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A Prayer

Don’t Be A Jerk

Don't Be a Jerk Pic

Life is Short. People are Hurting. Don’t be a Jerk.

By John Pavlovitz
I walked around today and I looked at people; those passing me in the grocery store, driving beside me on the highway, filling my newsfeed, walking by the house. I tried to really see them.
I tried to look beneath the surface veneer they wore; to imagine the invisible burdens they might be carrying beneath it: sick children, relational collapse, financial tension, crippling depression, profound grief, crisis of faith, loss of purpose-or maybe just the custom designed multitude of the nagging insecurities and fears they’ve been carrying around since grade school and have never been able to shake.
As I looked at all these people, I wondered what kind of specific and personal hell they might be enduring, and it reminded me-so I’m reminding you:
Life is stunningly short and it is eggshell fragile.
Most people are having a really tough time.
They are almost always in more pain than you think they are. Everyone is doing the very best they can to get through this day, and many are going through all manner of horrors in the process.
No one is immune from the invasive collateral damage of living.
And you don’t have to save these people or fix them or give them any special treatment.
They are rarely asking for such things.
The only thing these wounded and weary human beings need from you as you share this space with them – is for you to not be a jerk.
It’s really that simple.
They need you to not contribute to their grieving, not to compound their sadness, not to amplify their fear, not to add to their adversity.
They need anything less than contempt from you. They need you to embrace the vow of doctors and caregivers, of trying to do no harm to them.
This isn’t difficult, either.
Actually, when it comes right down to it, not being a jerk is about as elementary as it gets:
Don’t impose your religious beliefs on other people.
Don’t demand that they adapt to your preferences of identity or orientation.
Don’t try to take away things that keep them physically healthy or give them peace of mind or allow them access to education or opportunity.
Don’t put obstacles in a parent’s way of caring for their children or working to support them or guiding them safely into adulthood.
Don’t tell people who they can marry or how they should worship or where they can call home.
Don’t do things that make them more vulnerable to sickness and sadness and stress.
Don’t try to keep people from having things that you take for granted.
Strangely enough, it’s actually so much more work to be a jerk to people – and yet, so many seem hopelessly bent on it. Right now in America, we are seeing what happens when people discard the Golden Rule; when they abandon simple decency and choose enmity; when they feel compelled to show cruelty to strangers; when another’s sorrow is of no concern.
On social media, in our school hallways, in our neighborhoods, even in the highest levels of Government, we are seeing an epidemic of malevolence; men and women seemingly driven to be hurtful and to do damage – human beings compelled to be jerks.
Friends, I wish I could find a more eloquent, more poetic, less abrasive way to say this, but I can’t. At the end of the day, so many of the grieving, struggling, fearful human beings filling up the landscape you find yourself in today, are hanging by the very thinnest of threads.
They are heroically pushing back despair, enduring real and imagined terrors, warring with their external circumstances and with their internal demons.
They are doing the very best they can, sometimes with little help or hope – and they just need those of us who live alongside them to make that best-doing a little easier.
These words are for me.
They’re for you.
They’re for ordinary people.
They’re for our elected leaders.
They’re for our President.
Life is short.
It is extremely fragile.
People are grieving.
They are struggling.
They are hurting.For God’s sake and for theirs – please just don’t be a jerk.
Thank you to John Pavlovitz for this article.

More from John can be found at: Stuff That Needs To Be Said. 

Will You Join Me?

Last year before the election, our First Lady Michelle Obama, talked about the lessons she and President Obama tried to instill in their daughters and of how they recognized the awesome responsibility they held as role models for all of America’s children.

“How we urge them to ignore those who question their father’s citizenship or faith. How we insist this hateful language they hear from public figures on TV does not represent the true spirit of this country. How we explain that when someone is cruel or like a bully, you don’t stoop to their level.”

Then, with a firm, clear, grounded, dignified resolve, she spoke these elegant and memorable words:

“When they go low, we go high.”

Like most Americans, I am appalled when I watch the character of our country being dragged through the mud. I am ashamed of those “leaders” who violate the dignity of their political office with vulgarity, lies and lewd sexual aggression on women.

