Saturday Survey

In this case it’s surveying like a surveyor does.  We aim for the horizon and look back over the discoveries we transited , ensuring they are all aligned. 

Or in other words it’s time again to look back at the week that was here on “Becoming Today”.

It all began on a Monday. The last Monday of July to be precise. Our week started with a topic I called, “Dignity Redefined”.

Unlocking compassion  for others begins with taking care of yourself and is a stepping stone towards dignity. 

As we continue along our combined journey of Becoming Today we are often focusing on three elements that all people desire and deserve.

Compassion

Dignity

Respect

All are elements of common need and desire. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from, nor what you have been – are – or will be going through; each and everyone of us truly desires to be treated with Compassion, Dignity and Respect. Plus beyond yearning for, we should feel inherently deserving  of them. 

The trouble for some is that in order to receive these basic harmonious elements of life, we must also be giving of them freely not only to others but also be treating ourselves with each.

Time now to develop our shared understanding of defining dignity, When you have chosen to live with dignity, it means you are worthy of respect. That you have achieved a state of attitude, acceptance and caring that fosters a vision of you being worthy of being held in esteem, regarded as trustworthy and dare I say “Becoming”. 

In addition to practicing self-care, Dignity requires us to be self-confident, value our self-worth, foster our self-esteem and always be loving towards ourselves.

There’s no skipping steps here. All these personal qualities work together, and we need all these tools to empower ourselves from within. When we have allowed and accepted these strengths to be firmly established then we can work towards assisting others to do the same. 

So in finding the true meaning of having a sense of dignity, we must comprehend that it starts with the qualities, values and beliefs which we hold and choose to share. Building a healthy sense of dignity is developed over time and requires patience. It is something that is easier said than done, though is quite achievable. 

Then how do you know if you’re living with dignity? First realize it is an ongoing process, changing, developing, growing (or declining) throughout our lives. It must be nourished. You must consciously seek to renew it regularly. 

Dignity is loving and appreciating yourself just as much as you are willing to love others. The truth is that it looks different in each of us. True dignity is a solid foundation you can rely upon everyday. It also cannot be taken away from you no matter the circumstances, challenges or obstacles you may encounter. 

Tuesday we focused on “Integrity: The Necessary Ingredient”.

As the headline suggests our conversation will focus on a virtuous, moral and ethical aspect of our lives that is not-optional. Nothing like a little light Summer reading, right? 

Integrity. 

What is it?

Why is it so important? 

How do we ensure we are living with it? 

Where to begin?

Let’s start with a common understanding and craft our definition of integrity.

Integrity is a foundational aspect of our personalities. It is a deeply held belief that we should be and are adhering to a strict moral code. This oath we voluntarily undertake includes being honest with both ourselves and others; living consistent with values that are above reproach and that we must choose to be incapable of being corrupted accepting that living by these  standards in an uncommon manner increases not only our lives to new levels, but also the quality of life for all we encounter.

Without freely embracing integrity we are limiting our lives. It’s why far too many people experience simply existing rather than being rewarded with a fulfilling life. 

Quoting Wikipedia, “the word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete. In this context, integrity is the inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others “have integrity” to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.

For further study I’ll suggest these links for your consideration:

In order to be living with integrity each of us needs to be living by aligning your conduct with excellence. Displaying a firm dedication to our values and beliefs. Never wavering in adhering to higher standards and pledging to always attempt to do the right thing regardless of circumstances.

Notice I did say attempt, because no one is perfect. We will slip, we will make mistakes, sometimes even fall flat on our face. However when that occurs, we must decide to take the actions involved in getting up and pushing on. 

This can be supported by strengthening your inner dialogue. The conversations you have with yourself- in addition to “where did I put my keys?” and “I need…”, should be aligned with intentionally directing our actions in accordance with our individual understanding of what is right and wrong is. 

Being authentic is also very important. To ensure we are living with integrity our internal character must be consistent and well developed.It means walking our talk and rejecting hypocrisy.

Making integrity an integral part of our essence we can not claim to be perfect. Honesty involves being quick to acknowledge and own our mistakes and faults. Our integrated sense of sincerity should come  from a pure motivation to do what is right, always. 

Wednesday I found to be “Extremely Exalting”, as we undertook a study of Proverbs 19 as part of our weekly search and rescue mission for wisdom. 

A feeling of achieving a state of extreme happiness. What could be more exalting than that? Well as we’ll discuss today, the answer is achieving it by lifting up others.

Again today’s chapter is like a greatest hits album. These are wise sayings attributed to Solomon, a man many consider among the wisest to ever live. 

His love for wisdom, both gaining it and sharing it came from his deep abiding love for his fellow man. It was his desire that those in his kingdom live meaningful happy lives. That’s why many of his teachings deal with everyday living, like relationships, practical matters, and how to deal with obstacles.

In verse two of today’s reading he makes this point very directly, “The best way to live is with revelation-knowledge, for without it, you’ll grow impatient and run right into error”.

This passage takes our understanding of knowledge to a different level. It goes beyond information or just knowing something. Revelation-knowledge is more than an intellectual comprehension of something. It is wisdom gained directly from the Source. It is the realization of truth coming directly into your heart from God. When you truly know something you must embrace it in your heart. Our minds will play tricks on us, even try to deceive or mislead us.

