My intentions for todays blog changed somewhat over the course of the last week. This past Sunday was my dad’s brother’s birthday (Uncle Lee) and my sister and I decided to go see him to wish him a Happy Birthday. After spending several hours talking to him and listening to stories about family, friends, and the town he grew up in that taught the kids (and I don’t mean the education they got in school…..as I recall, Uncle Lee called it “Common Sense” education) I knew I had to change direction just a little. He mentioned how the family was always happy, even during some of the most dark times you could imagine.
How is it that someone can say they were always happy during the darkest of times? To give background, my daddy’s family lived in a small, rural, Texas community. When my dad was 8 years old his father was injured in a farming accident and died several days later. He left a wife (pregnant with my Uncle Lee), my dad, two older sisters, and a younger brother, Jim (who later died in a car accident at 15 years old). My grandmother only had about a 7th grade education. How do you provide for a family like that during the depression? Well, she did. She and the community taught my dad and his brothers and sisters about love, compassion and hard work. They grew up with a strong sense of “All for one and one for all,” as my Uncle Lee put it. There was never a thought of self. It was all about each other and the people around them. It was a true love for family, friends, and even strangers. They never spoke ill of anyone and if I am truly honest I can look back at my time with my own dad and I can’t remember one time he had anything bad to say about anyone……..even when I knew it was someone who had done something to offend him.
Ephesians 4:29 talks about only speaking what builds people up. Proverbs 15:4 says, “the soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” Boy does it ever! Proverbs 18:21 says the tongue has the power of life and death and I believe we can see that in the world we live in today. Many of our problems today are a direct result of what we speak or what has been spoken to us. The Bible says in Matthew 12:34 “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” I believe many of our hearts are pretty dark. From our own hearts is where the joy or hurt that lies within us comes from and what causes us to speak ill of ourselves and of others. This was the main reason I addressed loving yourself in last weeks blog.
As children we are typically happy and extremely loving. The world hasn’t quite gotten it’s grip on us yet. I believe that is why Jesus says in Matthew 18:3 unless we become like little children we will not enter His kingdom. But what happen? Where does the depression, the anger, self-loathing, putting others down, and all the negativity come from? I would bet if each one of us looked hard enough we could pin point the moment things began to change and I would bet it started with something someone said or did that impacted you negatively and made you question yourself. Before I go on can I just say that is the evil around us and you are a precious and wonderful gift from God with a divine purpose!!!!!!!!!!!!!
For me it was my 8th grade year. Prior to that, I was one of the happiest people on the earth. I had a strong Christian belief and I never questioned anyone’s motive. Towards the end of the year my school was having elections for Student Council President. I had been Vice President the year before and pretty much should have been a shoe-in for President. Evidently, my running had offended someone. Without going into detail I was literally boo’d when I came onto the stage to give my speech (in front of the whole student body) and when I left after I was done. Although I smiled the best I could and gave my speech proudly I was devastated on the inside. As I started paying more attention to things being said about me, many of which were not good, I started to believe them more and more. From there detrimental behavior followed and the vicious cycle began……I was not good enough……This thought process lead to talking bad about others to make myself feel better about me or participating in things I never thought I would. This, I believe, if where things like drug use, alcoholism, eating disorders and bullying begins. Just take a look at the increase in these things especially the suicide rates among young people. It is scarey to say the least.
How do we break the cycle? I’m glad you asked. I will start by saying its not easy and honestly I don’t have it completely figured out. The nasty beast raised its head in my life just this past weekend. Ugh! I hate it when that happens. The starting place is to begin with what I talked about in my last blog. I’m no psychologist and certainly not a professional counselor and if you are dealing with serious issues I recommend getting help from a professional. I am just a human being with my own experiences and I know what has helped me. The place I had to start was with myself. I had to quit believing the lies the evil one kept whispering in my ear. Once I felt better about myself, loving others became so much easier. Start making efforts towards others. Whether its family, friends, or strangers just lifting them up makes a world of difference. Smile all the time, even when you don’t feel it. Say hello to strangers. Don’t turn your eyes away. Engage in a positive way with people. Give sincere compliments. Take up for someone who is being unfairly treated. Don’t gossip. Find positive things to say about EVERYONE……….even those who you disagree with or who have hurt you. Most of all forgive!
My daddy passed away in 2004 at the age of 77. It wasn’t until after his funeral that I truly realized the man he was. This very humble hard working man had a packed church of people saying farewell. Some of them were students of his from his very first teaching job and others childhood friends. There were business associates and current friends. As I talked to more people that day and since then, the one thing they all have said is they never heard him say anything bad about anyone. Soon after my dad’s death my mother gave my two sisters and I a poem he use to carry in his wallet. I never even knew he carried this but I want to end by sharing it with you. This is what I want to strive for. This is what I want to be. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires you as well.
I Know Something Good
Wouldn’t this old world be better
If folk we meet would say –
“I know something good about you!”
Then treat you the same way?
Wouldn’t it be fine and dandy,
If each handclasp fond and true;
Carried with it this assurance –
“I know something good about you!”
Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If the good that’s in us all,
Were the only thing about us
That folk bothered to recall?
Wouldn’t life be lots more happy
If we praised the good we see?
For there is lots of goodness
In the worst of you and me!
Wouldn’t it be nice to practice,
That fine way of thinking, too?
You know something good about me!
I know something good about you!