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Shame, Part II

29 Apr

Shame, Part II

I used to love this song by Sonny Bono when I was a teen.

I think all of us occasionally face people in life whose way of gaining control involves mocking others.

It may not even be a personal thing.  It so often is not.  That person feels so diminished, so voiceless that she mocks someone else for the attention it brings!

Or . . . someone can honestly hate something about us that is not evil.  She just hates our laugh, or the way we stand, or the way we bounce up and down when we get excited . . .

Whatever that characteristic is that gains us mockery, if we are not sinning, we need to just let the mockery go.  It doesn’t diminish us.  It diminishes the person who sees the need to be a mocker.  People get that.  Oh, yes they do.

I was stunned not long ago when someone who has been a close friend for years made an age joke at my expense in front of a crowd of people.  In fact, I was so stunned, I asked for clarification.  And, yes, it really was about 55-year-olds acting in an “age appropriate way.”

Just what is that?, one might ask.  Her take was that we should be slow and sedate.  At least slower and more sedate than I am, apparently.

Well.

I don’t think, with my tendency toward ADHD, that is gonna happen.  And I don’t think I am gonna try to conjure it up to please my friend and her definition of age appropriate behavior.

Sometimes ya just gotta let it go.

I trust that anyone in that crowd who laughed at me will reconsider when they see me living in integrity toward them, despite the jokes at my expense.

If not, mockery can function as an awfully good filter, to show you who your true friends are!!!

 

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Who is the Weaker Brother?

12 Mar

Who is the Weaker Brother?

This puts into words some important principles about not slipping into a “works-based salvation” just to appease someone with a tender conscience. Give that person his liberty. But don’t impose his scruples on the rest of the church.

“You Brought it On Yourself” or another Queen of Mean Statement We Christians Say . . .

26 Feb

I was caught up short by a younger friend a couple of years ago.  

Someone had made a very bad decision to jaywalk. 

He was struck by a car and died.  

I stated, “Well, he brought it on himself . . .”

My friend responded, “Then you think that jaywalking is a capital offense and should be punishable by death?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yes, you did.” 

(Ulp!)  She was right!

I have remembered that ever since.  I remember it when someone cuts me off in traffic and I find myself fantasizing about the next person not being able to stop and slamming into him, with disastrous results.

Cutting someone off in traffic is not a capital offense either.  Most things are not.

The first sign that we are giving way to unrighteous anger is that desire for people to be punished in ways far disproportionate to their offenses.

There is a judge in heaven.  But it is not us!  

I need to remember that quite often, so I don’t dishonor the gospel by presenting if from lips that are cold and unattractive and mean in their message.

God gave me mercy.  I can do no less for my fellow fallen humans.

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There are a Thousand Posts Saying a Husband Has to Earn His Wife’s Respect; This One Disagrees

23 Feb

There are a Thousand Posts Saying a Husband Has to Earn His Wife’s Respect; This One Disagrees

The nature of respect and love within marriage; if it has to be earned, it is not respect, it is not love.

Some thoughts from Matt Walsh, who always has something interesting to say.

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Eleven Reasons for the Soaring Distrust of Pastors!

21 Jan

Eleven Reasons for the Soaring Distrust of Pastors!

My poor pastor–having to maintain his godly ministry in the midst of these image-destroying stereotypes!

I totally identify with the one about an entitlement mentality having entered the church, too. I find most negative statements about my pastor (and other pastors) have much to do with people who expect the pastor to either be their best friend or at least to be there 24/7 at their beck and call. They get disillusioned when they don’t get all of his attention, all of the time.

Like it’s a competition or something. Many people seem to have never considered the idea that serving in the church is good for us, not just a way to get the pastor’s attention. Sheesh!

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

16 Jan

Okay, I am really venturing onto dangerous territory this week.  More than once.  Ha!

I have many young friends but I am going to say this–I think the generation currently in its 20’s and 30’s (is that just one generation?  I can’t keep track) is the most entitled generation ever.  

