Truth Be Told

Truth Be Told

Days 21-25

Lent 2019

 

Truth and authenticity are often synonyms for each other… with one exception.  We expect others to be honest and consider that when they are, they are being honest.  It becomes a different story when we apply that to ourselves.  I haven’t checked every list of synonyms but you seldom see integrity as a synonym for authenticity.  When we live honestly, we live with integrity and yet, somehow, that isn’t considered being authentic.  I wonder why.

 

We can grow nothing within ourselves if we are not truthful with ourselves.  My plants in my garden outside have no chance to thrive and survive if I am not honest about their needs and my response to that.  Our selves need the same thing.  Here is where our gardening to grow a better self can get a bit uncomfortable.

 

You may be surprised to learn that so-called experts do not agree on what truth is.  Even the words that mean truth have varied meanings, everything from unconcealment to steadfast, faith to agreement, trust to pact.  Throughout history, truth has meant that which was revealed but also that which a majority of those present agreed to consent.  In real life terms, truth might be discovering the sun will rise on the horizon at dawn but it could also mean that if those present on the shore agreed that the sun was not really the sun but the moon, then the new day would become the beginning of the night, a pact with one accord having been made.

 

Confused?  Me, too.  Truth is risky and tricky.  It is also absolutely essential when we are dealing with ourselves.  The Greek sage or wise man Chilo lived somewhere around 560 BCE.  He advised us to “Prefer a loss to dishonest gain; one brings pain for the moment, the other for all time.”

 

American president and writer Thomas Jefferson once claimed “Honesty is the first chapter of the book of wisdom.”  This is especially true in writing our own stories.  Yesterday I asked you to dream of a better self.  We cannot expect to turn those dreams into reality without being honest with ourselves.

 

I will not presume to know what you have been hiding from yourself.  You know it all too well.  Ripping off that veil of dishonesty can be painful.  Trust me, I know.  I am still in the process so please do not assume I think I know it all or have achieved it all.  I am a simple traveler on life’s road. Take some time and review your best moments.  Then think about what you really want the world to remember you as long after today.  Do you only want to be seen as dressing in the current fad or do you want to have a legacy that lives on after our earthly visits are done?

 

Marcus Aurelius, a Roman of ancient times and favorite of mine, has some great words of truth we should all remember as we strive to better ourselves.  “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”

 

Only you can determine your truth.  Only you can write your story.  We all have those supporting cast members in our lives and sometimes we seem to lose control, unsure of our next moves or lines to say.  Truth must have trust.  I believe in you.  I hope you believe in yourself enough to be honest with yourself.  I agree with Martin Luther King, Jr:  “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”

 

Maybe today was not your best day.  I have had an entire week like that, quite honestly.  I stumbled and bumbled; was embarrassed and dejected.  Through it all, though, I kept going.  I learned and laughed and today, I am better for having lived my worst week technologically in a long time.  There will be another “worst week”; life is like that.  However, with honesty of self, I live a life of integrity.  That is what I call winning.

A Relevant, Relatable Life

A Relevant, Relatable Life

Day 20

Lent 2019

 

Not having been there at the time the Beatitudes were originally said, I do not know for sure why they were ever spoken.  However, I think it safe to surmise that they were felt to be pertinent and important for the audience to hear.  While they were uttered almost two thousand years ago, I do think they are still relatable.  Today, I am reposting a guest post, written by a college student several years ago.  In it this student explains why the Beatitudes are just as pertinent today as when they were first spoken.  Life was messy then.  Life is messy now, regardless of who we are, just as it was when I first posted this and when the Beatitudes were written.

 

“Sometimes I just can’t relate to the Bible. To be clear, I like the Bible. The stories are engaging, scandalous, and funny (well, if you can decipher 1st century humor), with good morals and memorable characters. So while I do like the Bible, I don’t always feel like I can relate to it. I have little in common with the authors: kings and prophets sent to inspire the masses with divine intervention when things got rough. I don’t know about you, but I’m no prophet.

