Hey guys, this is Mom. Have a seat here next to me while we have a chat…
As I listen to the news or even public conversations, I am stunned at the realization of how quickly wisdom and common sense is being eroded. In fact, what I knew of common sense, common courtesy, commonality, and community are less common with each day. I ask myself, “What happened? Where is the America I once knew – the community spirit that was common? Is there a way to retrieve it and pass on its values?” It is such a heart-wish of mine to want you to share in it.
Unfortunately, as I see it, what happened is that in my lifetime we distanced ourselves in education, public policy, traditions and politics from God and His ways. We as a nation placed Him in a box marked, “Sprinkle on lightly only when needed.” When we looked at the solid foundations and principles upon which our country was founded and flourished and we decided we no longer needed to uphold the Ten commandments, prayer or Bibles in schools or public places – we essentially turned our backs on God.
When we decided that although it is ‘self-evident that all are created equal with certain unalienable rights – life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ – we reversed it and decided our personal pursuit of happiness gave us the right to do many things, even if it took away from other’s rights – including taking the lives of our very young and most vulnerable. We turned our back on the Creator of life and exchanged the beauty of His ways for an inhumane procedure and then called it ‘good.’ Funny how we think we know better than the LifeGiver by exchanging His gift and value for all life, subjugating it to a ‘right’ to choose. We cringe at the horrors of butchering performed by those in ISIS, yet we do the same in sterile clinics. And still call it good. A ‘right’.
No wonder we hold so little value for the lives of others.
And maybe that’s where it began – we are now experiencing the effects of our choice, of His absence. Child abuse, objectifying women, all kinds of bullying, students not respecting teachers, people not honoring those who have sacrificed for our freedoms – it is all on the rise and many people feel devalued, from the youngest, those with disability, the aged, various minority or ethnic groups. No one is left unscathed.
Logically, since we exert our right to disown God and we distance ourselves from Him, we lose all sense of wisdom – and all sense of everything He is and brings – including goodness, rightness, justice, mercy, compassion, truth, love.
So how, as people created in His image, can we reflect these in our lives?
This Loving Creator designed man and woman specifically separate and equal. No blurred lines. He established family and guidelines for protection and for blessing. So, from that same heart, I would like to pass along some values. Things that were once common knowledge and behavior.
– First off, remember your roots. They are your compass, and your foundation. You are meant to build on it. Glean from the good, release any broken stones of pain. Everyone has something painful and challenging, either in their past or their present. You are not defined by the color of your skin, the number on your house or even your abilities. You were given life, but the choices you make and the pursuits you follow will be what defines you. What consumes your mind or what you cherish in your heart will become the ‘who’ in whoever you become. Be wise
– Live out your faith. In many ways it is easier to walk by sight and not by faith, but then you miss out on the whole point. We are designed with a general and a unique purpose. The general one is to discover God’s heart and ways, love Him, live in fellowship with Him and reflect His love to others. Seek Him to know the specific way He expresses Himself though you and pursue it with all your might. Don’t fear trying out new possibilities. You can trust Him, even in the craziness and even in the dark. He is for you. Among all the voices in the world, listen to the Voice of the Shepherd and Guide. He can be trusted. Be faithful
– Along with that, remember that we each have been given something to improve the world around us and also something to receive. It might not always be evident, or might not be what you may think. Seek it out in yourself and offer it to the world. Do not be too proud to receive from others. Amazing things occur when we work collectively. Always seek to leave people and places better than when you found them. Inspire hope. Inspire faith. Be the best you can be and bring out the best in others. The world should be a better place because you have left the mark of God upon it. Light your world. Be Jesus.
– What can take years to build can take only minutes to destroy, whether it’s your reputation or your relationships. Be mindful what you do and say. If you can’t say something good, kind or true (and kindly true), wait until you can. The manner in which you talk determines the results. If you bring a beautiful message delivered in a bulldozer or armored vehicle, the message will be lost. The manner in which you do anything is what people remember, whether kindness or whether harshness. Don’t feel like you can get ahead by shaming others. Use the gift of your influence to inspire others, to build them up. Create an environment of hope, peace and love around you. It is easy to complain about the state of things, but true strength comes from finding solutions. It’s hard to be positively creative when you live in a negative place. Be diplomatic. Embrace kindness.
