The art of speaking with one another, we just do not do it well anymore, not that we did it with such style and grace previously. Listening to the current events in the nation leads me to think all we do is fight, argue, bully and kill each other. Not much going on in today’s world that makes us want to engage other people in conversation – I know I fear getting out in public more because if I do speak and someone takes it as an offense, then what will the outcome be, probably not what I expect.
I use to find such enjoyment in going to the movies, I loved watching great movies on the “big screen”, and it is the one time I mindlessly enjoy popcorn; it is a must for the theater. As of last Thursday night, July 23rd, I have no desire to be in a darkened theater if someone is angry at the world and is there with a hidden legal handgun and repeats what happened in Lafayette Louisiana. That was for me, the undoing of another place I considered to be safe. I will still attend my worship services with fellow believers, but the senseless tragedy in South Carolina is robbing me of peace in my surroundings. What I have concluded is that we, as humans who have the ability to reason, verbalize and choose our behavior; we are becoming incapable or unwilling to use that God given ability. Yes, we all have free will given to us by God, the right to pursue happiness given to us constitutionally and because of the freedom of speech which gives me the ability to blog and pen a book, it has all changed for me – and I do not think I am alone in that perception. Just as the Ten Commandments were ordered to be taken down in Oklahoma, I feel my individuality is under attack and being taken down. As my children and grandchildren go to the beach, I worry about their safety and simultaneously place them and their safety in the hands of my God and Savior. When choosing my word for the year, perseverance was the one I found that appeared to meet my needs scripturally and spiritually. In 2 Peter 1:5-7 of the New King James Version of the Bible I found these words that would lead me to my goal of inner peace and strength to persevere. Peter writes: “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” As I review the road to perseverance I am checking off my mental ‘to do’ list that will take me on my journey as well as a framework for checking off my progress. Proverbs 31:10-31 instructs me on how to become virtuous as a woman (always a work in progress), then I started searching for knowledge, not book knowledge but knowledge about the character of God so that I capture growth in faith and perseverance, I embarked on a journey of studying God’s Word. After starting and stopping on daily study on my own, God provided the opportunity to participate in organized and topic focused study through a small women’s group at my church on Friday night and through the Women’s Bible Café (www.womensbiblecafe.com) online. I am learning so much about God, my own faith and gaining an understanding of the scripture that was lacking in my life. The self-control in the above list is where I find myself at this time in my life due to my awareness of the violence; hatred and anger are in the world, outside of my safe place to fall which is on God, and out of my control. I repeat the scripture “Be anxious for nothing …” (Philippians 4:6), and that calms me but I still am concerned over how to stop this downward spiral that is happening around me. In trying to simplify the problem, communication is the key, or the missing link, which is totally based on my perspective of the day. Advancing on my goal to grow in the areas found in 2 Peter as mentioned above, our ability to talk by social media or on media, texting or email – we do not communicate thus we do not do well in social interactions. The lack of open feedback, challenges to our interpretation of actions and events and the inability to cope with our emotions leads us to where we are today. We are a people who are civilized but do not practice civility, or the love that is the goal of walking by faith in the Lord. Closing with a scripture, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). This is just one solution to the lack of caring about one another, speak only wholesome talk and build one another up not tear them down because of their personal beliefs. Be available to speak those encouraging words, when it is an observation that a person is isolating and withdrawing – speak an encouraging word, extend a willingness to listen in hopes that this will be an exchange of thoughts so an opportunity for enhancing a person’s ability to cope or just being a sounding board of acceptance. Even if we disagree, we do not have to say we disagree immediately – give an answer of “I hear what you are saying and I need to think about that” which tells them you honor their opinion at least enough to think about it and end with something encouraging. Determine to not be a catalyst of anger, bitterness and resentment. I am not there all the time, especially since anger has been both my strength and my lesser strength that has helped me to cope. But I have learned to not act on my anger; my anger is my problem, and not something to take out on other people or to act out publicly in a violent manner. I have to give that to God, He loves me unconditionally.