 

“So while I do like the Bible, often when I read it I do so as though I would read a novel about Afghanistan or an article about outer space: an interesting story about a different world that I will never see. The story may be real, but it is very far away, the people are not like me, and the surroundings are not familiar—while I may have sympathy, I cannot have empathy. It is like a news report that I read, murmur a judgment on, and discard, already forgotten, as I move on to the next. However, in today’s passage from Psalm 44, the saints and martyrs with whom I have nothing in common are gone. In their place is a scared, lonely, confused individual, someone who is struggling to understand why God is so silent while they are suffering. This is a very human passage written by a very vulnerable human. This is a passage I can relate to.

 

“Lent is a funny time, but it is necessary. We spend so much of our lives pretending that everything’s okay, masking our pain and confusion, thinking that everyone else seems to have life figured out, so we should, too. However, I believe that it is in being truly vulnerable that we find our greatest strength. It is in letting others see just how scared, lonely, and confused we really are that we allow them to do the same. Once we let each other in behind the walls of confidence and brave faces only then can we truly begin to build each other up, to rely on each other. If you get a chance these next 40 days of Lent, be vulnerable. It’s scary, and uncomfortable, and takes far more faith than you would imagine. It’s what Lent is all about. Be vulnerable. After all, isn’t that something we can all relate to?”

 

Often in our daily living we try to pretend we are not vulnerable.  It is that very vulnerability, though, that makes us relatable and relevant to one another.  Nobody has a perfect life because… well, no one is perfect.  We all go through our daily chores and interests stumbling at times.  Like I said in the introduction today, life is messy.  It always has been and probably will be forever.

 

I think the Beatitudes are pertinent because they are words we can all relate to and understand.  They speak of misery, of pain, of unfulfilled goals and yet, within each of those things, there is hope and a reason to forge ahead through life’s messes.  Few of us are kings or queens and even fewer prophets and yet, we all get scared, lonely, discouraged.  By keeping our faith and focus on living a generous and compassionate life, we can find the strength to carry on with our living and discover success.  More on the treasure hunt of life in the next post.  Until then, be vulnerable.  It helps us relate one to another and live the best we can.  It is something we all find relatable.

 

From Victim to Victorious

From Victim to Victorious
Day 19
Lent 2019

Often to invading armies, the residents of the lands to be occupied are portrayed as potential enemies. They almost always are deemed to be threats to the continued existence of whatever regime has ordered the attack. The Romans probably had little idea of who they were conquering when they invaded Britain and Ireland. The Celtic and Druid culture centered on their pagan gods and goddesses and magic was an integral part of their beliefs, a magic that the Romans believed came not from good but evil. The Romans destroyed the Celtic and Druids’ religious sites and when Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, many Britons converted.

It was to this culture that a child named Patrick was born. He was born a Roman citizen to parents Conchessa and Calpurnius. The Roman Empire extended from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic Ocean and his home was not near Rome but in the Roman British lands. As a young teen he was kidnapped and forced into child labor by pirates. The life was hard and unfair – the makings for a deep need to extract violence as payback. The exact location is disputed but we know he was an aristocrat, his family second-generation Christians. Patrick was well educated. One fateful day he and his father’s servants were taken prisoner and his life changed dramatically. In an instant he went from living a life of luxury to that of servitude and despair.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for they shall inherit the kingdom.” The first Beatitude seems contradictory and, let’s face it, a bit defeatist. Do I have to be in dire straits to win the prize? Certainly the millions who purchase lottery tickets might argue with that reasoning since seldom do any win. I know of no other human living or deceased whose life portrays this Beatitude better than that of Patrick, the saint whose day was celebrated earlier this month.

It is said that Patrick believed “If I have any worth, it is to live my life, so as to teach these peoples, even though some of them still look down on me.” His life is often celebrated worldwide with the wearing of green, symbolic of the country from which the pirates who enslaved him sailed and the country to which he returned to share his faith and spirituality.