I am thoroughly disgusted with the hate, the bigotry and the sociopathic support for the rich while the disadvantaged and disabled get pushed to the curb. I find it reprehensible when Nazism is not immediately condemned. All of these behaviors and many more must be severely rebuked.

Like most Americans, I feel the toxic poison in the air and within myself as well. In turn, I want to hate these narcissists who are willing to sell America’s soul and spirit for their own selfish greed. I want to snap back at the TV and yell obscenities, but if I do, then I succumb to the despicable behaviors I deplore. I believe we are all being called to play a much bigger game.

As we enter the New Year, I invite us all to emulate the remarkable Michelle Obama, to disconnect from any ignoble, negative reactions, and simply respond in a way that will rebuke the insidious actions without allowing them to consume us with the same hatred. When they go low, let’s you and I vow to go high!

We must intend to do our very best to stay alert and never give in to allowing any form of this morally corrupt way of governing to become the “norm”. We are so much better than all of this. We must speak truth to lies, reality to conspiracies, kindness to hate and we must never, ever, ever, be discouraged or give up.

It takes a lot of courage and stamina to not only walk the moral high ground, but to maintain it, especially in the face of continuous deceit and attack. We can get weary of it all and certainly I recognize the desire to just give up . . . and that is exactly what they are counting on. But this is when we must pass the test, rise up and step forward once again with firm conviction and everlasting commitment. Remember . . . our children are watching . . .

As we enter this New Year, perhaps this saying will inspire you as it does me:

“Do not be discouraged by the brokenness of the world.

All things break. And all things can be mended.

Not with time, as they say, but with intention.

So go, love intentionally, extravagantly, unconditionally.

The broken world waits in darkness for the light that is you.”

L.R. Knost

The only prayer we ever need to say is . . .

Thank You

“Thank You” is the only prayer we ever need. We need to say it frequently throughout the day, about everything. It’s an abundant world and it’s meant to work and we need to connect with that abundance and constantly look for all the reasons we have to be grateful.

We need to focus all our attention and energy on the many gifts we have in our lives, from the most simple like the gift of a new day which gives us the fresh opportunity to begin all over again to live, love, laugh and learn – to the grand, like a life that’s overflowing with good health fortune, family and friends.

Occasionally, life throws a curve ball and some days can be very difficult and painful. But if that happens to you, set aside the complaints, the angers, fears and sadness. It’s not always easy, but see if you can put them on the back burner with the knowledge that you can bring them back any time you choose. Then take in a deep breath and find the one positive thing you can hold on to for that one moment and that one day. Focus on the one thing you are grateful for and breathe life into it.

If you can’t run, be grateful you can walk and say, “Thank You”. If you can’t walk, be grateful you can talk and say, “Thank You”. If you lost a loved one, be grateful for the good memories and say, “Thank You”. If you are alone, be grateful and say, “Thank You” for the chance to quietly connect with yourself, universal energy/God. If you judge yourself harshly, look within and find your Inner Child who needs your encouragement and understanding, find that vulnerable self who reminds you to love and accept and say, “Thank You”. If you have a problem of any sort, remember there is always a solution and say, “Thank You”.

The greater the gratitude, the more you will have to be grateful for. Abundance will grow and grow until your heart is filled and overflowing with peace, acceptance, trust and love. Look for abundance to come into your life in the most amazing ways and you will soon realize that the things you put on the back burner will soon begin to disappear. Then you will truly be free.

I Thank You for being in my life. I am enriched by every person I meet and I am changed by every person with whom I interact, whether I am aware of it in the moment or not.

This Thanksgiving, I give special thanks for whatever we have shared together. Some of you have allowed me to enter your lives in deeply personal ways, while with others, our contact may have been brief. In fact, some of you are friends I haven’t met yet. Regardless of the nature of our relationship, I am grateful for your presence in this world and that we peacefully share our beautiful earth together. . . and I say. . .

Thank You!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Your Spirit Awakens


“You must let go of who you were to become who you are meant to be.”

Your Spirit Awakens

In out of the way places of the heart

Where your thoughts never think to wander,

This beginning has been quietly forming

Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire

Feeling the emptiness grow inside you,

Noticing how you willed yourself on

Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety

And the grey promises that sameness whispered,

Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,

Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled

And out you stepped onto new ground,

Your eyes young again with energy and dream

A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear

You can trust the promise of this opening;

Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning

That is one with your life’s desire.

