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Monday, August 8, 2016

Good counsel

"A remark generally hurts in proportion to its truth."  (Will Rogers)  If you have ever heard some words you didn't want to hear about yourself, you might have wanted to deny they were correct because they reveal something about you that you are not so happy to hear. Whenever I was called a "geek", "nerd", or "brainiac" in school, I almost wanted to curl up in a ball and cry.  Why?  I wanted to be "liked", "accepted", and "embraced" by those in my peer group.  I didn't want to stand out from them as "too much" of an intellect, "not enough" of an intellect, or just plain "stand out" in anyway at all!  I wanted to be "one of them", but the truth was I wasn't.  I rarely "fit in" with the crowd I wanted to fit in with most - the popular girls.  Needless to say, their words often hurt, cut to the core, or revealed something about me I had been trying so hard to cover up.  I was awkward, enjoyed books, loved to learn new things, had a mind for scientific exploration, and didn't mind dissecting frogs to see how the body worked!  I "stood out" for what they labeled as "all the wrong reasons", but now that I am well into my fifth decade of life and rapidly approaching my sixth, I look back at those words and am not at all put off by them.  Why?  They were true then and remain true even to this day!

Yes, Your testimonies are my joy; they are like the friends I seek for counsel. (Psalm 119:24 VOICE)

"The worst thing that happens to you may be the best thing for you if you don't let it get the best of you."  (Will Rogers)  If we are to grow and develop into the unique creation God calls us to be, we need to "get over" what others say "about" us and rely upon what God says about us.  I would also have to say we need to get over what we say about ourselves. Whenever I hear someone say they see themselves some way other than the way God sees them - as valued and cherished works of his hands - I almost want to shake them a little and remind them of the truth of his love, care, and grace in operation all around them and inside them, as well.  We spend more time believing the "estimation" of our worth by flawed and faulty systems of measurement which only make us believe things about ourselves which are not true.  Most of us have been through some "worst case scenarios" in our lives - how we "came through them" is often what we come to believe and accept about ourselves.  

If we "came through them" by the might and power of our own wisdom, calculating measurement, and determined fortitude, we might just think more of ourselves than we ought.  If we stumbled out the other side, barely holding onto sanity and life, we might think we escaped, but barely!  When we "come through" life, we can either do so in our own power, under duress, or with fortitude and determination to learn from what we are experiencing.  Our focus in the midst of the circumstances of life make all the difference in how we will "see ourselves" on the opposite side of them.  What others think or say about us while we are going through the challenges of life which help define our character really doesn't matter, unless we are treating what THEY say as more important than what God says about us!

We might think of a remark about how we are dealing with life as truth, becoming frustrated when people see us the way they do.  Truth is, those words may "sting" a little, but they are often closer to the truth than we might want to admit.  Today it is not uncommon for me to refer to myself as a "nerd" of sorts - simply because I appreciate the fact God has given me a mind to comprehend and learn truth, test theory, and hold onto that which will serve me well in future circumstances.  If that makes me a "nerd", then so be it!  I like being a nerd! I used to want everyone to like me - now I appreciate only a few may actually grow close enough to reach my "inner circle" of true friends.  I used to try to do whatever anyone else wanted to do just so they'd be happy - now I know there are things I need to say "no" to so that I can have peace, rest, and even find comfort in troubling times.

To come back to what Rogers said about remarks hurting "in proportion" to the truth they bespoke, I would have to agree entirely.  The words of a faithful friend may "betray" our hearts and this is why we find them "hard to handle".  Remembering that words can deploy a great deal of emotion just by being spoken is important - but also remembering these same words can set in motion the necessary change someone needs in the direction they have been taking or position they have been assuming in life is equally important!  We cannot discount the love behind words we may not "want" to hear - because the counsel of a friend is good counsel indeed.  Just sayin!