Patrick wrote that he saw his escape in a dream and he did indeed escape and return to his family. He did remain in Britain, however. He would return to minister to the Irish and to share his creed for living. His life remains shrouded in mystery with many things attributed to him, including the banishment of all snakes from Ireland. What is known is that in the midst of his troubles and captivity, Patrick found solace in his beliefs and faith. “I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me: God’s might to uphold me, God’s wisdom to guide me, God’s eye to look before me, God’s ear to hear me, God’s word to speak for me, God’s hand to guard me, God’s way to lie before me, God’s host to secure me against snares of devils, against temptations of vices, against inclinations of nature, against everyone who shall wish me ill, afar and anear, alone and in a crowd.”

You might argue that someone with such conviction was never truly “poor in spirit” and I would understand that interpretation. I would offer, nonetheless, that there were days in which Patrick sorely felt downtrodden and exhausted and in that, his physical spirit did indeed seem poor. We need to recognize that we all have those days. We also need to recognize that other people have them, too.

Patrick of Ireland, as St Patrick is often known, serves to represent to me a living testament of how, although we might be victims of another’s cause, we alone control the effect it has on us. The man known as Saint Patrick, in whose honor many have celebrated with parades and parties, wanted us all to find strength in our faith and beliefs, not mugs of beer. We truly inherit the kingdom when we live with assurance and generosity to all. We also make our own environment by how we react with positivity. We all are victims, at one time or another, of something beyond our control. With conviction, though, we can write a life story that, like Patrick’s, will be victorious, not just for ourselves but for others. When terror strikes the world, it challenges our sense of security.

Connection & Gratitude

Connection to Gratitude

Day Nine

Lent 2019

 

“At the heart of virtue is knowledge of the good.”  This quote is from Timothy Sedgwick, Academic Dean for Academic Affairs and Vice President and the Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics at Virginia Theological Seminary.  Actually Dr. Sedgwick is best known as an Episcopal ethicist, a fact of being that surprises many being.   Not that I mean he should not be known for his standing but that we have such things as ethicists and that they exist within a denomination.

 

Try as I do to keep this blog open for all religions and spiritualities, at some point we must admit to our commonality and the search for that which is good.  To deny such would be, in my humble opinion, denying the existence of life itself.

 

Life is lived in relationship to others.  No matter who you are, what you have, your profession, your status or lack thereof…All life is lived in relationship to others – people, places, things, and the whole of creation.  This is a concept also posited in Sedgwick’s book “The Christian Moral Life”.  One of the more interesting things he discusses, however, is not in the text of the book but in the very first footnote:  “The narrative understanding of ethics as a matter of setting, character, and plot has its origins in Aristotle’s “Poems”.

 

Your life is a narrative, a series of events and your reaction to them.  At each moment in our living, we ask and answer the questions “What do I do?”  “What will I purchase?”  “Where will I go?”  One question leads to another and the way in which we answer them becomes the narrative of our lives.  Our answers to those and other questions signify that life is painful and has recovery.  Why would this be important?  It is important because such is true for all of us – Buddhist, Agnostic, Atheist, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish, Christian, Still-Deciding, Refuse-to-Decide, Spiritualist, etc., etc., etc.  If indeed life is lived in relationship to others, then there will be pain, disappointment, unpleasantness, and even betrayal.   There should also be gratitude.

 

We have, in these past several days discussed gratitude and how being thankful can cultivate a better life for those we encounter and for ourselves.  In essence, we have planted a garden, a garden of self and a garden of gratitude.  Every garden has its pests.  Some arrive blown by the wind but others are intentional visitors.  They plunder the young bulbs out of the earth and disrupt the fragile seeds.  They expose what needs to stay buried and eat what can then never become part of our harvest.  Even the weather can invade our ideal setting of the garden.