Awake your spirit to adventure;

Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk

Soon you will be home in a new rhythm

For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

John O’Donohue

Poet, Philosopher, Priest

 

Thank you to my good friend 

Sharia Pierce for sharing this poem with us.

Good Advice for Life

Good Advice for Life

The following was written by Mary Schmich, journalist for the Chicago Tribune – an essay she said she would give as a commencement address, if she was ever asked to give one.

 

Ladies and gentlemen of the Class of xxxx:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proven by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind, you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagined.

Don’t worry about the future. Or, worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blind side you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don’t waste time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know, didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know, still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body and respect it. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re the best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave it before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave it before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain unalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders. Respect your elders.

Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40, you will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy and be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

 

To Give Is To Live

 

 “Every great moral and spiritual tradition points to the truth that in the giving of self, lies the discovery of a deeper self. . .

. . . When the happiness, security and well-being of others become real to us, we come into our own. Creativity, meaning, resilience, health and even longevity can be enhanced as a surprising byproduct of contributing to the lives of others. This is perennial wisdom, and science now says it is so.

Dr. Stephen Post

(Author of Why Good Things Happen To Good People)

The following article was written by Hakim Bellamy for the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers.

To Give is to Live

For generations
we’ve been trying to fill
the holes inside of us and our society
with money.

To tender the chasm
between the haves
and the have nots.

To balance the injustice
teetering on the backs of our history.

To reach that ever so elusive number
that will one day make everyone
one.

If equity had a price tag
we would have paid it already, plus tip.

If humanity was currency
there is more than enough capital
in this room to cover the spread.

We give for a living
to people, places and things
for whom opportunity
might as well be a foreign language.

Philanthropy has been referred to
by theologians and academicians alike
as the moral likeness of God.

And I’m the wrong person to ask about all that,
but I do know
there is a higher something
that doesn’t speak in burning bushes,
but instead, uses people to do its bidding
and its blessing.

To make miracles of each other.

Cashed in our fortune for feathers
so we can be someone’s angel investor
when they’re at their most desperate.

And even though we give and give and give
in a world that seems to only measure our “commitment”
in dollars and cents
the size of our hearts
gift wrapped in year-end reports and 990s

When our theory of change is evidence-based upon the number of smiles on the faces
of the most vulnerable members
of our most vulnerable families…

We measure success
by the diameter of hugs, handshakes and high fives
by the volume of laughter per capita
by the distance to our dreams
and by our honest assessment of
each and every human in our care’s ability
to reach them.

Because intergenerational prosperity
is a “thing” too.

The measure of a society
is how we care … and who we care for.

And who we don’t care for tells us
a lot about ourselves.

But remember that one time…?

We made a promise to stop caring so much about currency
and made care our currency
made service our gold standard
because the ups and downs of our community
deserve our attention
more so than how much the market can bear the bull.

Where our accountability to each other
matches or exceeds our accountability to shareholders
so much so, that even the accountants count them.

Where friend-raising is just as strategic
as fundraising for the fight.

Where “Phil”
Is short for Phillip,
philanthropy and “fill our cups.”

Where “wealth” and “health”
are nothing more than an initial
or letter of inquiry apart.

Where the highway to heaven,
is more of a staircase
to prosperity,
hewn by wingless angels
just trying to make a halo
out of fifteen cents.

Where we are no longer just looking at the need,
but looking for the cause.

Where we may give a fraction
of our possessions, but we unequivocally give
all of ourselves.

Where the first thing that comes to mind
when we hear the word “compensation”
is Ralph Waldo Emerson.

When we wake up every morning
to make a living,
for someone else,
someone who doesn’t share our home,
language, religion, gender, skin color, sexual orientation,
age, ability, nationality, opposable thumb, or last name …

Where we actually make a life
for one another … because the only life worth living
is one worth sharing.

Or as George Eliot said best…
“What do we live for
if it is not to make life less difficult
for each other?”

Thank you to my good friend Betsy Carlucci
for sharing this with us.