Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What a Wonderful World....

"The depths of the human condition should not dim our view of the heights of the human spirit."

--Fred Smith, Jr. 

I sat down on Friday evening to write a blog post and my heart was so heavy that the words wouldn't come. I kept trying to redirect my thoughts and I'd find myself wondering back to the senseless tragedy of the day. I watched the news and the multiple Facebook posts and I found myself getting so caught up in the darkness of it all! There were posts about gun control and God not being welcome in our society and it just went on and on from there. I think that we all need to share our thoughts and feel like the world is listening because you just feel powerless sometimes. It's almost like releasing those thoughts somehow put things into place. 

But, thankfully, in the midst of all of this someone posted something funny that their child had done that day. It wasn't anything hysterical but it was sweet and such a kind reminder of the wonderful spirit of a child. I loved that post and I re-read it probably 10 times. I noticed my focus start to shift to happy things and it reminded me what a blessing that they are. I decided then to celebrate the little lives that were lost instead of focusing on the person that chose to end them. In the multiple online tributes, family members and friends had offered sweet comments or shared a funny story about the children. It was still met with a heavy heart to know that their lives had ended so soon but it was my choice to focus on the joy that they shared while they were here. It seems kind of senseless to not honor that in the only way that we can now. 

I think that we're fooled too often. We're bombarded with how bad the world is and it's a scam. The world isn't bad at all. The world is wonderful and it's absolutely running over with the most awesome people! People who will buy shoes for a random stranger. People who will donate organs to save the life of a person that they've never met. People who will run toward a burning building and not walk out until they know that there's no one else left inside. People who will put their hearts into teaching a child to read or sending a meal home with them because they know that's the only way that they will eat. These are the people that I know. THESE are the people that I see in my day and am blessed for the encounter. It's because there are so many people like this that the random idiot sticks out and becomes "newsworthy" because THAT is the person who is so outside the norm that we all try to understand just exactly how someone gets there. 

When you start to buy into the whole notion of how awful this world is, just look around or ask for help. Watch how many people willingly come to your aid with no questions asked. Open your mailbox that's running over with cards and letters from friends---old and new---who just want to wish you happy holidays. Walk into an animal shelter and watch the volunteers give their time to an abandoned animal. Read the stories of kindnesses given to random strangers whether it's paying for their meal or putting a diamond ring into the Salvation Army collection bucket. Look at the members of our military who put themselves in harm's way every day for our freedom. Think of the families of those military members who sacrifice so that their loved one can serve their country. 

So, the choice is yours regarding the attitude with which you'll see the world or how you'll live your life. Bad things will still happen. You can either focus on the random deviant who hurts people or you can focus on the the wonderful friends, neighbors and smiling strangers that you see every day. There's a story that circulates online that is credited as an old Cherokee legend. It speaks of two wolves that symbolize the conflicted spirit of a child. One wolf symbolizes hate, greed, anger, wrath, etc and one symbolizes goodness, forgiveness, and kindness. When the young child asks the grandfather which wolf will win the struggle, the grandfather tells him that it will be the one that he feeds. The awesome part in this story is that the power is 100% ours regarding which wolf will win for us, too. 

Christmas celebrates the birth of Jesus who displays the ultimate act of forgiveness. Throughout the Bible, he offers grace to those around him and loves without limits. In honor of the precious lives that were lost last Friday, make a choice to live your life the same way. Love without judgement or limits. Forgive easily. Pray for everybody. See everyone with the same worth that Jesus sees them and not with the criteria that we use to judge. Let's open our hearts. Let's close our mouths unless our words can be used not for gossip but to lift someone up. Opportunities are around us every day to perform a small act of kindness so do them in remembrance of someone that's done an act of kindness for you. I'd be willing to bet that you won't have to think very hard to bring an instance to mind where you've been shown grace. Show grace to someone else. When you hear the inevitable comments that come after a tragedy regarding how someone doesn't want to bring a child into "this world", remind them of the beauty and goodness of "this world". Don't resign yourself to buying into the notion that this world isn't good. When we adopt this attitude of thankfulness, gratefulness and remembrance, we make sure that evil doesn't win. 

I'm not known for my seriousness and you can rest assured that the more lighthearted posts will follow but I decided to share these thoughts in honor of all of the victims of the Connecticut tragedy. May we all work to continue to spread the joy that these little souls freely offered and may God bless and comfort their family and friends. 

Merry Christmas!