Can we talk …….. at all!

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.

Living in Fear, Dread, Anxiety …

Today’s news can be very distressing, no, it is distressing!  We have violence in communities that result in death, we have people fighting in airplanes for more space, the news headlines are of wars in Afghanistan, Ukraine, Iran, Palestine, Gaza … you name it, there is strife, death, violence and eminent wars … all that we hear warns us of danger and sets a negative tone in which we must function.  When pondering those things that are adding stress to our ability to function in calm and with an attitude of thanksgiving (1Thessalonians 5:18), I wonder how do we begin.  My mind continues to go back to a well written article by a pastor in our area, Dr. Joshua Joy Dara, Sr.  I love listening to his words each day on the television, they usually bring a smile to my face and certainly provide me with a moment of peace, but I find this article to really provide some answers.  You see, if we know where to start in addressing a problem, something that has a negative impact on our lives, we are able to move beyond the intense fear that comes with worldwide situations, and once we think outside of the fear, we can begin to work on finding a way to be thankful for even the tough situations.  Many have shared that it is a sign that the end of time is near, I know that things are deteriorating in society, but I also know that no one knows when “the end” will come.  But I will agree that for me, things are difficult everywhere we look, and seeing the end of it is very worrisome, but until that time comes I have to be responsible for my choices and my actions.  Yelling at the television, blaming the president, senators or representatives, or  state or city officials will not change our course as a nation, but starting with ourselves we can change the negativity into a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.  Sounds like my cheese slid off my cracker, but Dr. Dara spoke of unity in his article “A Call For Unity” (http://www.thetowntalk.com/story/life/2014/08/17/dara-call-unity/14177297/) in citing Philippians 2:2-4 … having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind … as a way to begin to change the outcomes we are experiencing in society today.  How to start : “… by letting nothing be done through strife …” and moving forward.  Our attitude and a spirit of love.  So we start by loving ourselves the way that God loved us enough to create us then send His Son to die for our sins giving us eternal life, and then loving the people with whom we live … our spouses, our children and then moving to our church and our community. Blaming others does not solve any problem, we all bear some responsibility.  I had a man say to me once after I had presented in a breakout session, that I must be a Baptist because I think love will fix everything.  Baptist or not is not what is important, being a Christian and trying to practice love, unconditional love, is a choice, is a command, is a must in order for our churches, our communities, our society and our nation to succeed.  Fear paralyzes us and freezes us in a never ending cycle that is often negative and defeating, because we are doing nothing, feeling helpless and hopeless.  But taking action empowers us to effect change … even if it is one person at at time.  God has assured me that I survived cancer so that I could make a difference one person at a time … that is where I need to begin, and it is how it has worked for me the twenty-two years since my life altering experience with cancer.  This week on Facebook, there was this beautiful post shared over and over, so I know it must be resonating with many others in the Facebook community.  I want to share it with you because it provides the scriptures to validate what we need to do to achieve the kind of love that will change our world.  We watched the Ebola miracle when a doctor and a volunteer were willing to take an experimental drug so that the people in Africa may eventually be made whole.  So we need the vaccine of “love” to be our miracle that will make our world whole.  I want to share that post with you so that you can find the way to love, genuine, true, agape love that is our command for life and relationships.

10 Ways to love

Try to spend some time this week and choose one action to take, to practice.  For me, praying without ceasing will lead us to the actions we need to take, but it will also push out the negative thought patterns and lead us to a place where we can make room for being thankful and practicing love.  Thanks to the person who shared this 10 Ways to Love with us on Facebook, and I want to thank Dr. Joshua Joy Dara, Sr. for his words of wisdom.