Some of my friends will know straightaway that this doesn’t apply to them.  Even if we joke about it.

Some will know that it sometimes does apply.  And we may joke about that, too.  

I kind of understand how it must feel.  We have kind of put you guys in a position where you are on the hook for our social security, and now our health care, without any guarantees that both of those systems will not bankrupt before you need them.  We are like a giant generational Ponzi scheme.  Not at all cool!

We were probably the last generation ever that wound up richer than its parents’ generation.  Then there were too many of us Baby Boomers and too few of you and . . . that just doesn’t sustain (do the math!).  

However, there is way to tiptoe around these realities with good will prevailing between us all and there is a way to crash like a bull through the generational china shop.

In general, when we can help you financially, we jump at the chance.  Even when we are not your actual parents, but just a couple of surrogates enlarging your world and your financial situation.  However, no one likes to be taken for granted.  We all like to feel that we belong in this world–that we are appreciated as people and not just as wallets with legs.  

So . . . you can play the game, or not.  

What is a good way that we can tell when you have chosen to not play the game?

Well, when we get laid off and you suddenly change your relationship with us might be one way!

That said, though, my main concern this week is not finances, but rather the fact that we may be inadvertently teaching you that envy and jealousy are okay.  

You see, we all get envious/jealous at some point in our lives.  But when I was young and found that happening, I would examine my heart and work on myself, with God’s help.

I am afraid nowadays we may have passed along the message to you that it is justifiable to feel envy toward others and that we totally understand if you let your envy harden into bitterness.  

Think not?

What happens when your children don’t receive as much attention as other children at church, Bible study, or playgroup?  What do you do?  What do we counsel you to do?

In general, no one is going to have all the same friends as another person.  You and each of your friends have a different network because you are different people.  If you have an older couple in your life who adore your kids, you are blessed.  Please don’t compare yourselves to others and get upset if you find another family that has two older couples loving on their kids!!!  Don’t plot to have your kids compete with the kids of another family for attention.  That is a lot to put on your kids.  Enjoy the friends you have, especially if they dote on your kids!

And don’t mope about uneven amounts of attention given by adults to other adults either.  The same thing goes.  We are all in different networks.  We also all have different personalities and so no two people will ever get the same amount of attention in the same situation.  It is statistically impossible.  

For example, I got a huge amount of attention the year I lost 100 pounds.  It was like everyone in my life became my cheering section. As outgoing as I am, I was constantly reporting to close friends, casual friends, and even perfect strangers the number of pounds I was down!

I think I got more attention that year than all other weight loss folks I have ever known put together!

But . . . I have a summer birthday and, ever since high school when I realized that birthdays are often celebrated by going out with friends, I have had spells of regretting that I was born while school is out and most people are concentrating on their vacations.  I have had one self-catered birthday party with friends (when I turned 40), one party at my best friend’s house when I happened to be visiting on my birthday, and one surprise slumber party when I turned 18 that still makes me giggle because there is no greater way to create shock than to plan a surprise party for a person with a summer birthday who doesn’t even have the concept of celebrating with friends!!!

So . . . see how that works?  I got dollops of attention for my weight loss but have bypassed the birthday parties that many others take for granted.  And every one of us has things like that–areas where we have received abundance to an overflow and other areas where we can feel somewhat left out at times.  

When we feel left out, let’s not institutionalize that.  Let’s find the parts where we can count blessings and feel grateful.  

Otherwise, we risk having an attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” coming across in our relationships and poisoning them.  

For truly, we are responsible, working with God, to find our own happiness and to live in our own state of contentment.  

If we don’t do that, it is not something anyone else can do for us, even loving surrogate (or actual) parents.  

When People With OCD Insist on Saying Everything that Comes to their Mind! (OCD #4)

5 Jan

This is my fourth post this week on life with our son’s OCD (hey, maybe I have OCD, too!).  

