Monthly Archives: February 2016

Builders or wreckers?

This post will by no means be a Scripture lesson, although the idea for it came as I was reading a passage from John in my Bible this morning. For those not familiar with the story, a lame man was healed by Christ after being afflicted for some 80+ years. (If you want the entire story, you can find it in John 5:1-15) What struck me as I read it was that immediately – right after Jesus told the man “Get up, take up your bed and walk” and he did so, the next part of the verse says “And that day was the Sabbath.” Guess what? The Jewish leaders of the time immediately came to the man and said, in colloquial terms,  “Hey – this is the Sabbath – it’s against the rules for you to be carrying your bed.” The story then continues to say that they began to actively persecute Christ because He was doing those things on the Sabbath. When I read that, I laughed right out loud, and shook my head somewhat ruefully at how little we, as a people, have changed in the 2000 years since Christ walked the Earth. I mean, if you believe the story is true (which, obviously, I do) instead of being happy that the man had been healed, they immediately began berating him for breaking the rules and finding fault in what had been done. They were experts at turning lemonade into lemons, you might say. They were wreckers, instead of builders. (Nice plug for the title, eh? 😀 )

“Ok,” you may be saying, “So what?” So this. Have you read the comment sections of any news articles lately? Perused the comments of things posted on social media? It doesn’t matter what the story is; how positive or uplifting, or how tragic and heartbreaking, there invariably are those who come along and feel that it is their God-given duty to point out something negative or something judgmental about the situation. They come thundering like gangbusters, making lemons out of lemonade and finding the dark cloud in every silver lining. By way of examples: snow slides off a roof and buries three children, one of whom dies. In among the expressions of grief and sorrow are those going on about how the parents should have kept the roof clean, or THIS is why you DON’T have metal roofs. A person posts about how they are going through a tough time for X or Y reason, and someone comes along with condemnation about their lifestyle, or even worse, some trite “Christian” statement about their need for God or lack of faith, or something similar.

We’re experts at judging others, and pointing out their faults and failings – and also experts at ignoring our own, a great many times. We tear down much more easily and quickly than we build up.

Want some encouragement? IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY. None of us HAVE to do that. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am by no means advocating the “lack of tough love” lifestyle put forth by so many, also known as the “I can’t say anything because…” Sometimes, there are situations in which we are called upon to take a stand, draw a boundary, or even ‘tell a harsh truth, wanting ten more times to tell a loving lie,’ to paraphrase a quote by Robert Brault. Compassion is not enabling. However, I firmly believe that those times are much fewer than what we may think. The encouragement I spoke of, above, comes in realizing that we can be builders instead of wreckers. We can uplift people instead of tearing them down. We can help instead of hurt, and when all else fails, we can choose to keep our bloody mouths shut instead of criticizing. (OUCH!! The author took a hit on that one. No pedestals here!)

I close with this poem, taken from the book God’s Minutes, and written by Carmelo Benvenga. May it come to your mind as it has to mine, and remind us all that we have a choice every minute of every day; the choice to be a Builder or a Wrecker.

God bless, today, my friends.

I watched them tearing a building down, a gang of men in a busy town. With a “Ho, heave ho!” and a lusty yell, they swung a beam and a sidewall fell.  I asked a foreman, “Are these men skilled, and they kind you would hire if you were to build?” He laughed and said, “Why no, indeed, just common laborers are all I need. They can easily wreck in a day or two what builders have taken years to do.”

So I said to myself as I went on my way, ‘What part in the game of life do I play? Am I a Builder, who builds with care, thoughtfully measuring with rule and square? Am I shaping my deeds to a well-made plan, patiently doing the best I can? Or am I a Wrecker, who walks the town – content with the labor of tearing down?’

 

An encouragement that “You are enough!” courtesy of The Minimalists

Today did not start off well. I was already stressed from an outside situation, and began a conversation with my wife that in reality, should never have taken place at that particular time.

Yeah – stop laughing, any of you out there who are married and have done the same thing with YOUR spouse. You know where this is going. 

Predictably, it didn’t go well, and resulted in (a) my being even more stressed and (b) a sincere apology from me to my wife for being a knucklehead. (Or, as I said to her, “I knew better but did it anyway. You couldn’t have said anything right then that wouldn’t have sounded wrong to me.” Hey, it happens. I have feet of clay, you know? Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the fact that my wife doesn’t take a blunt object to me, sometimes? 😉 ) However, after she left for work, I sat and ran over it in my mind with an attitude of “What went wrong?” and I realized that an old enemy had sneaked back into the picture – one that I thought I had vanquished and sent screaming off, wailing on his way to rotting Hell long ago – Mr. “Let Me Explain!”  (cue dramatic music) 

…well, that sounded bloodthirsty, didn’t it? I’ve been reading the original Conan the Barbarian novels, and I think it rubbed off a bit. I digress.

The conversation had gone downhill because, to me, she had not “understood” where I was coming from and so I began to try and explain. The more I tried to explain, the more muddled it got. The more muddled it got, the more frustrated I got, and the harder I tried. The vicious circle came around and bit me square on the backside, and HARD.

