S- A- T- U- R- D- A- Y

Of course there’s a reason why I spelled it like that. An old memory that kept popping up this week. I’ll explain coming up however first since it is another Saturday already, that means it’s time to look back at the week that was here on “Becoming Today”. 

Monday’s edition of “Becoming Today” had a tone different than any of the other nearly 600 conversations we have shared. In “Life Happens”, I noted that at times when people are facing the most difficult days and catastrophic events of their life they are not greeted with compassion or treated with dignity and respect. In fact empathy does not even seem to enter the minds of the “gatekeepers” at all. 

In July, I was really energized. I knew I was preparing for a time of great change. However the changes that came I never saw coming.

I knew I had a period ahead of me that would require my focus to be redirected, so I really got into a flow state. Every post you have read since July 25th was written and scheduled before then.

Today is the first time in nearly 12-weeks I have sat down to write to you.

While I hope those lessons and talks shared were timely for you, I was off living an existence unlike anything I have ever expected. And not in good ways.

Some of the incidents that occurred, I’m not yet detailing because they are not resolved and some will take years to correct the course on. 

I’m not complaining, just laying the foundation for our upcoming discussions.

Without faith I would not be here now.

And there are some I met in this period that are not. 

I met people. I watched people die. I watched people disappear. I witnessed and experienced anything but common courtesy being extended to human beings.

That’s why it is really on my heart to call to mind our need to become UNcommon.

What’s passing for a civilized society is rapidly deteriorating and appears to be only headed for the worse. I know this is counter to our year long focus on “Resurrecting Positivity”, however in order to do so we need to align ourselves to defeat negativity and lack of concern. 

It’s time to step up and make a difference. To put faith into action and each do whatever we can to help. An idea that is all too uncommon when examining what is actually occurring.

When He walked the earth, Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love one another as He loved us. 

Yet groups that try to claim they represent His way are not doing so.

They in particular need to realize and accept that no matter who you are or where you come from or what circumstance you may be trying to live through there are three things all people have in common. 

Everyone desires these three things and everyone should be treated accordingly by these virtues. That’s why this week we are going to spend a lot of time discussing these basic inalienable rights and reminding of their importance. 

We’ll begin with the first of those three tomorrow, because honestly I am still dealing with anger in connection to what I have witnessed.

Righteous indignation or not I know anger is not healthy. So I need to process that yet myself. 

I will be sharing some first hand insights into what I apparently was led to see. Things I certainly did not expect and even incidents that put my life in danger.

Those are stories I will share over the coming weeks, but I believe we need first this week, and in “we” –  I do mean both you and I, to refocus on the basics of human understanding and relations.

So Tuesday’s discussion began with a “Calling For Compassion”. 

Living within a covenant of being compassionate allows us to feel more, help others and embrace our vulnerability. That can transform our suffering, pain or injustice into healing, growth and change

I shared that I have been disgusted by the behaviors of groups and organizations that promote and base their multi-million dollar fundraising efforts around providings services that they are not doing and their initial responses are ‘go ask someone else’. Many times even refusing to allow those seeking help to even enter the buildings that are designated and funded by donations allegedly offering aid and comfort to those in need.

Unfortunately I am left with the observation that if you believe a group is providing something they more than likely are not.

It is a sad state of affairs. 

Certainly there can be economic restrictions but none of that needs to also involve rudeness and downright ignorant behavior towards people who are hurting.

Several decades ago, when I also encountered individuals who were having doors slammed in their faces as they sought help I found myself filled with the Spirit and lecturing a trio of pretentious, non-empathetic psychiatrists on how every person on this planet deserves to be treated at all times with compassion, dignity and respect, I realized how important it was they hear this message.

After my “sermon’ they simply got up and walked out of the room. Without saying a word. They just ran away. I knew I had struck a chord.

In their eyes you could see they knew what I was saying was correct, but none would admit to it nor were they apparently willing to change their behaviors.

To me it’s like the old song, still sung in many spiritual settings. “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with” ME!

So it is true about the issues we’ll delve into this week. Compassion begins with each and every individual.

