Have a Little Faith

Good Morning and Happy Monday!

Today’s sermon is Have a Little Faith.  😉

Let’s start with you. At the bottom of each metaphorical hill, do you think you’ll manage to climb it? Most days, we each have faith in ourselves, even if we can’t see exactly how we’ll manage it. After all, getting out of bed some mornings is the biggest act of optimism we have.

Now let’s move on to those you love, your closest family members, by blood, marriage, or otherwise. Do you doubt your loved ones’ ability to rise above, to learn new things, to right yesterday’s wrongs? Of course you do. I remember I cried when our oldest was accepted into college, not because I doubted him, but because we were so happy for him. Even when he doubted himself, we knew he could do it.

Let’s move further out, to those you know but aren’t invested in, like the neighbor who’s up for a promotion, the barista who’s working their way through college or your co-worker’s child, who’s saving for their first car. Do you have faith in their ability to learn, to change, to achieve? Or do you doubt them? Of course you have faith. It costs you nothing and you’re pleased when they accomplish their goal, right?

Up the challenge a bit, though. If the individual in question does something you don’t understand, or worse, don’t like or agree with, do you still have faith that they can rise to the challenge? Or do you focus on their flaws? Many of us focus on the flaws, especially if we’re not invested. We find ourselves expecting the worst. Children misbehave, jerks cut you off in traffic and “those people” always mess with your day. (Notice it’s always “those people” and not “my people” who mess with you.) Maybe you even doubt your own loved one. After all, the last time they were late it was because…. (fill in the blank with whatever awful thing they’d done in the past) …. and why wouldn’t they keep doing something thoughtless? It’s a wonder you bother with them at all, given how horribly awful they are, right? Isn’t the definition of faith seeing something that isn’t proven?

Expecting the worst of people takes no faith. Expecting others to do their best takes tremendous faith, especially if the individual has history. But don’t we all? Don’t each of us want to be measured on what we accomplished today, not what we failed to do yesterday?

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The joy of living in our culture is that we have the power of choice. We can choose to be optimistic, and have faith in each other. Or we can choose to be pessimistic and expect the worst. I choose faith. I choose to see opportunity. I choose to see the value in those around me. This is not because I’m naive or blind to their flaws, or that I’m happy with the consequences if (not when) they fall short. It’s because I don’t want to live in a world where everyone expects the worst of each other. I want to live in a world where we expect the best.

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How about you? Do you choose to have faith? I know many of you do because you’ve shown that you have faith in me. You’ve shown appreciation when I got it right and given me constructive feedback when I got it wrong, even when you didn’t know me well. We’ve grown together as a community and as friends because we have faith in each other.

As we go through challenging political times, I have faith in each of us to find the best, most productive path forward. I have faith that we really are better together, not in spite of our disagreements, but because we know that we are more in common than we are in difference. Even if we have apprehensions, I hope we all have a little faith that we will find our way. If you need a little musical inspiration, here’s is John Hiatt’s Have a Little FaithJohn Hiatt’s Have a Little FaithJohn Hiatt’s Have a Little Faith.

Have a great week!

Caryn

 

Sun Behind the Clouds

Good Morning – it’s been a somber, sad, heartbreaking time as we watched this week unfold. I normally want to motivate us all on Friday to dig deep and find a burst of energy for the last day of the work week. Instead, I can’t help but take a moment as we witness the latest violence with heavy hearts.

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Please join me in reflection:

Do we all want to live full lives, enjoying our freedoms, including to drive without fear of dying as the result of a broken taillight or forgotten turn signal?

Do we want to raise our children to have long, happy, passionate lives?

Do we want to teach them that hate is the answer to awful things?

Or do we want to find ways to bridge our differences and enjoy the rich, colorful, inspiring tapestry of a diverse nation?

I choose to believe that we are inherently good.

I choose to believe that the sun shines no matter that the clouds that obscure it.

I choose to believe that we can have better lives because we are different from each other.

I choose to believe that we are better than this ugliness indicates.

I choose to believe we can make a difference.

What do you choose?

 

Music soothes the savage beast – let’s find a little inspiration to give us hope this morning.

The Staple Singers I’ll Take You There addresses the ugliness in a I-can-make-a-difference style.