 

Life is much the same.  There are those people who seem to want only to destroy our tranquil souls and there are always the unexpected life events that, much like a sudden storm, can turn our lives upside down in an instant.  Taking a few moments for the fine art of gratitude, connecting to those things for which we are thankful, can help us weather whatever life throws at us, whatever so-called “pests” happen to come our way.

 

It is how we connect to these people and events that determines our own  narrative, our own life story.  How we connect to our living determines who we are, what self we have planted and nurtured in our being.  Loss can lead to greater understanding and appreciation if we allow ourselves to learn and grow from it.  In his book “The Moral Christian Life”, Sedgwick describes something he calls the Covenant of Hospitality.

 

‘Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.”  There are many variations of this saying which appears in Hebrews Chapter 13, verse 2.  It is sage wisdom and the very definition of who we are.  How we treat and connect to those who can seemingly do nothing for us speaks volumes as to whom we are as beings.

 

The connections we make in our life are a mirror of our souls.  I am not just talking about the people we know or the charities we may support.  I am talking about the connections we have to our pets, our material possessions, and yes, even our dreams.  Herman Melville wrote about such connections.  “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men; and among those fibers, as sympathetic threads, our actions run as causes, and they come back to us as effects.”

 

John Lennon explained it a little differently.  “A dream you dream alone is only a dream.  A dream you dream together is reality.”  When we connect with the world and everything in it for positive results, then we are truly living the best self and life we can offer.  Lennon wrote: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  Someday I hope you’ll join us…and the world will live as one.”  We need not only to dream but to give thanks.  It will not only help illuminate our own narrative of life, it can change that of a neighbor or fellow treaveler.

 

 

Perfection and Privilege

Perfection  and Privilege

Day Six, Seven, Eight

Lent 2019

 

In the news recently there was a story about how very successful people had made an egregious, stupid error in allegedly cheating the college admissions system to get their offspring into colleges that are considered some of the best in the land.  People at the top of their field had colluded with others also at the top of their fields to cheat the system.  Does this mean that they disliked and distrusted their seemingly perfect lives or is it simply that they themselves doubt their own self-worth or that of their children?

 

This may come as a shock (insert laugh) but I am not perfect.  I am not the most beautiful person on earth or the smartest.  I am, in short, just an ordinary human living among other ordinary people and  I think that is glorious.  We often think of self-love as striving for perfection.  Loving one’s self is simply accepting our humanness and hoping to improve our humanity.  Alexander Pope said “To err is human”.  It might just be the single most important sentence in our human development.  Few would argue with Pope and yet, we often forget that one simple sentence.  We spend our personal reflections hung up on self-criticism.  It may seem like we are trying to better ourselves but by focusing on self-criticism, we simply are living self-defeat.

 

I sincerely hope this does not come as further shock to you but you are not perfect either.  Once we accept that one fact, then we are free to grow and flourish, to bloom in our life’s garden.  In an essay published on Psychology Today’s website, Dr. Emma M. Seppala stated the dangers of being overly critical with ourselves.  “[Self-criticism] keeps you focused on what’s wrong with you, thereby decreasing your confidence.  It makes you afraid of failure which hurts your performance, makes you give up more easily, and leads to poor decision-making.  It makes you less resilient in the face of failure and also less likely to learn from mistakes.”

 

Research illustrates how we can become our own worst enemy.  Men and women respond differently to unsuccessful ventures.  Men tend to blame circumstances while women look inward.  Let’s be honest.  Sometimes it is someone or something else that is affecting our success and sometimes it is us.  However, how we respond, regardless of the cause, determines our self-love.  We all have a little voice in our head that talks to us.  Whether you call it a conscience or the echo of a parent, self-talk is a very common phenomenon.  It can be very productive but it can also be destructive.  Do you talk to yourself that same way you talk to your best friend?  Most of us don’t. 

