Friday, May 27, 2011

Not Sticks and Stones

Yikes, there has been a lot of public name-calling lately; NBA sidelines, talk radio, and congested roads near you. We know name-calling in general is easy when you're angry, frustrated, thoughtless, and inarticulate. It's wrong when motivated by hate or power over the weak, when it is a lie or makes something sacred, profane. What we may not know is that well-intentioned efforts to rid our world of name-calling through huge fines on professional athletes and loss of jobs for public speakers, may inadvertently be shutting down important discussions and undermining personal strength.

Christ Himself called out some pharisees:
Knowing their malice, Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? Matthew 22:18
and he called out Peter:
"Get behind me, Satan. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do." Mark 8:33
We need to be able to discuss that there are hypocrites and evil. We need names that capture a thousand words in one word and to look at each for the truth or falsehood it represents. When Mr. BMW aggressively doesn't merge properly onto the highway, putting me in danger, at that moment he is a selfish fool.

We need to see ourselves as strong and resilient. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" is more truthful and helpful than "Name-calling is crushing under all circumstances." Being thick-skinned is a desirable and practical trait to foster. The stronger we become, the more we are able to defend truth and those who are truly unable to defend themselves.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The End is Near?

Another doomsday has come and gone. We're still here. What to make of this?
But of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone...So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.
Matthew 24:36, 44
Anyone who identifies and plans for a specific doomsday of this sort is mega-prepared, but foolish. He has no authority to make such a claim and has no credibility when proven wrong. He misleads the vulnerable, instilling fear or false expectations.

Anyone who mocks the doomsayers is proven right, but foolish. He minimizes the reality of an end time and misses the opportunity to reflect on what is most important in life. He sucker punches those who do.

We're fortunate to know we need to be ready for an unknown end time. We also behave foolishly sometimes. Hopefully, when the next doomsday is announced, we will reflect on our preparedness, be kind to those having a foolish moment, and have a peaceful day.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Take a Great Break

You've finished strong and now you have down time.  There is a great temptation to swing between a frenzy of doing all the fun stuff you missed while you worked hard and a slug-fest of inactivity.  A little of this all-or-nothing can be absorbed but when this coexistence of extremes fails to bring steady happiness, consider that breaks are great for: 

Getting extra rest, eating decent meals, and getting back to fitness plans.

Getting together with family and friends who you miss.

Organizing your room, home, stuff.

Giving back to those in need and those who give to you.

Reading, writing, and thinking more deeply about God.
He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while." People were coming and going in great numbers, and they had no opportunity even to eat. So they went off in the boat by themselves to a deserted place. Mark 6:31,32
Once you finish something tiring, hard, and structured, it's understandable to crave rest, ease, and sleep in, stay up late, and go as you please in between. But extended sloth will undermine your body, character, and future hopes.  The same discipline and structure that helped you to do well, can also help you to have a great break that is refueling, engaging, uplifting, refreshing, purposeful, regrouping, and fun.  You've earned it, kid.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Love Notes from Francis

Thoughts about love....

"You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working, and just so, you learn to love by loving. All those who think to learn in any other way deceive themselves."

"Those who love to be feared, fear to be loved."

"It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially. "

"We must fear God out of love, not love Him out of fear."

"Perfection of life is the perfection of love. For love is the life of the soul."

...from St. Francis de Sales, 1567 - 1622.


Friday, May 13, 2011

Like Derrick Rose

Mother's Day is a pretty sweet holiday set aside to remind us to say, "Thanks, Mom, I love you" and to have a bright, light, celebration.

Yet, one of the sweetest love-my-mom moments I've ever witnessed, didn't happen on Mother's Day. It wasn't bright and light, but rather, it was deep, tender, and intimate, in spite of the fact that millions were watching. It happened when Derrick Rose accepted the National Basketball Association 2011 Most Valuable Player Award:

We moms don't expect or want a big show for doing our mothering work. But I can't deny that whenever you tell me you are grateful for my efforts and that you love me, my heart fills and overflows with pride and love. Just like Derrick's mom.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Not All That Special

It is right and truthful to tell every little child that he or she is special.  Each is special in relationship to loved ones and based on God making each one-of-a-kind.  A child's potential is untested and wide open.  Once a foundation of unconditional love is set, growing children and teens benefit from being challenged and supported to learn that being an adult also includes accepting that most of us aren't all that special.

Not being all that special is a relief.  There's less pressure and scrutiny when we accept that there is always someone smarter, more athletic, kinder, more popular, cuter, more handsome, funnier, more spiritual, better dressed, more achieving, etc.  Not being all that special puts things into perspective.  Not everyone can be President of the United States but God has a perfect plan for each one of us.  Not being all that special encourages being humble and kind.  If we think we're too special, we will look down on others and miss opportunities to improve.

"You are special" rings shallow, naive, and disrespectful if discussion stops there.  You want to actually be special because you love God and treat others with respect.  You own and handle your short-comings and are striving to fulfill your potential.  Then you become special, in a more adult-like way, because you don't need to be all that special.   


Friday, May 6, 2011

Landing the Job

I couldn't be more proud of you!  You did it!  You got the job!

Getting a job is concrete proof that you have done some things right in the past and you have potential to learn and do more things right in the future.  Someone gave you the job because he or she thinks you have the skills to do the job and meet the needs of the company, group, or team.  He or she thinks that you have good character, that you will show up on time, work hard, and finish what you start.   He or she thinks that you are likeable and good company.

Think about what got you to this point.  You didn't get some jobs but you kept applying and interviewing.  You faced rejection but you kept confident and didn't take rejection too personally.  You were humble, asked for feedback, and learned what you had to do better, how to improve, and what to expect.  You did lesser jobs well and suffered through rotten jobs, trusting that somehow they would help you to prove yourself in the future. 

There is little in life that is as sweet as landing a well-earned job!  Enjoy this moment and make the most of this opportunity! 


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finish Strong

Coming to the close of this year's academic and sports season, let's finish strong! How?
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.  2 Timothy 4:7
Compete well. Being able to say, "I did my very best," brings personal satisfaction and helps to avoid regrets. Show up, work hard, avoid shady shortcuts, and be courteous to others.

Finish the race. Finish the test, the class, the practice, the game. Finish the quarter, the semester, the season, the year. By finishing, you are automatically ahead of those who quit out of weakness or from tragedy.

Keep the faith. Everyone faces tragedy, falling, injury, slumps, failing. If you see failure as a type of test, a test of character and faith, this too becomes a race to finish strong. Be humble. Figure out what didn't work and fix it. Grieve. Heal. Regroup. Cooperate.  Ready yourself for the next opportunity. Pray.

Life is made up of races, sprints and marathons, intertwined. Practicing the hard work of finishing strong now, will help you to grow strong and know what it takes to finish strong in the future.

I'm here on the sidelines, ringing the COWBELL, whistling, and cheering you on to the finish line!