Savor each stage

The phrase “Savor each stage” came to mind yesterday, which got me thinking.

I remember pining for romance during my sophore and junior years of college. Frequent thoughts included What’s wrong with me? Why don’t the guys whom I like and admire ask me out? Am I not desirable? Who will love and appreciate me enough to WANT to marry me? Will I ever marry? . . .

Fast forward to the very demanding years when I had an infant and/or toddlers, and the grass-is-greener thoughts crept up again: Why didn’t I just ENJOY my single years?! I should have appreciated the privilege it was to be taking interesting classes in college! I had so much freedom: I could have done any number of things if I’d just set my mind to it. (Peace Corps, road trips, world travel, etc.).

I’m grateful to be able to say that I truly savor each and every day I get to share with my beloved Erik! Time with him is pleasant, pleasurable, and very often passionate. Such good times!

That doesn’t mean I’m immune to “Things will be even better once his iSeekDiscovery software is adopted around the globe! . . . ” thoughts. However, with self-awareness and honest intention, I’m hoping Erik and I can “enjoy the journey” of making our long-term financial prosperity a reality. The grass of happiness is green under our feet, if we can ENJOY what we’re doing and what we already have.

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A pinch of sweet humility

Perspective

. . . and the way you see it isn’t necessarily the way I see it.

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When people make a statement and present it as a fact when it hasn’t been proven to be true, it’s logical that arguments will follow. When people share their beliefs as “statements of fact,” it’s reasonable that listeners not of their faith will feel annoyed and marginalized by them.

In my experience, conversation becomes much more pleasant when we share our thoughts and ideas with a pinch of sweet humility:

“It seems to me that . . . ”
“In my experience . . . ”
“Maybe I’m wrong, but I think . . . ”
“I’ve been told . . . ”
“According to [so and so], . . . ”
“In my opinion, . . . ”
“I feel very concerned that . . . ”
“My current understanding is . . . ”
“After considering the matter carefully, I’ve concluded that . .. ”

Would that we could all shed the habit of stating as fact our subjective opinions, beliefs, and unproven ideas! A lot of heated arguments might be avoided if we treated ideas as IDEAS rather than IRREFUTABLE TRUTHS.

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Let’s see this in practice!

EXAMPLE #1
“God came to earth as the babe in Bethlehem.”
(Unprovable. Too definitive.)

The Bible proclaims that God came to earth as the babe in Bethlehem.
(There is a Bible. It does speak of a babe in Bethlehem. However, not all Christians would agree that the Bible proclaims that Jesus is God. Slightly too definitive.)

I believe Jesus when he states in John Chapter 8, ‘Before Abraham was born, I am.’ I believe that he is God! I have faith that he was Yahweh come to earth as the babe in Bethlehem!
(Yes, the person is stating what she/he believes definitively, but he/she is not stating her beliefs as unqualified truth statements. Appropriately non-definitive.)

EXAMPLE #2:
The Republicans candidates are all a bunch of idiots.
(Unproven. Opinion, not fact. Too definitive.)

The Republicans are solely to blame for shutting down the government with their filibuster.
(The government may have been shut down. There may have been a filibuster. But did the Republicans deserve ALL the blame for shutting down the government? Is there more to the story that needs to be explored? Slightly too definitive.)

I am irate at the Republicans for shutting down the government! It was completely insensitive of them to put so many families at risk who depend upon their government paychecks to pay their bills!
(Yes, he/she feels irate at the Republicans. But did the Republicans unilaterally shut down the government? Were families actually put at risk? The statement that it was insensitive of the Republicans is more likely an opinion than an accepted fact. Still slightly too definitive.)

How dare the Republicans filibuster?!
(While the statement shows some personal ire, its being stated as a question does allow for multiple responses. Appropriately non-definitive.)

Now, to put this into practice . . . !

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Warning signs

It disturbs me that in religions of personality*, adherents have no independent means by which to judge the actions or teachings of their leaders. Everything the leaders say or do (or write) has to be accepted. “What have our leaders taught about this?” is the only test they use in determining whether something is morally right or wrong.

Would that clear warning signs would go up each time their leaders’ teachings or actions crossed the line from supportive/compassionate/beneficial to abusive/controlling/harmful.

The flags could say:
“Emotional manipulation”

“Unsupported claim”

“Condescending”

“Shaming”

“Double standard”

“Us vs Them”

“Unreasonable demand”

“Overly simplistic”

“Peer pressure”

“None of their business!”

“Out of context”

“Exclusionary and divisive”

“One-sided”

“Provincial”

“Unknowable”

“Group think”

“Threatening”

“Self-serving”

“Opinion stated as fact”

“Blind obedience”

“Anecdotal”

“Insensitive”

I worry that, being without this kind of warning system, people in such groups end up doing or believing things that are harmful to themselves and others.

I wonder if one way people can train themselves to avoid blind obedience is to regularly ask themselves, “How would I feel about these ideas if it were Adolph Hitler delivering them? Are these ideas worthy of my devotion?”

What other mental warning flags do we need, do you think?

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*in which “infallible” leaders are revered and trusted as the final word on truth-knowledge-divine will.

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