 

Self-compassion is a seldom heard and even less seldom used device for increasing self-love.  Self-love and feeling self-worth is not based upon perfection.  None of us are perfect.  It is based on treating ourselves as a friend.  Researcher Kristin Neff believes self-compassion is the key ingredient towards developing resiliency, a trait I believe imperative to surviving life.  Neff suggests writing a letter to ourselves in times where we think we have made huge errors.  She herself as a personal mantra for those periods of high stress in which self-love is not present:  “This is a moment of suffering. Suffering is part of life. May I be kind to myself in this moment; may I give myself the compassion I need.”

 

Kindness to one’s self is another great tool for improving our feelings of self-love and self-worth.    All too often we spend our time trying to achieve material success while losing sight of the need for creating the soul’s success.  Our inner voice needs to be loving and encouraging, not overly critical.  Stress is not fertilizer that helps us grow.  Once the challenge of stress is met, it can provide some benefits but only if we apply our success, let our inner voice applaud us instead of berating us.

 

Much of the discussion regarding the college entrance scandal has centered on the unfairness children of privilege have in the current system.  If we are to be honest, most of us forget the very basic constructs of our faith in believing people of privilege have an unfair advantage in everything.  I do not come from privilege and I live each day wondering how to pay for the next one.  Yet, our doctrine tells me that I also am a person of privilege – the privilege of being God’s own. 

 

When we accept Alexander Pope’s simple sentence, “To err is human”, and I mean really accept it, then we can blossom and grow internally and in life.  There is a reason we say the general confession – we are not perfect.  Developing self-compassion leads to accepting ourselves for who we are and what we can become.  Once we do that we can then accept others and move the world forward in love.  The potential of each human being is endless!  Self-esteem tends to focus on performance and none of us are going to perform perfectly in all settings in all situations for all times.  Our potential to love, though, is as endless as God’s grace.

 

Perfection is highly overrated.  Life is not about being perfect.  The best life is the one lived with acceptance and joy, the one based not upon the world’s definition of living but upon doing what makes you happy and shares God’s love with others.  We are successful when we pursue what has meaning for us.  Each day is a journey.  Walk your steps today with self-acceptance and show yourself some self-compassion if you stumble.  After all, to err is human but to get back up and try again, trusting in God’s promise… That’s being successful.

 

Value, Love, Intent

Value, Love, Intent

Day Four-Five

Lent 2019

 

What is the value of a human being?  Most cultures in the world, historically and those existing in the period we call now have been at some point in time enslaved.  This is inevitable when kingdoms overtake others, when greed propels mankind into “owning” as much as is possible.  During those periods of enslavement, humans have become commodities.  We may think we live in modern times with enlightened minds but people are still being sold as if they were a loaf of bread.  This is most especially true for females and children.

 

The general assessment for a human life has, for a number of years, been placed at somewhere around five million dollars.  Generally speaking, the cost of life or a life’s potency is the value assigned to a specific living organism based upon the preventative cost of said organism’s death.  However, this determined number is not exact and open to controversy.  For example, the Environmental Pollution Agency or EPA puts the value of a human life at $9.1 million dollars while the Food and Drug Administration or FDA places it at $7.9 million.

 

What I find troubling in all of this is first of all, we base the value of living upon the cost to avoid death.  No consideration is given to what that life might accomplish or the love it will share, spread, or encourage.  The algorithm is solely based upon the cost to society to sustain that life and the life’s contribution to society has no value in the algorithm.  The second troubling issue to me is that very few would or could even pay the five million dollars for someone.  Most people hesitate to donate five dollars to the homeless and yet, it will cost them over five million and maybe up to nine million dollars to keep that person from dying.

 

A reasonably well and mentally healthy person will like being alive.  Hopefully, we all love life but life can be messy and at times complicated.  Most of us love being alive but realize it comes with issues, complications, hurdles to clear, and bumps to survive.  Those alive have families.  After all, none of us was born by spontaneous combustion; we all had at the initial beginning, a mother and a father.  To some the value of a family member is great; to others, negotiable.  Sadly, the core of domestic violence is the fact that one person becomes more valuable and believes they have the power to do anything, no matter how harmful or criminal.