Something he just said to me tonight astonished me.  I have often wondered why he will not self-censor, even when he knows he will have consequences for some of the mean, hurtful things he says.  Turns out he . . . thinks it is lying if he does not say everything that comes to his mind!  

Wow, that is enlightening about OCD, isn’t it?  Not particularly helpful in coping, but enlightening. 

I can think of numerous times I have seen supposedly normal adults say similar things.

For example, just yesterday a veterinarian friend of mine posted a picture of herself on Facebook, taken while she was stroking a dolphin.  This was a bucket list item for my friend, an almost holy moment for which she had waited her entire life.  Yet one of her “friends” was unable to refrain from posting her disgust that the dolphin was kept in captivity.  

Really?  We can justify timing it so that we share our convictions which differ with those of a friend at the moment in that friend’s life when we can most deflate her and/or publicly humiliate her with our pronouncements?  And we feel very self-righteous as we do this?

Yet, I am almost certain there was OCD involved there, a compulsion to speak that this woman could seemingly not overrule.  

Another friend had just dropped her daughter at college almost a two-day drive from here.  As she posted about it on Facebook, obviously missing her daughter and needing comfort, another “friend” went on a rant about her own time at that particular college, stating that the only thing she ever found positive there was meeting her husband.

Really?  You have to say that now?

If that is OCD, no wonder it is hard for people with OCD to make and keep friends.  It seems as though they constantly choose the OCD over the friends.  There is no contest between them, apparently.  

Yet, of course, there is more at play here than meets the eye.  It is just a question of how we can show compassion without letting someone run us over constantly with a verbal steamroller.  That would not help anyone.

A practical example is a cashier at my local grocery store.  She visibly turned her nose up at a package of shrimp steamed in Old Bay seasoning that I brought to her line one day.  She then actually double-bagged her hands in order to not touch the package as she rang it up.  At first, I thought she had sneered at me and began to wonder what I might have done.  When she put the bags on her hands, I recognized the OCD in play and asked about her reaction.  She readily admitted to having a gag reflex with shrimp.  

Now . . . how do you have a career in a grocery store if you visibly turn up your nose every time a customer buys shrimp?  But more importantly, how do you have any career anywhere if your OCD is so disabling that you have big red flags all around you as people see you trying to do your job and stalling out while you double bag your hands? 

I have no answers, but only questions.  Questions worthy of lots of research and reading.

My son’s social worker/counselor once told me that Sigmund Freud had done a great disservice to mankind by telling us that things get better for us psychologically if we talk about them. He introduced “talk therapy” and the human race has not shut up since, saying some vastly inappropriate things that should better be left unsaid.  

It does help to talk about many things, but the social worker was referring to some of her clients who had broken the law, crossing lines sexually.  And they seemed to believe that their obsessions and compulsions would get better if they talked about them, if they described them to her.  Not wanting to take a mental mudbath, she told them that no human being needed to be on the receiving end of such dreadful confidences.  She said it was unfortunate that they felt they needed to talk through them because no amount of money would compel her, nor any other counselor, to be on the listening end of what they wished to say . . . 

She made a stand that families dealing with OCD need to make.  Even when the topic is milder than sexuality, OCD pushes people to “overshare” and drives other people away.  

I remind my son of that regularly–that I don’t need to know every thought that comes to his mind and that, in fact, it is cruel to inflict many of his negative thoughts on me as I try to stay motivated to help him go the distance in life.  

There is balance to be found somewhere . . . and I will find it one day, with God’s help.   

Performance-based Parenting

24 Dec

I serve a perfect, all-knowing Saviour, but I am a work in progress and will be one until the day I depart this earth.

One thing I am struggling with right now is the idea that an attitude of gratitude is hard to teach to one’s offspring.  

I don’t necessarily think that is an issue restricted to special needs offspring.  I have seen enough examples of the “most entitled generation ever” to say that many of us have not been able to teach the concept of “attitude of gratitude.”  Or maybe not all of my generation even tried . . .  

