Tag Archive | Mother Teresa

THINK about the Gift of Language

Do you hate the political ads on TV as much as I do? Which ad do you hate the most? Is there any ad, from either political party, that you really like?

I’ll be so glad when the election has come and gone and TV can get back to its usual commercials that we can simply ignore, rather than being manipulated into getting angry about the “factual” distortions that are being shouted at us.

political ad cartoonSomething that makes me even angrier than the political ads on TV is some of the political diatribes posted on Facebook. I have FB friends on both political extremes as well as all along the continuum from left to right. The tone of some of their posts is extremely condescending toward their “friends” who hold differing opinions. I’m tempted to unfriend some of them, but then I reconsider, hoping that posts will get friendlier once the election is over. Unfortunately, I’m afraid I may be proven wrong, but I’ll wait and see.

I really don’t believe that God gave us the gift of language so that we could create political ads and Facebook rants.

T-H-I-N-KOur pastor said something in church (MessiahChurch.com) a couple weeks ago that I’m trying really hard to remember. Pastor Jeff said that he and his wife Melissa are trying to teach their kids to THINK before they speak, especially when they are responding to something that irritates them. They need to THINK before speaking – to ask themselves the following questions about what they are going to say:

  • Is it TRUE?
  • Is it HELPFUL?
  • Is it INSPIRING?
  • Is it NECESSARY?
  • Is it KIND?

Those key words form the acronym THINK. (You can watch a 12-minute video of his sermon here – and click on the arrow for the October 19, 2014 Sermon, “Pick the Correct Song!”)

Can you imagine what political ads on TV would be like if the creators of the ads had asked themselves those questions – if they had taken the time to THINK – before creating the ads?

Can you imagine how much kinder your friends’ Facebook posts might seem if your friends would take the time to THINK before they post their comments?

I’m trying to imagine how I might respond differently to friends, acquaintances, and strangers if I would take the time to THINK before communicating my responses to them. Is my comment TRUE? Is my comment HELPFUL? Is my comment INSPIRING? Is my comment NECESSARY? Is my comment KIND?

Thanks, Pastor Jeff, for telling us about the THINK approach to communicating – to THINK before we speak. Your comments were HELPFUL and INSPIRING.

One more thought. To all those questions: TRUE? HELPFUL? INSPIRING? NECESSARY? KIND? I’d like to add the comment, “and the greatest of these is KIND.” That brings me back to my favorite Bible verse of all time. Here it is as I memorized it 60 years ago from the King James Version:

And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. [Ephesians 4:32]

kindness kittenThe most important question for me to ask myself before speaking (or messaging, or posting on Facebook, or blogging, or communicating in any other way) – “Is the comment I am about to make kind to the person who will be receiving it?” If not, let me re-phrase the comment, or maybe even keep quiet.

Language is a precious gift. I guess it’s prudent to THINK before using it.

Kindness - Mother Teresa quote 2

 

 

Attitude

In today’s reading of “The Monastic Way” Joan Chittister, OSB, said, “The attitude we bring to every day will determine the character and quality of that day.”

For me, that’s a timely statement to read on a Monday morning. That’s when I look ahead to everything on my calendar for the week and everything on my to-do list, as I try to plan my week. That’s a task that really needs to be done with a positive attitude.

starry skyChittister continued today’s reading by quoting Oscar Wilde, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

As I look at my calendar for the week I see three significant days coming up – Ash Wednesday, Valentine’s Day, and a “play day.” Regardless of what’s on my to-do list, this should be a very special week. I can see “the stars.”

Last year before Ash Wednesday I took a dozen hymnals down from the shelf and played through all the Lent sections to remind myself of the wonderful church music that has been written for the Season of Lent. I created a songbook consisting of 83 of my favorites from among these hymns and gospel songs and named it, “Songs about the Love of God.” I’m going to add the following item to my to-do list for this week – play through “Songs about the Love of God.” I expect I’ll keep that item on my to-do list for the next six weeks – not because I won’t get it done, but because I’ll want to keep doing it.

Valentines DayValentine’s Day was one of my favorite holidays when I was in grade school. Every year we decorated a great big box and set it on a table in the front of the classroom. On Valentine’s Day, everyone brought valentines for all their classmates and dropped them into the box. In the afternoon we had a Valentine’s party with cake, cookies, and candy. A few students were selected to distribute the cards from the box. We all opened our cards, and then I realized that every single classmate really liked me enough to give me a card. I guess everyone in the class realized that. It probably helped that our teacher had sent a list of classmate names home with us the week before. I remember going through that list and selecting just which valentine I wanted to give to each kid.

Valentine Candy BoxIn addition to the party in school, another thing that made Valentine’s Day extra special was that my brother and I pooled our money to buy our mom a beautiful, heart-shaped box of chocolates – which, of course, she shared with us. I have lots of happy memories of Valentine’s Day.

“Play Day” is something new that Mim and I have started doing a few times a year, when it looks like we both may be having a completely open day on our calendars. Since we started doing assisted living in our home over ten years ago, we are responsible for care giving 24/7. To give ourselves a break, we occasionally schedule at least a six-hour stretch that someone else will be caring for our residents so that we can “play.” That may be going out for lunch, seeing a movie, or shopping for fun (not just for groceries). From 9:00 to 3:00 this Friday is our planned “play day.”

This should be quite a week! In many ways, a mid-winter gift from God.

One more thought to share. Yesterday I read the book, “Great Quotes from Great Women” (compiled by Peggy Anderson, published by Simple Truths, LLC, ©2010). One quote stayed in my mind, and it relates to both attitude and God’s love, apparently the themes on my mind this week. Mother Teresa said,

I am a pencil in the hand of a writing God 

who is sending a love letter to the world.

That quote is packed with meaning. It provides an image that I am going to try hard to remember for Ash Wednesday and for Valentine’s Day, and for many other days, especially days when I need to see the big picture of life, and to think about how I fit into it.

Pencil