Thursday, September 29, 2011

Be Your(best)self

"Just be yourself."  I hear this advice given via media and passing conversation, especially among teens.  I'm not quite sure what it means.

Looking at it from one point of view, it might mean, "I really love you and think you are great.  Don't get discouraged by those who are trying to cut you down.  You do so many wonderful things that only you can do in your special way.  You don't need to change to fit some arbitrary standard."  This is sweet, reassuring, and hopefully true.

Looking at it from another point of view, it might mean, "Do whatever you want to do."  This is wrong advice when speaking about serious matters, no matter what.

If I ever advised someone to "Just be yourself," it was a long, long, time ago.  Now I would be more clear.  I would say, "Just be your best self.  God made you one-of-a-kind and has important plans for you.  Be sure to share your time and talents well.  Know right from wrong and keep striving for what is good."


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Think About These Things

With many conflicting, confusing, and contradictory messages to sift through, I find the following passage to be helpful, practical, and reassuring:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  Philippians 4:8
Truth.  Honor.  Justice.  Purity.  Loveliness.  Graciousness.  Excellence.  Worthiness.

These things.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Are You Serious?

I wonder if teens and young adults feel compelled to tease, joke, and goof around so much as a way to balance out the discouraged, disheartened, and uptight adults they encounter.  I'm an adult who needs to be serious about my responsibilities but I shouldn't use this as an excuse to be anxious, negative, or grim.

Thank you for teasing me (just enough) about my old, dull eyeglasses to help me loosen up and get a cute pair.

Thank you for joking (just enough) about my shortcomings and mothering missteps to show you love me even when I fail.

And thanks for goofing around with me, the family, friends, and others.  You lighten our loads and fill our space with laughter.

The next time you ask me, "Are you serious?"  I'll likely reply, "Yes.  Finish your homework."  But I'm less discouraged, disheartened, and uptight because of you :) .


Monday, September 19, 2011

It Was Me

A common answer to "Who did it?" is "It wasn't me." But was it?

If you tend to be talkative, outgoing, or powerful, have you ever demanded others to do wrong? "Hey, Joe, go trip that kid."  Or have you ever provoked someone?  "Go ahead, just try and hit me."   Have you ever participated in wrong? "Ya, let's skip school." Or have you defended something that is wrong, as if it is right?

If you tend to be quiet, introverted, or influential, have you advised someone to do wrong? "Just tell your dad you're going with me." Have you ever gone along with others because you couldn't say no?  Have you praised someone doing wrong. "You're so cool."  Have you hidden the wrong of others when it involved big harm or big damage?

It is easy to be, intentionally or not, an accessory to another's wrong.  You may not have done the wrong, technically, but in a way, "It was me."


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Tell and Not Tell

I hate tattling.  When you and your siblings were little, I helped you to not tattle by teaching a few rules that apply to young (and old) adults, too.

1.  Big harm.  If your 4 year old brother is about to jump off the patio roof expecting to fly in his Spiderman pajamas - TELL (an adult) because he could get badly hurt.

2.  Big damage.  If your 6 year old brother is lighting a plastic cup on fire in the garage - TELL (an adult) because fire spreads quickly and could burn down the house.

3.  Concerned.  If there is no immediate harm or damage but you are concerned - TELL the person involved.  "I'm concerned about you.  This could really hurt you or someone else, or cause costly damage.  Please stop and go tell (an adult who can help.)  Or I will."

4.  Trying to get someone in trouble.  If there is no immediate or pending big harm or damage - DON'T TELL because that is tattling, trying to make yourself look good or build yourself up at another's expense.

Drunk driving? TELL (someone who can help) because there is a big risk of physical injury and death to self and other as well as costly damage and legal consequences.  Teammate is late for practice?  DON'T TELL (unless coach asks) because there is no immediate concern.

I love your efforts to tell and not tell, well.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Virtues and Values

Virtues are qualities within a person that can grow and produce good behaviors. When you grow in generosity it shows in your increased giving to others. Values are things to which we give high worth that is relative and changeable.  When you were young, you valued your bike and now you value your car, and perhaps the freedom connected to both.  When I was young my neighborhood valued church picnics and now my neighborhood values privacy, perhaps a reflection of diminishing unity.

I prioritize growing in virtue over giving value.  Our Catholic faith helps us by defining virtues, teaching priorities, and showing them impervious to personal and cultural mood swings.  The highest virtues are faith, hope, and charity as love, called the Theological Virtues.  Prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude are Cardinal Virtues.  The Seven Heavenly Virtues are humility, generosity, chastity, meekness, temperance, brotherly love, and diligence.
The mass media "Pass It On" spots from currently highlights 83 "values" to include: appreciation, believe, caring, character, common ground, compassion, compliments, courtesy, do your part, encouragement, friendship, generosity, good manners, gratitude, hard work, helping others, honesty, hope, including others, inspiration, integrity, live life, live your dreams, love, making a difference, opportunity, optimism, patience, reaching out, right choices, sharing, sportsmanship, spread your wings, teaching by example, true beauty.  While each has worth, the swelling list and blurring of virtues and values doesn't help anyone to prioritize and live out what is most important.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13