I know that my special needs son needs to catch this as an attitude of the heart, not as an externally imposed rule from me.  I also know his college, which is a Christian school for special needs people, is aware of the need to convey this concept in a heart-to-heart way.  So we all keep plugging away at teaching it . . .

Where I think I have failed in the past is in not realizing that if I accept dismissive behavior directed toward me by my son, I am disobeying the part of God’s Word that says children need to be taught to respect their parents, and actually to treat every human being with dignity.  

It is subtle, this whole issue.  I certainly imposed consequences for blatantly disrespectful language or actions.  

What I didn’t see coming until it was in my rearview mirror was the tendency to hand me a “to do list” for which appreciation is never shown, but with a new list of demands being issued when the old list is finished.  

I spent my childhood trying to find one minute in which I felt I had completed enough actions to be considered a good daughter.  I now find myself spending my motherhood doing the same, in relation to my child.  I am measuring my parenting by whether I can ever get to the point where I have completed the “to do list” of things my kid wants done for him.  And the answer is . . . I cannot.  

There is so much wrong there, at so many levels.  Relationships should not be defined by what others do for us.  We all know that.  Or rather, the only relationship that should be defined by what others do for us is that of employer and employee.

But what makes me saddest is that I have not conveyed the idea of an attitude of gratitude.  I don’t often hear “thank you” when we cross one thing off the “to do list.”  Actually, I usually just hear that one thing being replaced by two more requirements.  And I know they are only requirements because I allow them to be.

I know that getting mad and pushing back will not solve this.  We cannot legislate an attitude of gratitude.  Sitting down like a mule and saying I won’t do anything more for my family won’t cut it either.  Nothing that is being asked of me is abnormal for family life.  It is just all being asked in a way that takes me totally for granted.  

I did just declare a moratorium for Christmas Eve and Christmas.  I will not acknowledge any requests till the 26th.  I am exhausted, ten days after my son arrived home from college.  We have been to two malls, the Navy Exchange twice, a thrift store, three special restaurants, the doctor, a beauty parlor (for haircut), and the grocery store that has six packs of Coke.  That is not factoring in all of the requests to jump up and find things for him at home or to do things for him that he has not yet mastered for himself (that is probably the special needs part–and, in all fairness, he is working on self-help skills and is making great progress).  

So, for those of you who have never lived with a special needs person, that may be an eye-opening rant, although I know we all have our own responsibilities in life and many, many of us live in a sacrificial way within our families.  

I just realize that it is a two-way street.  If we are nothing but sacrifice, then our children become nothing but takers.  

And, if my parenting is to be performance-based at all, I should at least take God’s view of my performance, which is that I should convey righteous standards to my child, not teach him to be a taker all life long.  

I take the point and . . . I run to my Saviour once again, to be found fully sufficient in Him and in His righteousness, while I walk this earth in fear and trembling, living and learning and growing and always knowing I fall short, but that in Him I have everything.     

When is the right time to get right with God?

24 Dec

I have been thinking this week about an attitude of gratitude and how a lack thereof seems to be the basis for every sin we can commit against God.  

Nothing we can do to offend Him seems to be independent of Him and of the grace He has so freely given us.  He encloses us from all sides, and so does His grace.  Even when we act out against Him, we have to go through layers of His grace to do so.   

Everything we do to sin against Him seems to reinforce the idea that we think we don’t need Him and His stinking grace.  That we can make it on our own.  

Ironically, the American pioneer spirit that morphed into the American entrepreneurial spirit often seems to credit man for his achievements on his own, not factoring in the God who gave him his abilities and his opportunities.  

Absolutely right, President Obama.  We didn’t build that on our own.  American ingenuity did not happen in a vacuum.  But it also wasn’t empowered by government or by a community of other people.  At its base, it was empowered by God.  Everything is.

Knowing that, what do we do to be in relationship with God?  We acknowledge our neediness in relation to His abundance.  We accept His gifts, freely given to us.  Most of all, we accept the gift of His Son whom He sent at Christmastime to pay the penalty for our sins.