– Do what good you can, whenever you can. There are opportunities always before you. Treat others the way you want them to treat you, even if it is not returned. Yes, you are your brother/sister’s keeper. You are your neighbor’s advocate. You are your enemy’s intercessor. Yes, you are a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves. Don’t give in to the shallow, “It’s not my job” mentality. Go beyond what is expected. Bring in that extra shopping cart, pick up that dropped candy wrapper, but when you do, send a prayer for the one who will next push the cart, and for the one who dropped the wrapper. Pay (or pray) it forward. Look for ways to bring joy to the heart of another through seeds of kindness. Celebrate the lives of others. Be a hero to someone every day.
– Chivalry and responsibility and respectability and honor are only a lost art if you allow it to die. In other words, use polite words. Consider the feelings of others. Look out for the benefit of your neighbor. You don’t get to decide who ‘deserves’ it. Just. Be. Polite. Respect others because you are respectable.
– Begin with saying please.
- Say thank you.
- Say excuse me.
- Say I’m sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.
- Say how can I help you?
- Be present
- Be a history-maker
- Be a future maker
– Practice patience. With the elderly man shuffling across the street. With the exhausted cashier. With the child’s multiple questions. With the driver in front of you. With the person in the wheelchair. With those who are rude or disagreeable. Be patient
– It is good for you to wait for things and not get them easily or quickly. Hard work is good for character building and is a lifelong tool to equip you for many challenges you would otherwise miss out on; skills like patience, problem-solving, people skills, the sense of accomplishment of something done well using your skills and hands. I hope you feel the fulfillment of a job well-done. Don’t always seek the easiest or fastest way
– Don’t rush things. Look for the benefits of being ‘in the waiting room.” It raises the value of what you are waiting for in your heart. What you look for, you will find. Look for the good. Always.
– Truth matters. Listen to both sides of the story, and ask for the discernment of the Holy Spirit to weigh in – always. Speaking the truth, holding on to the truth is foundational and transformative. You can’t negotiate with a plumb line. Live truth
– Integrity counts. Don’t promise more than you can deliver. Never promise something you can’t, won’t, or don’t follow through on. Your word is attached to your name, a very precious thing. Earning trust and keeping it can’t be bought or gained any other way. Have integrity.
– Honor. All. People. Even if you disagree with their positions or opinions, disagree with gracious honesty. You don’t get to decide who deserves it, but you do get to choose to honor others – because you are honorable. Choose honor
– Be unoffendable. Too many are easily offended and quick to be angry and quick to label others; some even feel like a disagreement is ‘hate speech’. It is not hate speech to disagree with someone. Dad and I do not agree on everything, but we love each other dearly. Loving and disagreeing are not mutually exclusive. Be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to be angry Celebrate differences
-“Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.” Rev. Billy Graham Courage is not the absence of fear. Do the right thing, even if afraid. Have courage stand firm
– Humor should also be near the top of your toolbox. Laughter is good for the body and soul. And for strained relationships. Laugh at yourself and don’t take yourself too seriously. Humor can diffuse stressful situations and lighten heavy burdens. Adopt humor
– When making hard decisions, choose the path of least regret. It is better to experience disappointment for a time rather than regret for a lifetime.
Be proud to be an American. Not arrogant proud, but patriotic proud.
America has brought the world many accomplishments and has been remarkable in innovation because of freedom. Look them up. America is not faultless in its past but it has risen as an outstanding leader in the free world and sought to right its own wrongs as well as compassionately serve the needs of other nations. It’s all on record. It is not without its current challenges, but it is extraordinary and exceptional in seeking to stand for life and for freedom here and abroad.
Greatness does not mean you have an unblemished past but it does mean you learn from it, refuse to dwell on it, but move forward with new understanding and resolve. Books are filled with stories of heroes, known and little-known who have marked the way for us, with true sacrifice. We have lost the understanding of what that means in our desire to have our rights met. Read about them. Honor them. Pray for peace, strength, wisdom and God’s presence to be our Guide into the future.
- There’s so much more I want to say. Be content. Be compassionate. Be forgiving. Radiate joy. Love from a pure heart and clear conscience.
And just maybe, if you practice these uncommon things, they will once again become common.