So many people take sides. We take sides based on who we like, or who we don't. We take sides based on what we hear, or what we are told. We take sides because we only know part of the story. It is too easy to judge based on which side you hear. It is too easy to be in the wrong, when we don't value someone enough to listen.
I love the story of Solomon and the baby. Two women went before his judgment seat. They had both had a baby. One of the babies had died and one lived. Both women claimed the living baby was their own.
After some deliberation, King Solomon called for a sword to be brought before him. He decided that there was only one fair solution: the living son must be split in two, each woman receiving half of the child. Upon hearing this terrible verdict, the boy's true mother cried out, "Oh Lord, give the baby to her, just don't kill him!" The woman who lied, in her bitter jealousy, exclaimed, "It shall be neither mine nor yours—divide it!"
The king declared the first mother as the true mother, as a true, loving mother would rather surrender her baby to another than hurt him, and gave her the baby. King Solomon's judgment became known throughout all of Israel and was considered an example of profound wisdom.
Both women wanted to be right, but one was willing to be wrong in order for the baby to live. King Solomon was able to listen to both sides of the story and reach a fair and just decision. What an example for the rest of us.
No matter what we believe, or how much we hurt, or what has happened to us, there are always two sides to every single story. Often, both sides have hurt and heartache. When we jump to conclusions and judge, we risk never finding out the truth. We risk supporting others in their lies and jealousy. We risk condemning the wrong party.
How grateful I am that the only person I have to worry about judging me is the Lord. He alone knows my thoughts and my heart. He knows my innocence and even my guilt. He knows everything about me, including why I am the way that I am. With Him on my side, I don't have to worry so much about the opinions of others. With Him in my Heart, I know that the truth will someday come out and that, in ways I don't yet understand, All will be well.
So, for now, my prayer is that we will all learn to listen to the story in it's entirety and not just one side of it.
A temper can be a terrible thing to unleash on someone else. I have learned in my life, that although physical abuse hurts, the words said in anger are the ones you never forget. Sometimes, working with the public stretches my temper to the limits. People are not always nice to one another. I can't change the way anyone feels about the Post Office, but I can change the way my office treats any of the customers who walk through the doors. I have learned that if you "kill them with kindness", you are really killing enemies and making new friends. People usually respond better to kind words than to aggressive posturing.
How beautiful is it to respond with kindness when someone is expecting you to be enraged. I wish I could say that I never spoke an angry word, but I would certainly be lying through my teeth! I can say that I am better now than I used to be, but not as good as I would like to be.
My goal is to get to the point in my life where I never find it necessary to raise my voice in anger. I am trying to learn to channel it a little bit better.
We all have times in our lives when things change, when they need to change. We all wonder where we are going to start, or how we are possibly going to finish. When we look at the entire prospect of change, good or bad, we can be very overwhelmed. But when we start just one step at a time, we begin to feel hope that we just might get through this.
We start out with so much hope! When we are children, we believe that tomorrow is going to be a better day. We believe that everything will work out. We believe that things are simple and that we are nearly invincible. We begin our lives with hope. Hope that we will be loved. That we will grow and be nourished.
We grow up with our hopes and dreams getting squished and moved around in our hearts. Life can suck the hope right out of you if you let it.
We grow up with fairy tales and happily ever afters in our thoughts and dreams. Most of the time, reality does not quite live up the the illusion, and if it does, it is usually after great trials that we find those blessings.
It can be hard to find hope in the world today. Hard to find it when you heart is aching, when you are exhausted, when you are stressed, and when you don't know how you are going to pay the bills because you just lost your income.
Hope is that little voice inside your head that tells you to try again tomorrow, hope reminds you that all is not lost, hope tells you that you are worth loving. Hope begins with every step we take in the right direction.
I have got to love a good Charlie Chaplin quote. Especially this one. Nothing is permanent, even though it feels that way. I know that sometimes things are just hard. We struggle, we search, we wonder, we ask, we seek, we ache, we cry, we hope, we love. All things in their won seasons and at their own times. But I try and remember this when I am overwhelmed with adversity.
We find friends in the strangest places. People we never knew were going through the same things are we are. We find hope in their courage and convictions. I know that I have felt so filled with sorrow and pain, that I couldn't bear to face it anymore. It just felt too hopeless. I retreat inside myself and try and center. I go to counseling, I go to church, I talk to friends, I keep trying, even though inside, I am so very broken.
Funny thing is, just when I feel as if I can't walk another step or bear another burden, something happens that gives me the courage to continue on. This morning, I discovered someone who has been through many of the heart aches that I have. This person's strength and testimony brought me hope in my own journey. I felt the spirit fill my heart with peace and I know that at this time, in this moment, all is well.