Sadly, many people go through life with no understanding that they owe gratitude to God.  They think God will be lucky to get them as followers.  And they put off the time when they will become His followers.  They may intend to do that after they have pursued every dream they have, independently of Him.

Problem with that is, there is never a good time to suddenly switch to a planned attitude of gratitude.  There are so many reasons to justify remaining independent of God.  And, when we do, we may find a way of becoming bitter with God when He speaks into our lives.

Case in point, how many people live their lives independently of God, then consider following Him when they grow older and suddenly face cancer or heart disease?  Problem with that is that those conditions can produce immense fear and depression, merely by inhabiting the human body.  Family members may struggle with the same emotions, trying to care for us while we are ill.  If we have not previously begun a relationship with God, there is a very good chance that we won’t see anything in these situations to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in us now.  Quite the opposite, we might get downright angry with God for allowing heart disease or cancer, even in a person 60 or 70 years old who has previously had a healthy life with many travels and adventures.  

Statistics show that it is extremely rare for a person who has lived life independently of God to suddenly turn to Him in the 60’s or 70’s. There is a very good reason God told us to remember our Creator in the days of our youth.

I plead with everyone reading this to get right with God this Christmastime.  There will probably not be a time later on when you are more likely to do so.  

And . . . if we fail to plan for eternity, we default to having the same situation in eternity as we had in this life.  An eternity independent of God.  In a place called hell. 

“Holiday Inn” (I bought it without having seen it!!!)

23 Dec

Since I am stretching myself this Christmas and trying to see some holiday movies I haven’t seen before, I watched “Holiday Inn” today.  I believe I have seen parts of it before, but never the whole movie.  

What I took from it was that Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire finally learned that manipulating a woman to win her is not cool!  They fought over the same women all movie long.  If one wanted her, the other wanted her.  Usually it was Fred Astaire, scheming to take away Bing Crosby’s newest love.  But Bing did plenty of manipulation of his own, trying to keep Fred from taking away his girlfriends!!!  

When once Bing backed off and gave a woman the freedom to walk out of his life, he wound up winning back the woman he loved.  Tellingly, he was the first to the altar of the two (we presume, from the ending of the movie . . .). 

This movie reinforces the idea that love of a human being can easily become idolatry (of self or of that other person).  Even though the movie was not meant to teach Christian theology, it was made in a simpler time when such lessons often came just by being part of the society back then.  

People are not possessions.  Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire learn that in “Holiday Inn.”  Have we?  

We Interrupt this Program . . .

23 Dec

With our son home from his special needs college in Wisconsin, Noel and I have been talking more than usual about social relationships, noticing how they work and where they can break down . . .

One thing we spoke about in the car on the way to church yesterday was the art of inserting ourselves into a conversation, or even changing the topic.  Lots of people struggle in that area, not just people with special needs.

Facebook and other social media have underlined this issue.  

So let’s try to go through it and see whether there are any rules that can be applied to entering someone else’s conversation.  

I would say (with my only expertise 55 years of being alive as a student of human nature and relationships):  

1) If you start the conversation, whether in person or on Facebook, you own the topic.  You get to decide if someone can change the subject or not.  Some subject changes relate to a topic and further it.  And some are just off the wall.  Your choice which ones you wish to pursue!!!  

2) If you are trying to change the subject in someone else’s conversation and the person goes along with you, great!

3) If you are trying to change the subject in someone else’s conversation and the person changes the subject back or tells you that you are going off topic, you can’t claim persecution. You can, however, go start your conversation on your own Facebook page or with other people (if in a group).  No one is forcing you to remain part of the original discussion.  In fact, it is bad form to remain in that conversation if you are only going to be there to disparage it.  

4) As in all of life, we all have free speech (at least in this country) but we have to find our own audience for it.  It is really, really bad form to intrude on someone’s conversation, when a group has gathered, with the sole intent of changing the subject to your favorite political hot potato issue!  Really.  And don’t commandeer someone else’s Facebook page for political grandstanding either.  