It was then that I ran across this post, dealing with that very subject, which I now link here: http://www.theminimalists.com/explain/ What grabbed me, in particular, in that post were these two ideas:

1.The people who require an explanation probably won’t understand you, anyway. You can’t control what they think. (Emphasis mine)

2. The people who are close to you, important to you and understand you don’t need an explanation because they already get you – because you are enough.

It ended with a very freeing statement – “If you want to explain yourself, go ahead. It’s ok to do so. Just don’t feel obligated to. You don’t have to waste your time.”

Strangely enough, the more I looked into the subject, the more I found those same ideas expressed, time and time again. It hit home with me, mainly because I had dealt with this in the past, and then had gotten lazy and started doing it again. Friends, none of us, unless we are in a court of law, MUST give an explanation for our actions. (Though I would offer this caveat – if you’re dealing with your spouse, a law enforcement officer or your boss and they have a legitimate reason for asking, I’d do it. I’m not advocating arrogance, here.) The fact that someone doesn’t understand you, or what you do, or why you do it does not obligate you to MAKE them understand, or even try, for in fact you cannot do so. It goes back to not being able to control what others think. If they understand, then fine. If they don’t, then fine. Each of us is different. We are all on different journeys in life and, as such, there will always be things that we truly cannot understand about others, nor can they about us.

AND THAT’S ALL RIGHT. 

The Boot of Truth? You are not obligated to explain things to others, nor to make them understand. Be who you are. If you, like me, realize that you have a need/desire/want to always explain, always try and make sure others understand – take heart in the fact that you don’t have to, and let this be the first step. Do the research, do the checking, and free yourself. It may be painful, and you may lose people who aren’t willing to accept you as someone who sets a boundary and says, “No, I’m sorry but I can’t make you understand,” but in the end it will be worth it.

YOU are enough! 

God bless today, my friends!

 

 

A brief, but encouraging thought for today on being yourself

I don’t know how well you can read the image that I have included with this post, but I also have put it here, in case it’s not very clear. Why? Because it’s important, that’s why. It was one of those “jaw dropped open and I felt like I’d been slapped RIGHT upside the head” moments for me, today. Do they suck, sometimes? Yeah! Growing as a person does, many times. Would I change it or not have those moments happen? NO WAY. I’ll be willing to keep learning and growing as long as the Good Lord sees fit to keep bringing things my way. Here’s the image:

Dont chase 2

 

I can’t say it any better than that, so I won’t. Stop chasing people, whomever they may be, or whatever the interest. Stop crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump a puddle for you. Life is too short. I immediately thought of two people I had known, both female, one of whom I was obsessed with and whom I pursued across Hell’s Half Acre, even though it was a complete waste of time and ultimately ended up being a nightmare, and one who, to this day, is still quietly my friend and whom I never paid the attention that was deserved, as the friend she was.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to contact that second person, ask her forgiveness and, God willing, make it right. If there’s someone like that in your life, I hope you are compelled to do the same.

God bless, my friends.

 

I’m back – and a reminder to “Say it now!”

Hello all! Thank you to those who have been checking The Takedown in the interim of relative silence, post wise, and those who keep coming back faithfully when a new post pops up from yours truly. Things have been quite busy on this end, but the time had come for a new post, and here it is.

I have in my possession a book given to me in 1977 by my aunt (yeah, I know that makes me fairly old by a lot of standards but hey, getting old is a privilege, and one denied to a lot of people, so I don’t mind!), the title of which is God’s Minutes. In it a story is read of a group of children who go to a florist to buy flowers for their friend, Mickey. In true heartstring-tugging fashion, you find that the boy had been killed in a traffic accident, and the children wondered if they could buy a nice bouquet of yellow roses with their collection, which was some eighteen cents. The florist, of course, agrees, and the children sorrowfully march off with their flowers to give them to their deceased playmate.

The story ends on a note, however, that is the subject of this post. It ends by saying that the saddest thing is that Mickey would never know the love being shown to him, nor of the care and affection of his friends. They were showing it, sadly, after he was gone. It ends with this poem, which I can say honestly has come to my mind from time to time, since first reading this book after it was given to me (I was 7 at the time):

I’d rather have one little rose from the garden of a friend, than all the choicest flowers when this weary life will end. I’d rather have one pleasant word in kindness said to me, than flattery when my heart is still, and life has ceased to be. I would rather have a loving smile from friends I know are true, than tears shed ’round my casket when to this world I bid adieu. Bring me all the flowers today, whether white or pink or red – I’d rather have one flower now than a truckload when I’m dead. 

Friends, our life can be busy and, thanks to our technological connections, it gets busier all the time. We’re connected by email, text, cell phone, Facebook,  Twitter, and a hundred other things that keep us in constant touch; yet how often do we take the time, one human being to another, to truly let those who matter to us know that they do? All too often the story told of here plays out in reality; the platitudes, the love, the caring is shown after the person has died, while in life they may have never known or realized that they had those who felt that way about them.

Don’t let the Mickey in your life leave this world without knowing. Don’t worry about “Oh I’ll look foolish,” or “Oh, I’m far too MANLY to show my heart like that,” or even worse “I don’t need to say it – he/she/they already know it.”

Tell them. Bring those flowers today. Do it now, while you have the chance. Believe me when I tell you, it makes a difference and, as one who has been on the receiving end of that type of statement at the bedside of a friend who would shortly thereafter die, it can literally change your life. 

Do it today. God bless, my friends.