Reality Reflection: Judgments and Honesty

I’m a big fan of what I thought to be a growing trend of people who are doing business and living honestly, and with the best interests of everyone at heart.  But, the truth is that there are quite a few who aren’t on the bandwagon yet.

Bill Hybels said, “What’s further saddening to me is the growing trend, specifically in the United States culture, to throw stones first and ask questions later.”

Why should you throw stones first?  Actually, why throw stones at all?  When you throw a stone you are most likely to break something.  Maybe you break a window, maybe it’s a finger, or maybe it’s a broken heart.

In this world of preferences, options, opportunities, varieties, differences, variations, and changes, the likelihood that you jumped to an incorrect conclusion before you threw that stone is a very high one.

I would much rather ask questions and get to know you, than jump to a judgment that is completely off base.  Is it easy to not jump to conclusions? No, we’re a jumpy society.  It takes a lot of work to suspend your judgment of someone or something.

My question for you today is what good does throwing stones do?  Does it actually feel good to sling nasty things at your “competition”? Do you feel good seeing the pissed or crushed look on someone when you immediately sweep them under the rug without giving them the time to explain or clarify?

So before you leave your house this week, make sure you’ve got your keys, wallet, computer, cell phone and any other necessarys, and leave your snap judgments behind your locked and closed door.

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Reality Reflection: Why me?

In thinking about Mother’s Day tomorrow, the topics of self worth and self confidence came up.  Some days we’re really confident in who we are and what we can do, but other days it seems like we can do nothing right and nothing is going our way and there doesn’t seem to be a victory or end in sight.  Are we struggling because we have doubts or are we struggling because we’re not open to the good stuff?

When we do seem to be making progress we wonder why it’s so easy. We wonder at the good things that come our way, as well as the bad things. Why is it hard for us to accept the good as well as the bad?  Why don’t we trust in, appreciate or accept the good stuff when it comes our way?

Yes, we’ve been burned by offers that promise the moon and don’t even leave the ground. We’ve been hurt by people we trust. But when it’s not life or death that we’re being offered, but a simple kindness, why do we still struggle to accept or refuse?

Unfortunately, a lot of it has to do with how we’ve been treated and how we view ourselves. Self esteem issues are rampant in our society, even those of us who have no reason whatsoever to have issues do. It’s unfortunately like walking past a smoker: you can catch it without even trying. Maybe you haven’t done anything to be worthy of the kindness of another, maybe God just chooses to bestow it on you.

This week instead of just dismissing the good stuff that comes your way, or ignoring it and pretending it didn’t approach you, I encourage you to open your arms to it and be thankful for it. When you focus on the good stuff, it’s been shown that more good stuff comes your way. What good things will fill your life when you open up to them?

Reality Reflection: Your Best Self

Every day different things get thrown at us. We have to work on navigating complex and often frustrating situations, deal with unexpected problems or challenges, make snap decisions on potential opportunities that come our way, work with interpersonal challenges, and try to fit everything into the limited time we have each day like cleaning the house, taking out the garbage and doing the laundry. But one of the biggest choices we have to make each day is who we’re going to be. I suggest that each day you choose to be the best version of yourself.

Why? Because choosing to be your best will give you a leg up in life. Being your best means that you’ll make decisions that will help you, you’ll feel more confident as you face life’s challenges and opportunities, and life will look a whole lot brighter and better. It will also help you have better and healthier relationships and interactions with others, which will help you and it will make other people like you more. No, I’m not suggesting that the goal in life is to make other people like you or to be a pushover, but rather that life is a whole lot more pleasant and easier if people like you than if you’re constantly fighting with them, being inconsiderate, or putting them down.

Does it take courage to be the best version of yourself? Sometimes, yes. Other times it takes determination and conviction when it would be so much easier to take the low road when you’re having a bad day.  But choosing to be your best self means believing in yourself, believing that you’re a capable, caring and qualified human who may not be perfect but certainly does their best to live their life in a way that they are proud of.  I don’t know about you but I’d much rather get to the end of the day knowing I did my best rather than get there and feel like a failure.  Will you join me in choosing to be your best today?

A Life of Mindfulness

One of the things I enjoy about Lent is how it encourages us to really be mindful about our lives and what goes on in them, where we go, what we say, how we live, the choices we make. People talk about the importance of taking time to meditate, and I certainly believe that quiet time can help you work thoughts or problems out or just help to find a little peace in all the chaos of life today. But some people struggle to find time to meditate and some struggle with the concept of sitting and being still and quiet. Which is where being mindful comes in.

Being mindful means that you’re attentive and aware according to the dictionary. Mindfulness is an opportunity for anyone to be more present in the moment, to be more conscious about what’s going on around them and what they’re doing and how they’re treating others, to think more before speaking or acting, and to be more appreciative both to the universe/God and others.

While most of us have (many) more tomorrows in front of us all we’re promised is the moment we’re living now. Being mindful can help you enjoy today and all yoru days more thoroughly, to make better decisions that will serve you both presently and in the future, to invest in the relationships that add the most value to your life, and make decisions that will positively impact the people and world around you. It can also help you be more even tempered and more at peace even with the chaos of the world and all the commitments we take on.