So there are several rules we have noted.  What have you seen?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Letting Go of Grudges

20 Dec

This mama’s story is awesome. Learning to forgive in the face of a real and measurable hurt to her child. Forgiveness is hard, but it is a requirement.

Sowing Mercy

“When we forgive, we are released from the bondage of the grudge.” Dr. Stephen LeBar, Pastor of Jenison Bible Church.

Grudges, or the longterm withholding of forgiveness, occur when our sense of justice has been offended. I may feel that I have not received the respect I deserve, the fruits of my labor, or someone I love has been hurt. We have been wronged, and we simmer with resentment. Grudges can also harm our own health and affect the people around us. They cause trouble and defile those around us.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:14-15

When my oldest daughter was nearing kindergarten age, we noticed…

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Arab Spring: Replacing One Autocrat with Another . . .

19 Dec

Taking a break from the endless Duck Dynasty controversy in the U.S. (yes, it is a first world issue, as the worker bees of this world have to work hard to make a living and don’t have time to get into endless arguments about who could have said “homosexuality is sin” in better words than Phil Robertson did), I tuned to BBC World News coverage of the Arab Spring and of one country where homosexuality is still regarded as sin, without much debate on the issue.  Egypt.

Interesting that the analysis being presented shows a pattern in Egypt that prevails no matter how much the people want change:  Egypt is always, always ruled by an autocrat.  Mubarak was one, Morsi was one, the current general who is running the country and looking good to be freely elected in the next round of elections is one . . . As the BBC said about Egypt and about other countries involved in the Arab Spring, they have only changed autocrats.  No one has ever yet achieved democracy.  

Why are we surprised?  Those raised without freedom don’t know how to handle it.  So, when given a chance, they will vote against it and “dance with the devil that brung them.”  Or, rather, they won’t even run any candidates representing true democracy.

If a country wants to develop democracy, they need help over a number of years, if not decades.  

And maybe they don’t need help from the likes of us, as we only seem intent on stifling opposing viewpoints over here these days . . .

Rather than turn back to Duck Dynasty (urp!), let me turn to a group I know pretty well.  

I turn to my friends, the IFB (Independent Fundamental Baptists) and their next generation, many of whom are anti-IFB.

This is my beloved denomination, by the way.  It has warts, both nationally and in each local church.  But which body of humans does not?

What I have been seeing that is disheartening though is that the “next generation” of pastors and theologians who are rising up to rebuke the simplistic thinking and the sound bytes that have been issued from IFB pulpits over the decades (we are not a denomination known for writing or even reading many books–to our great shame, I am afraid) are falling far short of any scholarship of their own.  

Many are reading the New Reformers (Young, Restless, and Reformed) and either accepting Calvinistic thinking in one swallow (not thinking it through first) or rejecting Calvinism but pasting the rest of the New Reformed thinking over their current theology.  

Can you think of anything more convoluted and confusing?  I honestly have not reached conclusions about many areas of doctrine as taught by Calvin, Spurgeon, etc.  But rather than just start spouting words which I don’t fully understand yet, I leave the issues on the backburner of my mind and heart and read more about them . . .

That is how reasoned theological stands are formed.  That is also how reasoned (and reasonable) debate takes place.  People who merely quote sound bytes they heard from people who were much more educated than they were (and who took the time to think through their stands) do much violence to the cause of Christ by not really knowing what their theology is at all. It is so unnecessary to be this way, too. Rather than sniping at the Old Guard, these guys could be engaging in some scholarship of their own!!! 

But, ironically, rather than work on forming a solid theological understanding, these are the guys who spend their time rebuking their elders for inconsistent theological stands based on sound byte theology.  

Far as I can tell, extremists in both groups have done exactly the same thing. They have resorted to sound bytes in order to rebuke everyone who disagrees with them.