Ladysmith Black Mambazo’s Homeless is such a beautiful song, it outshines the ugliness.

Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic is timeless poetry.

The Dixie Chick’s cover of Landslide combines their glorious harmony with Stevie Nicks’s lyrics about rising above.

 

May you have a glorious weekend,

May you find time to hug your loved ones,

May you see the sun behind the clouds and

May you find hope that we will all rise above.

Caryn

Love You Dodo

Love in the age of electronics means being able to laugh at yourself. Seriously. Haven’t you ever sent something by accident – either to the wrong person or typed badly or gotten help from spellcheck? Of course you have. It’s not the mistake that matters, it’s how we react to it that counts. Like wrinkles, it’s our reactions that give us character. They become the evidence of a life well lived.

When I send a text to my husband, I often sign off with an “xoxo”. This is so automatic that I frequently send it to coworkers. Usually, this is when I’m doing too many things at once. (Uhh, that would be anytime I’m doing more than one thing at a time….) Fortunately, it’s a loving mistake. They reply with things like, “love you too, boo” or “awww, that’s sweet”. I even get, “bet you were sending this to Martin” (that’s Dear Husband or DH).

So, now it’s the day before Valentine’s Day and I’m sending a text. I’ve got the recipient right – DH – but not focusing on the keyboard or the blasted spell check. DH is running an errand for me and I meant to send him, “xoxo” By the time I notice “xoxo” has become “dodo”, the text is gone. Poof. Sent and forever in the ether.

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One of the best parts of our relationship is that we laugh. A lot. Fortunately, this is now just another one of those moments. He knew what I meant and he could guess how it happened. Will he forget it? Of course not. Years from now, he’ll be sending me texts like “Love you dodo”. It’ll be an inside joke. It’ll give our relationship a little more depth, another line that defines us, evidence of a love well lived. ❤

How much do you love me?

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Before

 

I was thinking a lot about forgiveness this weekend, after I had a discussion with a retired minister. The conversation started with us discussing something my husband, Martin, did. A couple of weeks ago, when I came home, Martin greeted me with, “How much do you love me?”

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Before

 

Hmmmmmm. As a conversation starter, what does that inspire in you? My reaction was A) What did you buy? or B) What did you do? In this case, it was B; he’d seriously messed up one of my finished pieces (y’all know I knit, right?). It was a gorgeous wool vest that shouldn’t be machine washed because it shrinks – seriously shrinks, as in, fits-a-child-shrinks.

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After, compared to another version that is original size.

 

Anywhoways, the point is, hubby did something and was worried about my reaction. Sweet, right? I couldn’t get mad; it actually made me laugh to look at it. (It also made a bunch of my fiber friends laugh…) And therein lies the point of the discussion with the minister.

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After. Definitely after.

 

She (yes, she; bet y’all thought it would be a he…), she said that this was very forgiving of me, as if it cost me something to not get mad about the ruined vest. I thought differently – it would cost me wayyyyy more to get mad. Here’s why: First, I appreciated that he felt bad (after all, he did ruin it) but I also felt bad that he felt bad. People make mistakes and we need to give each other room to do so without judgment; empathizing with them is part of this and judging others degrades your relationship in my view. And really, what’s more important to you, the relationship or the mistake? Getting angry about it would put the emphasis on the mistake and not on him. Since he’s so much more important to me than any object, it makes sense, right? It also helped that it made me laugh (one reason I married him) and that he didn’t mind when I shared a picture of it with some friends and we laughed ourselves silly. I ask you, did forgiveness cost me or benefit me?

 

Our friend Patrick models the new-and-improved vest, errr, hat.  Whaddaya think?

Our friend Patrick modeling the after version as a hat.         Whaddaya think?

Why this topic, this day? Because today is when we honor the Reverend Martin Luther King, Junior. He’s famous for many things; one of my favorite quotes on forgiveness is his:

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.” – Martin Luther King, Junior.

Not every instance of forgiveness is easy. It’s usually quite difficult but that’s beside the point. Forgiveness is often more about how we think of the world and forgiveness, or a lack of it, affects how we act and how we influence others. If you get a moment today, think about forgiveness. It’s one way to honor Reverend King’s legacy.