of your house or car, but I would encourage you to find time in the next short while to work on reconnecting with nature. People who spend time in nature often have naturally healthier immune systems, lower stress and feel better about themselves and life.  Getting out in nature is also a great way to connect with your neighbors, learn more about your community and meet new people (and dogs!).  What part of nature will you explore this spring?

The Party Before The Win

Today I have more of a question to think over with you than the usual reflections. I’m thinking about the fact that the celebration of Palm Sunday (which is happening this coming Sunday) comes before the sobering events of Good Friday which are followed by the celebration of Easter. How often do we celebrate before the sad event and after it? Why did it happen this way?

Let’s start with a bit of context and a timeline so we’re all on the same page. After being on earth for some 30 years, and doing public ministry for 3 years Jesus’ time on earth is wrapping up. In the Bible Palm Sunday (also known as the Triumphant Entry) happens less than a week before the Last Supper (the time of celebrating the Passover and the initial event of the Lord’s Supper) which comes right before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, which comes 3 days before His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. During Palm Sunday there was a large crowd that gathered and shouted “Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord” while they spread garments and leafy branches on the road for the donkey to walk on that Jesus was riding on. Then a week or so later we get to Easter on which a few women find the tomb Jesus had been buried in empty, they have a brief encounter with Jesus and then they tell the apostles what had happened (Jesus eventually appears to them and others before going back to heaven some 40 days later).

So back to the question: why this big Palm Sunday celebration? It almost feels like you’re celebrating the winner of the big sports event of the year before the event is played. Maybe because God knew how much cover-up from the government there would be after the stone had been rolled away from the tomb, so there couldn’t be as public an event. Maybe because Easter was meant to be a more holy celebration and not a party. Maybe because Palm Sunday was for everyone but Easter is only for those who believe. Maybe because God enjoys a good celebration as much as we do and saw an opportunity to reveal (and celebrate) the truth. Maybe it was to just give Jesus the proper recognition of who He was.

I invite you to share your thoughts on the party before the party, and to remember to celebrate the King this Palm Sunday.

Let’s Make Decisions

One of the most important skills we can work on are our decision making skills. One of the worst things you can do is actively choose not to make a decision, because then the decision is taken out of your hands. Which is fine if you’re OK with any decision that follows, but in most cases we really have a preference on what happens and how things develop (or which way you don’t want things to go).

In the Lent devotionals I’ve been reading they’ve been sharing some different stories from the Bible of both Jesus and others making decisions. From Adam and Eve to the prodigal son, to Jesus walking on water, speaking to the woman at the well, to the days and hours leading up to His death on the cross, there are people who make decisions in every chapter. Sometimes those decisions are good, other times they’re clearly influenced by someone or something else, and sometimes you can see that they’re wishing they could pass the decision on to someone else (or had a larger number of options they could pick from).

When you start to work on your decision making skills and you actively make more decisions, yes, you’ll make some not so great decisions. Just like many other things, it takes practice to get good at making decisions, and you’ll never always get it right, although you’ll get more right than not. But using the knowledge and experience you have as well as letting common sense, instinct and your gut help guide you, with a little courage of course, you should be able to face most situations and decisions successfully.

I think the thing to remember is that over the years some people have screwed up on their decision making in some rather serious ways and yes, some people have died as a result, but the vast majority of people are able to recover from even some epically large poor decisions. You’re never out until you’re dead, so as long as you’re still here and breathing you’ve got the time to fix your mistakes and make better decisions.

When you’re making the decisions, you’re in control of your life, and that means that even when life seems to be going out of control or you’re limited as to how much control you have, those decisions are what give you back at least some of your power. What decisions will you make today?

Welcoming In Spring Changes

Today it was windy. It was one of those days where you don’t plan a hair style and you certainly don’t wear a hat or scarf because it would be four towns over before you could even think about trying to catch it. I know there’s the old saying about March how it can “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb” or “come in like a lamb and go out like a lion,” while the saying for April is supposed to be “April showers bring May flowers.” So while I’m glad it was a sunny day, it made me think of these sayings as well as one that fit better: the winds of change are coming.

I think we’re at the right time of year to really embrace change. Yes, there are different periods of time during the year that we talk about change more, and one of them is in the spring time with all the exciting new life around us. With this new month we’re also entering the second quarter of 2019, if you can believe the year is moving ahead that quickly. So now is a great time to not only be open to but also excited about changes that could be happening in your life.

Change happens for many different reasons, sometimes because we really encourage it to move forward, other times because we’ve taken actions that have put changes in motion, other times because the world around us is changing and growing, and sometimes there’s no real direction from change other than to see that it’s happening. I’ve been doing some planning and working ahead in anticipation of some things I already know are coming up this month and I’m open to change happening, so we’ll see if that brings along positive changes and improvements.

What about you? Could you use some ‘winds of change’ in your life, relationship or career?

Kindness for April

Yesterday was one of my least favorite holidays of the year: April Fool’s Day. I have no problem with having fun in life and having fun with each other, but to play pranks on others and tell half truths or lies to people is just cruel on top of all that the world throws at you. I did hear one person’s rules on it for their kid that I could almost get behind and that was there could be no permanent damage, personal injury or cruelty in any of their pranks. That almost makes it OK but I’m still not a fan.

The past few days in my Lent and other devotionals there’s been a lot of talk of the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15). Luke 15 also shares the story of a lost coin and a lost sheep. These devotionals reminded me of how much we can lose in life, from the seemingly small to the life-altering and how that loss affects each of us differently. Some may not have felt so strongly about a lost coin or sheep as the people in Luke 15 did, but to these people those individual coins and sheep were important.

We can screw up our lives on our own without help from anyone else. We rely on the honesty, predictability, and reliability of other people and businesses to run our lives as easily and peacefully as possible and with the least amount of stress. So when we’re faced with something like April Fool’s that gives the not-so-nice people of the world leave to play jokes (regardless of how many ‘just kidding’s’ that are said or sent with the joke), it almost makes me want to stay in bed all day and pretend the world doesn’t exist.

Unfortunately, I think we’re a lot closer to getting rid of the time change than we are of April Fool’s Day (I’d like to get rid of both). So my suggestion to help with the darkness, bad energy and bad karma that was added to the world yesterday, is that we all share a little more kindness and compassion with the world for the rest of the week. We should always have it in our minds and actions to be helpful and considerate to others, but with how yesterday may have gone for some people I think it’s more important than ever.