 

“You can’t simply say that every life is infinitely valuable,” said John Mueller, a political scientist at Ohio State University whose work focuses on national security and risk analysis. “That’s just not the way the world operates.”  Mueller is the one, by the way, who arrived at the five million dollar amount for the value of a human being.

 

There are times, other than slavery, when the value of a human life becomes a matter for the courts.  After the terrorist attacks on the two World Trade Towers, monetary appropriations were given to the victims’ families.  Washington attorney Kenneth Feinberg managed the compensation funding for victims’ families of the September 11, 2001 attacks.  Using an algorithm determined by the courts and Congress, Feinberg wrote checks based upon the denied future of the victims.  This meant that a secretary’s family was paid less than a banker’s family, even though the contribution to the family of a mother is arguably more than that of a father who was only home six hours out of every twenty-four.  The same was true for the firefighters and policemen who rushed in to help and were killed for their heroic efforts.  Their salaries were much less than the insurance analysts so their life had less “value” although most had saved lives for several if not many years.

 

Feinberg has very definite opinions about the value of human life.  “In the case of Sept. 11, if there is a next time, and Congress again decides to award public compensation, I hope the law will declare that all life should be treated the same. Courtrooms, judges, lawyers and juries are not the answer when it comes to public compensation. I have resolved my personal conflict and have learned a valuable lesson at the same time. I believe that public compensation should avoid financial distinctions which only fuel the hurt and grief of the survivors. I believe all lives should be treated the same.”

 

We’ve discussed authenticity and accountability but it really all boils down to how honest we are with ourselves.  How truthful are we about ourselves when we are alone and no one is listening or watching?  One of the best things about our pets is their authenticity.  I really doubt my dog wants to be a cat and my cats – well, they are convinced they are at the top of the animal chain of command.  Why would they want to be something else?

 

Because they are authentic, our pets give us unconditional love.  It really is just that simple.  To be authentic has been called a “primal urge”.  Did Neanderthal man want something better than himself?  Well, yeah.  That is why we have made strides in living and why we no longer live in caves and eat raw food.  I honestly am not so sure that being authentic is a primal urge.  I just think animals are comfortable in their own skin and realize that they need to get living as what they are right before taking on something else.  In that way, they are smarter than we are.

 

We’ve all heard the phrase “Practice what you preach” ad infinitum and ad nausea.  What we sometimes fail to grasp is that we need to do it for ourselves in order to gain self-knowledge.  We need to live with intention in order to gain a better self, grow a better version of ourselves.  We need to continually and constantly update ourselves to stay current and effective in our own lives.

 

Lent is a time for intentional living.  You can just be true to yourself and then live with intention.  Oscar Wilde once said “Most people are other people.  Their thoughts are someone else’s opinion; their lives a mimicry; their passions a quotation.”  Live YOUR life today. Be yourself.  Walk your own path to personal fulfillment.  Let the voice you hear be YOUR voice.  I bet it’s gonna be beautiful!

 

During Lent we often engage in discussions of love and self-love.  Lent is a liturgical season for talking about “growing” ourselves.  Love is certainly the fertilizer and food that enables that process.  Our first step has been to discuss self-worth.  Your life has value, probably ten times any number that an algorithm can determine.  However, if we do not love ourselves and allow ourselves to be loved, then we are killing our garden before it has a chance to blossom.  I hope today you will love yourself today and have faith in the value of your living.

 

 

 

 

Engage and Touch

Engage and Touch

Day Two & Three

Lent 2018

 

I am a reader (and that is an understatement!) and as such, I connect with some of my favorite authors via social media.  I have always found the struggle they discuss to name a book interesting.  I never really understood the struggle they faced to find a title; that is, I never understood it until now.  In writing these posts I usually begin with a title and then elaborate on that title in the body of my work.  For example:  This post is part of a subset within a series.  It comes following a post discussing self-worth.  Its subject matter is supposed to illustrate how we use our perceived self-worth.  In other words, how we feel about ourselves determines how we act, how we engage others in our lives and the “touch” we make and leave on another.