One group of autocrats replacing another.  Mubarak (the IFB elders) being replaced by Morsi (the anti-IFB young bucks).  

Thank God the living, breathing, loving IFB pastors whom I know locally are not of that ilk. They study, they teach, they preach the gospel tirelessly. Bless them.

The others, the extremists, will just stand there rebuking each other for the next several decades while a world of lost people slides closer and closer to hell . . . 

Know-it-alls are often autocrats.  Autocrats are often know-it-alls.  Neither are people in a position to lead us in evangelizing a lost world . . .

Breaking Down Generational Barriers!

18 Dec

As I am working on some thoughts about extroverts and introverts and people in between, I am also working out some things mentally about human nature and generational differences.  

There are a couple of things that may not be generational features, but which tend to show up more among my younger friends than among others.  It might be that all generations feel this way while younger, especially if older generations seem to be pushy with them socially.

The first thing is the tendency to treat social courtesies as though they were orders being given.  Have you seen this one?

It consists of someone giving the “right of way,” in a crowded shopping mall or somewhere else, to another person.  The usual way this has been done socially is by gesturing with the hand and/or saying, “Go ahead.”  What I had not heard, until the last five years, is the response, “Don’t you tell me what to do!”     

To be honest, I heard that once out of my son with Aspergers syndrome and explained to him that the person was being polite and putting himself second in order to let my son go first.  I think Joey got it–I never heard him say that again.  But I have heard it, before and after my son did it, from other members of his generation.

It is a dilemma, isn’t it?  How do we have a world in which people don’t crash into each other in crowded places if the person who steps back in kindness to let the other person go first is perceived as offending that other person?

The second thing is the rejection of compliments, specifically by stating that the person offering them does not have the proper credentials in that area to offer a compliment.  

Being an extrovert, I have long tried to offer encouragement to others via telling them when I think they have done a particularly good job on something. I am not an expert in every area of life and, granted, I may offer compliments in areas where I don’t have lots of expertise.  That used to be understood across the social strata, I believe.  

In fact, in my youth, if you sang the lead in the school musical, everyone would tell you that you did a great job, especially your grandparents and aunts and uncles!!!  No one would ever have thought to say to them, “You don’t have enough of a musical background to be able to judge whether my performance was good or not.”  But they do say that nowadays.

Two years ago, our choir sang excerpts from Handel’s Messiah for our Christmas cantata.  It was a labor of love on which we worked all year!  Since I had done it before, twice in England, I was worth my weight (really heavy at the time) in gold to my fellow choirmembers as we practiced.  I was used to people placing themselves on either side of me (and behind me) in order to hear my part (to either sing with it or to sing the alto part against it).

I got a lot of attention because of my experience with the piece, nothing more and nothing less. I would never have thought to differentiate between those who read music and who could tell what we were up against with that piece and those who don’t read music and who had to memorize the piece verbatim.  I would never have thought to reject the compliments of the latter group.

Yet I have since seen a tendency at concerts to want the person giving the compliment to establish her music credentials before the compliment will be accepted.  If a stranger (me!) comes up at a high school concert and says, “Great job on that solo!” it is hard to know what to do when the compliment is met by a stare.  

It is also hard to know what to do when complimenting a fellow handchimes musician after we play a number when the compliment is met with stony silence.  Is it necessary to first say all the disclaimer stuff like “I realize that I am only another handchimes player like you and I claim no special position to be able to judge your work, however I liked what I heard!”?    

Seems like we are going to have to find a way to meet each other halfway here.  Things that once were seen as social kindnesses that helped the world go ’round are now being billed as unnecessary intrusions into people’s lives.  

And I am still not sure how to get through a crowded mall without holding up my hand to let someone else go first.  Unless I just plow my way through like a Sherman tank, ignoring everyone around me . . . (yikes!).

Speck Detectors

13 Dec

http://www.theblazingcenter.com/2013/12/seeing-a-million-specks-in-a-million-eyes.html

Wow, convicting!

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