When God puts it in our hearts, we can trust it and should live it. Should you choose not to, as Solomon cautions in verse three, “There are some people who ruin their own lives and then blame it all on God”. Nothing good can come from that. Being wise involves the free acceptance of personal responsibility for our choices and thoughts.

The attitudes and beliefs we have are not anyone else’s doing.

So as verse eight instructs, “Do yourself a favor and love wisdom. Learn all you can, then watch your life flourish and prosper!”

Thursday we delved into a discussion of “Names Matter”.

Personal identifiers are apparently now perceived far differently than I was always led to believe. A name was something to take pride in, however it seems, especially as we emerge into our new realities, that must no longer be the case. 

Confucius says “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name”.

Call things by their proper name.

That’s a lesson that seems lost. In this era of “branding” and people being urged to create their “personal brand”, it seems too many have been sold on the idea that it is more than a name. You can still have slogans and mottos along with a name to further identify but still central to the concept should be a name.

Besides I believe a brand is something that is forced up some and has been used to show who you are owned by rather than who you are and what you represent.

McDonald’s is a name that represents to the world what they do.

Branding is “the action of marking with a branding iron”. Like cattle to protect ownership. Like was done to slaves or even as the TV show “Yellowstone” shows to retain ownership over an individual.

With those images in mind maybe you can see the wisdom in addressing someone by their name and aspiring for your name to mean something rather than being branded as to how others want you to be seen or try to take ownership over you.

I bring this up, because names and the use of or the refusal to use them is part of an ongoing disturbing trend that has led to people being more divided. 

Now there are some that want that to be. Segregated, divided, kept apart, distant are things that enable those who for their own often nefarious purposes seek to misinform, practice disinformation or are desiring to control people rather than serve them. 

I stand in direct opposition to those individuals and in support of those seeking to empower, support and uplift. 

Unfortunately many of the groups that claim to be seeking to help, disciple or assist people have been learning towards the negative. Since the waning days of the last century, this has become a very common trend that has been dispiriting and serves only to keep the doors closed to others.

Churches are not supposed to be exclusive clubs, yet too many times I’ve been involved in conversations like this, just random occurrences while shopping or running errands.

Random individuals say something to start what they apparently perceive as a discussion, followed by,

“…oh our church is just wonderful! I’m so busy there.”

“Really that’s nice. What are you involved in?”

“Oh I do this and I do that and we are helping so many people.”

“So you have a strong membership?”

“Oh yes, it’s just wonderful!”

Then they walk away.

I have even encountered one woman in a similar scenario, who saw her Pastor in the store, and he joined in by bragging about their group and a meeting of their mutual admiration society was held between the two, both smiling and so proud of themselves.

They then individually leave the conversation and go their separate ways.

Do you notice what the two scenarios have in common? 

Neither member nor leader ever offered an invitation.

They told me how wonderful they were but it never crossed their mind to ask me to come and see for myself. 

In the incident in which the Pastor participated, as I was left there alone, another man who had been observing approached me and asked, 

“Did I miss something?”

I say, “in what respect?”.

He says “did they ever say what church they belong to?”.

I sadly replied, “no they did not”.

Then he adds, “did they even tell you the name of their church?”

“No. No they did not”.

That’s where the importance of a name comes into our conversation today. 

Yesterday our topic was one of becoming, “Forbearantly Forward”. 

Why am I stuck on this word? When was the last time I even heard that word? How could this possibly have anything to do with anything? 

The word I could not let go of is forbearance

Hey Google, what does this have to do with me? Mortgage not an issue here, and yet out of the more than nine-million results this is what the first several pages of results highlight?

I was in a contemplative, meditative state when this word forbearance stuck to me like crazy glue and here I go again, there has to be a reason, so let’s refine the question a little.

Ok Google, “forbearance definition’….

Okay better. Now more than 18 million possible responses, but you know what this one I can work with. And yes I see the secondary explanation is the mortgage thing again, but I’m focused on what is front and center.

Hmm… patience… endurance… tolerance… I just used all three of those skills in searching for my answer. There must be something to this forbearance thing and how it relates to our shared path of “Becoming”.

Just making a small adjustment adding a couple of syllables to my request, gave me a much clearer picture of the impact of this word. I could begin to realize it’s relevance, how it directly related to me, my life, our paths of “Becoming”. 

I knew I had heard the word before, though could not remember when, so that led me to the next step in my search, the Scriptures.

So I stumbled into Matthew 9:13 (ESV): “Go and learn what this means, ….”. Well that’s what I thought I was doing. Anyway then I stumbled into, (I never said this would be a straight path), Colossians 3:13:

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Bearing with, yes bear is part of the word forbearance. It also takes us back to the patience  and tolerance mentioned in the dictionary. Forgiving as we were forgiven. Always a good reminder. Especially when we need to forgive ourselves, so I think we are getting closer.

Then I arrived at Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

I think we may have arrived at our revelation.

Forbearance is patient self-control, restraint and tolerance. I need that. 

Wonder if that’s why in quiet contemplation this word adhered to me and would not let go? 

Another week has come and gone and for that matter by the time we speak again, so will have this seventh month of the year. Enjoy your weekend, keep cool and come Monday decide to join us again for our next edition of “Becoming Today”.

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