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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't Be Offended

I am discovering how many ways one can be offended. Every day that passes there is someone from folks I know who are offended. Its real life, it hurts, it lasts with you, it causes you to react, it interrupts your peace, it impacts your relationship with God and with others. The offending word, phrase, action can come from those who you would least expect to those you might expect. It can happen unknowingly from some and knowingly from others. The result is always the same. Inner pain, a lessening of trust, a re-examination of your own relationship with that individual, emotions emerge and considerations of reaction fill your mind and being. It is not a state you want to be in. Its effects are a barrier, blockage, and burden in your life. It causes your life to detour from those things you could be doing that matter, keeping you from being your true self and a blessing to others.

Not long ago I read an article, “The Fine Art of Not Being Offended”. In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date. In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defenses and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. This type of behaviour is often referred to as psychodynamics. In essence, the offender acts out towards others inappropriately due to the dynamics of conflicts, stresses and tensions that are manifesting within them as a symptom or challenge in their lives. We can have compassion, empathy and also take constructive steps to address the offenses that range from unawareness to outright bullying. These are not easy solutions and we all struggle with how to lovingly work through these challenges in our lives.  

But let’s face it, we live in a world where psychodynamics are commonplace. If we want to live in relationship within our communities of family, friends and associates we really needs to understand that due to the nature and culture of everyone’s psychology we have not yet been offended for the last time. It will happen again and again in our lives and to those we love. God forbid, we at times will be the perpetrator.

“All of that said, almost nothing is personal. Even with our closest loved ones, our beloved partners, our children and our friends. We are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take away the intimacy from our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding. A true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psychodynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing—we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would likely be someone else. This frees us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering—even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface. All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide no Velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world.

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing happens. When we know that our inherent worth is not determined by what another says, does or believes, we can live with the offensive action and an continue to be me. We can walk away without creating more misery for ourselves or having to convince the other person that we are good and worthy people. We can be me.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment, regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of the many skills. Though it may take a lifetime of practice, it is truly one of the best kept secrets for living a happy life.” 
Dr. Shemsi Prinzivalli

Submitted by Kerry Richards

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Unwanted Catalyst

We have all been there. We have been the recipients of unwanted advice and also been the ignored in sharing good intentions, which is the preferred word on the giving end. Unearned, unwanted advice usually only strengthens our resolve to continue along our current path of thinking. We have already made up our minds. Hearing opposing ideas will not change our course. Here is some advice. LOL Being gracious and hearing this unsolicited advice, is not only a good idea, but a prudent one. A poll of over 1300 respondents, shows that 62% do not appreciate unsolicited advice, though 33% concede that they may listen if given by the right person. Except for a little time, listening does not cost us anything and may result in looking at the situation from a fresh viewpoint.

As a transformational people and as a church we respond to a call to be catalysts of change in people’s lives and society. We risk rejection if we do not nurture trust to earn the right to enter into the lives of people.  Unwanted advice is definitely in the eyes of the beholder. We live in a dialogue culture but again there still needs to be a willingness to engage. Being a catalyst had meant interjecting ideas, thoughts and hopefully vision into both the hearts and minds of people and our relationships, but the definition is evolving to alter “interjecting” as if one has the answer, to entering into dialogue with the other, in essence, accepting that I myself will also be informed by the other in our discussion. This is where our acceptance and appreciation of diversity is leading us. Catalysts need to listen, to recognize the worth of individual perspectives and live with others in their worldview and hopefully they in ours but nevertheless we both encounter our diversity in a respectful experience.

About us is a sea of apathy and indifference in everyone. It‘s not that we are rejecting actions that “matter most,” it is that life and its routines take over and fill our days. The remaining time beyond the necessities of work and household is our personal downtime occupied by multi-episode TV shows, lose myself in Facebook hours & entire televised sports seasons that steal hours each day of our lives. How does “transformational” fit into our daily agenda? Do we even see ourselves as we are within our protected patterns of living? Right now the “me” choices are endless, Hockey and basketball playoffs, the final episodes of most reality TV series, our ever-expanding linkages on Facebook, the limitless Netflix options, the forever video gaming, the consumer shopping habits. The distractions which we consider normality manage our lives and we say we are busy. This common lifestyle is the definition of apathy and indifference. We are it!

Does it really matter to us even when we bluntly face its reality? Probably not for most. You see busyness of doing life allows me to ignore the moment of “what matters most” reflection and continue with what is the pleasure of the moment where I live within the lives of others in sports, reality shows, novels, movies and Facebook surfing. The bluntness passes around me because I am not really living my life. This occupation of my life is virtual and can be all consuming. It amounts to daytime comas. It is an anesthetic that separates us from self, God, family, neighbours and the world about us.

How does “Abolish Poverty and End Needless Suffering or Pursuing Peace” cross our minds with enough impact to get us off the couch or computer or out of the Home Sense store? What is the catalyst that is powerful enough to alter our routines? What brings us daily to our knees for moments of “what matters most” reflection/spiritual practices that increases our capacity of time to engage in real reality, our reality and be part of the solution, not a bystander allowing atrocities, suffering and injustice to happen on our doorsteps in our communities. In law there is a precedent called “willful blindness” which essentially says if you had the opportunity to be aware of something like abuse or something faulty and chose not to act, you are implicated in the injury to others. Are we susceptible to this reality because we choose apathetic “me” time? I know this is coming across harsh. It is a wake-up call for me as well. I turned off the Raptors playoff last night to prepare for a funeral.

So, we can only be catalysts when we are awake and not in virtual comas. Transformation of our own lives comes from within. If I can give some advice let it be…..Daily, kneel in prayer and listen to the real things you can do in place of interruptions not worthy of those who suffer. I am listening. Let’s talk about change. Let’s work together.

Submitted by Kerry Richards