If “right now counts forever” as Dr. R.C. Sproul said, what are you doing with your right now? Is it something that you want to look back on forever? Will it help you build a better tomorrow? Are you working for more peace in your life and the world? What are you doing with your day today?

The Highway of Life

The other day I was driving down a 3 lane highway and had multiple cars come up quickly behind me in the middle lane and stay behind me. I was driving a little above the speed limit similar to other cars on the road, and while there were other cars on the road there weren’t so many that they couldn’t easily move to another lanes. You’ve probably experienced this, right? That there just doesn’t really seem to be a good reason for someone to be that close to the back of your car, not moving into another available lane, not to mention the drivers who consistently weave fast through several lanes of traffic.

Having this happen several times throughout a course of several days got me thinking about how we live our lives. We could talk about the issue some people have of rushing and never being on time for things. We could talk about how fast-paced life is and how much faster some people try to live it. We could talk about the inconsiderate nature of people expecting others to just get out of their way. Today what I wanted to talk about is in line with that last one, it’s about having multiple lanes in the highway of life.

I believe that there’s almost always more than one way to get things done, to get to a destination, to become successful, to improve yourself, or to work through an issue, with the most obvious exception being that of salvation through Jesus (that’s a one-way street). I believe that we should always have a ‘plan b’ and an alternative plan or direction if things don’t go as expected (and sometimes a ‘plan c’ and ‘plan d’). I don’t believe it’s smart to rely on one source of income unless you’re in an absolutely recession proof career. I believe you can be committed to just one partner (one marriage) as long as you are both on the same page about being committed to really working things through, tackling necessary changes, talking often, and working together.

With as many resources and options as are available to us, there’s no reason for us to force others to live our way or get in line with how we do things, nor should we expect them to. We also should not feel cornered or stuck in one option and not, at the very least, be aware of the options. Our life journeys can be full and rich, or they can be filled with frustration because we tried to do things one way and only one way when the fact of the matter is life is changing at a very rapid pace that doesn’t allow us to live in the past.

I would encourage you to take a minute and consider if you’re living life trying to force others into your way of living, if you’re feeling restricted by your current life path or if you’re trying to get things done in a way that isn’t truly productive. If any of those are true, I would encourage you to look into options and start opening up your mind to alternatives that are healthier and more satisfying for you and others.

Still Here Living

Everyone struggles at some point in time in their lives. Every people group experiences struggles, whether with religious or cultural persecution, judgments based on actions that some don’t agree with, or judgments based on their beliefs, skin color, sex or who their parents are, just to name a few. One of the groups that has been given a gift even through their struggles is the African American community. Each year schools and communities take time during the month of February to talk about Black History Month and profile some of the African American men and women who have done some amazing things throughout history, both past and more recent. Yes, you could be frustrated that we feel the need to recognize African Americans and especially highlight the challenges they’ve faced, but there’s another way to look at it, and that’s to see the honor that’s being bestowed.

In past years I’ve highlighted some of the African American men and women who have lived and died, and shared some of their wisdom with you. I don’t think the color of skin has an impact on how smart someone is, what they’re capable of doing or the impact they can have on our future. As I mentioned already there are countless reasons why people are persecuted or judged, and many are absolutely inconsequential to how amazing they are. In fact, some of the people who have struggled greatly are those that we remember most and can directly connect some amazing innovations and discoveries to them. There are many people who could have chosen to give up or not try to share their gift with the world, but they chose to persevere through.

This month I would encourage you to not only celebrate the African American community’s contributions to making the world we live in a better, richer, more diverse place, but also to recognize that there’s more to life than the struggle, that it’s worth pushing through the struggle to what is beyond. Life is worth living, it’s up to you what you make of life though.

“…So since I’m still here livin’,
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve died for love—
But for livin’ I was born…”

Langston Hughes

Legacies and Stories

So what’s your story?  We each have a story, it involves the places we’ve been, the people we’ve met, the people who have impacted our lives even if we’ve never met, the things we’ve gone through, the choices we’ve made and the things that have happened in the world that have impacted us.  Each person’s story is different even if we’ve lived in the same place or experienced the same things, we’re all different and react differently to different things.

But the interesting thing about stories can be found in that which we most often think about when we talk about stories: books.  Sometimes the story we tell ourselves about an event or place is complete fiction.  Maybe that’s because we’ve only experienced a small portion of the full story, maybe that’s because we don’t have all the facts, or maybe it’s because we have an overactive imagination. It’s one reason that it’s important to check your facts, gut reactions and find out as much of the story as you can before you write your story.

Your story has a beginning, middle and end.  Most of us are in the middle right now, we hope we’re not too close to the end, we have more living we want to do.  So if you find that the story you’ve been writing in your life isn’t the one that you want to finish or isn’t going the way you want it to, know that you have the ability to change the direction of the story.  You can tell a new story, or make your story all you hope it will be.  Make that choice today.

“Humanity’s legacy of stories and storytelling is the most precious we have. All wisdom is in our stories and songs. A story is how we construct our experiences. At the very simplest, it can be: ‘He/she was born, lived, died.’ Probably that is the template of our stories – a beginning, middle, and end. This structure is in our minds.”  Doris Lessing