You never know what those around you might be going through. We profess to try and be Christ-like in our lives, but how many judge one another as "bad" or "good"? How many gossip and talk about someone behind their backs. How many mean things do we say in the course of our daily existence.
I have learned, it doesn't matter if you can trace your roots all the way back to Adam, or if you don't know the name of your maternal Grandfather, we are all Children of God. We are all charged to "love one another."
My prayer today is that we will remember the Saviors wisdom when he said, "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone". And the accusers left one by one and did not stay. Then the Savior said to "Go thy way and sin no more". My prayer is that we will stop throwing stones at one another. Stones of anger, hate, unkindness and words. They do destroy. They do cause damage. They destroy hearts and hope and courage. We damage each other so much by the words we choose to speak, by the names we choose to call.
We can also heal the aching by sharing a part of ourselves with others. We can heal by being kind, by showing compassion and love. We can heal the breaking hearts by sharing our own. We can build each other up.
Absolutely nothing is permanent, but I think we can choose to make kindness permanent. We can choose to give a smile, or share a tear. We can choose to help one another.
There is something about a small town fireworks show that just makes you feel good. We celebrate in a big way up here in the White Mountains. Some cities have their fire works on Saturday, and some on Monday. We have parades, barbecues, festivals in the parks and outings at the lakes. I love having a small town type of life.
We are actually known for our fireworks up here. There are no city lights to take away from the bright show. The stars sparkle in the sky and the fireworks light up our own corner of the world.
I loved seeing some of the more unique parts of the show. The spirals and the hearts are a favorites and are the waterfalls. We sat with the firefighters this year, as I had ambulance duty. It was quite the show and one of the best places to sit! We have to be able to get in and out fast, which makes a quick getaway essential.
I loved the red heats that lit up the sky with all the others, of course, no matter how hard I try, I can't get the pictures to do justice to the evening.
I love the 4th of July, but not just the picnics and the families and the fireworks. I love the meaning of it. I am proud to be an American. I am happy to be free. I won't forget those who have fought and died so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we have today. We can disagree, vote, live, forgive and raise our children in freedom and democracy. As much as I don't like the fact that so much of this great land has turned their hearts from our Heavenly Father, I know that this has all be prophesied. As much as I can look around and see great wickedness, I can also look and find peace. I know that God blesses this land of ours. I know that His hands are upon the waters and the earth. I know that we are greatly blessed. God has truly blessed America.
I have felt this way so often in my life. Especially in the past several years. It seems as if I am tossed and turned by every wind that blows by. Often, I feel like I can't possibly survive or escape. I can't find my way out of the darkness that surrounds me. Sometimes, you just have to trust that somehow, it will all work out all right. You have to believe that Someone Else, has your best interests at heart. It can be nearly impossible for me to see and to be patient enough to wait; yet when I do, things change, and I am amazed at the outcome that I never imagined.
Often, those things don't turn out the way I wanted, but they end up being just what I needed. One of the hardest lessons that I ever had to learn is that God does not take away the free agency of another for me. He allows all of us to make our own mistakes. Even when those mistakes affect others in a negative way.
Eyes refuse to see, lips speak angry words, hearts get broken, and still He lets us make our own choices. I have learned that the choices of others can be devastating to me. But just because I hurt, doesn't mean that they don't have the right to choose. And so I wait, and watch and pray and hope. Sometimes I even get to see the change, sometimes I have to let it go, but no matter what happens, I get to choose too.
I choose the power that I give another person to change my life.
I choose what kind of person I will become because of it.
First, we have to take care of ourselves. First, we have to find our own lights. Then, once we are glowing, we can spread that light to others. It seems easy, but it can be so hard.
I love candles. I love the way they flicker and glow and light up a room in the darkness. A long time ago, when I was small, we weren't allowed to play with matches. When the lights went out, my mom always lit the house with candles. I even had them in my room, but the only way that I was allowed to light it, was to hold the wick next to one that was already lit.
I would get so excited to see the light I was holding flicker into life with the flame from my mother's candle.
Her light spread to me. My light would flare to life and grow because of her one small flame. So it is in life. Our lights grow as we share them with others. Our testimonies become stronger, our faith more sure, our lights more bright. When we share, we are not weakened, we are strengthened.
As I struggle in my own life, I find that I am strengthened by sharing my thoughts and feelings with those around me. We might not always see eye to eye, but we can always share heart to heart and light to light.