 

I firmly and completely believe that the most important things we will ever do in our lives are primarily centered on how we treat people.  What we do is based on what we believe we can do.  Before we attempt anything, we must first believe it is possible and that we can achieve it.  The title above, “Engagement and Touch” seemed both timely and on topic as well as self-explanatory.  It met all of the criteria of a title and yet, I did not really like it.  Why?  I guess because I thought a better title would be that which describes what stops us from engaging with others and making a difference, touching others with our own self-worth.  However, this is the title I finally decided upon using.

 

When we feel good about ourselves, we feel powerful and capable.  The explorer is willing to begin the journey because he/she feels capable of surviving whatever may come.  A scientist is willing to work the experiment because he/she understands the process and the value in both success and unexpected results.  The carpenter understands the wood and his/her tools and that confidence builds and transforms a block of wood into a work of artistry.  The physician trusts his training and experience and so has no problem opening up one of the most complex systems known to man, the human body.

 

It is in living, though, that the real challenge comes into play – the challenge to live a good life.  We must reach out to “touch” our neighbors on this planet.  Sometimes that “touch” is a figurative touch that offers support and sometimes it is a literal touch that provides comfort.  It should never be a harmful or painful touch.  We do not fully live until we are engaged in living.

 

The Reverend Russell H. Conwell was once the minister at Grace Baptist Temple in Philadelphia, PA over a century ago.  The church at that time met in a cramped building and often more people came than could fit in the space available.  There were always more children who wanted to attend the Sunday School than the space could accommodate.  One of the children who often was left in the crowd outside was Hattie May Wiatt.  The Rev Conwell visited Hattie and her family at their home one day as a means of apology for their being unable to gain admittance to services.  During the visit he described his hope for raising funds to construct a building large enough for everyone.

 

Hattie May applauded this dream of a place where children could go to learn, the future Temple Sunday School.  She secretly began saving what pennies she could and looked forward to seeing the minister’s vision become reality.  Unfortunately, Hattie became ill and passed away.  The family gave the Rev Conwell a handmade purse they found among Hattie’s things.  Inside were fifty-seven pennies and a note: “To help build Temple Sunday School so more children can go.”  Rev Conwell showed his congregation Hattie’s fifty-seven pennies and asked them to believe as Hattie had.  Touched by the little girls’ endeavors, the congregation became engaged in the vision of a new building.  Hattie’s original fifty-seven pennies were sold.  Her fifty-seven cents became two hundred and fifty dollars.  The congregation took that money, converted it into pennies, and sold them.  They purchased land next door and the subsequent engagement of the congregation became not only a new church but the seed money for Temple University’s Hospital and School of Medicine.  Hattie believed in her own self-worth and that of Rev Conwell.  Look at what that positive self-worth accomplished and continues to accomplish today!

 

So why don’t we all make such great efforts?  Why my dilemma with the title of this post?  The answers are just one word…Doubt.  Doubt is our over-thinking; our enemy that manifests itself as worry.  Doubt is not a new human condition.  Buddha offered advice about it between the sixth and fourth centuries BCE.  “There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt.  Doubt separates people.  It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations.  It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.”

 

Today I invite you to take five minutes and list your most pleasant memory and then your happiest activity.  Each of those required skills.  Focus on those skills and talents and realize that they are things you have.  Celebrate that, please.  I am pretty certain you probably have another great memory or activity with even more skills.  Recognizing those increases and helps build your own self-worth.   You have much to offer and the world is waiting for you to offer.  We need you!  Turn your back on doubt.  It serves no purpose.  Focus on the positive and let your self-worth be the seed currency for a better you.  Engaging in life and touching the lives of others helps us grow and flourish.  Remember, we do not fully live until we are engaged in living.