In addition to compassion, among the inalienable rights endowed upon us by our Creator is dignity. To be able to live a dignified life and to be treated with dignity at all times. That’s where we’ll pick up this conversation next.

Skipping ahead to Thursday for a moment, “Dignity For All”, was a discussion of how compassion involves having, experiencing and sharing a genuine sympathy for the hardships, troubles or circumstances of another. 

One of the primary things to remember about sharing compassion is that it comes from your heart. It must be sincere, honest and open. Look beyond your differences and be  accepting of others and they in turn may very well choose to do the same for you. 

It is also a stepping stone towards 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. 

I can hear some of you saying that having dignity is a lot like self respect. It is in part though there are some differences. As Respect is the third element, the “R” in our C.D.R., we’ll delve into it in a moment.

Yesterday was also a hyphenated headline, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”. You’re about to find out what it means to me. 

We are exploring another element that is highly subjective, oft demanded and far too often not given. But remember that in order to receive respect you must give of it freely.

Let’s begin by formulating our shared understanding of what respect truly is. The dictionaries first offers us this definition: “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements”. Then continues on with the secondary offering, which I believe should be the primary, “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights, or traditions of others”. 

This concept of due regard or having the best wishes for, truly desiring for a shared understanding of another can be further brought along by adding  Wikipedia’s explanation of respect, which explains “… also called esteem, is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important or held in high esteem or regard. It conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities”. 

So let’s choose to agree that Respect means accepting somebody for who they are, even though they are different from you or you may not agree with them. Respect builds trust, safety, and fosters healthy attitudes, though these emotions don’t come naturally; they are something you must learn and then share. 

Respect also involves treating others the way you want to be treated. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Traditionally recalled as “The Golden Rule”, simply put it is always being considerate of others as well as honoring their feelings, opinions, and property.

Likewise actively and deliberately practicing respect towards ourselves or embracing self-respect is being good to ourselves, holding ourselves in strong esteem, with dignity and compassion. Plus committing to  the ideas of self-discipline by making responsible choices in what we say and then taking action to achieve our personal goals, in alignment with our individual beliefs and values. For me that also means working to ensure that My thoughts, attitudes, words and actions are in accord with the Lord.

Actively treating others with respect.

Let’s share some tips that assist with aligning yourselves in a compassionate, dignified attitude to ensure we are opting to be respectful at all times.  

Acknowledge people’s basic dignity. All people should be treated as being valued regardless of any status or situation

Have empathy for people, no matter what their circumstances may be.  Try your best to put yourself in their shoes. How would you want to be treated if you were living their current experience?

Listen. Intently, carefully and be accepting of what they are trying to say to you.

Encourage others to share their opinions and offer input in the conversation. Remember speaking is only part of  having a discussion.

Be accepting of and validate the contributions of others. Respect gives people the space  they need to contribute in ways they feel most comfortable. Boundaries remain important. 

No gossiping, teasing, belittling, bullying or other non accepting behaviors.

Always be affirming. When you affirm someone,it’s saying and showing that they truly matter, are valued and worthy of respect. Many times this will bolster their ability to more freely practice self-respect.  

When in doubt, mirror the actions of someone you consider to be respectful.

Now jumping back to Wednesday, “You Decide”, was the latest in our extended odyssey. Together we explored how to make better, more enlightened decisions. 

This study of Proverbs 28 suggested you have a decision to make. A meaningful one. I’m not just trying to add to the estimated 235,000 decisions researchers claim the average person makes everyday.

This choice involves the direction of your life. 

As the reading discusses, there are those who are at peace and those who live in fear, doubt, anxiety and paranoia. I’m hoping most of you- if not all of you, are desirous of the first choice. 

God wants each of us to have a direct meaningful relationship with Him. The basis for any relationship must be truthfulness. If we are not honest with one another, then any connection perceived is not real. It’s just an illusion that can shatter at any moment when reality sets in.

This is especially true in our relationship with the Lord. For we cannot hide anything from Him, yet many try to do just that. Try I said, you can not succeed, you’re only lying to yourself if you believe otherwise.

These lessons in wisdom are not designed to stifle us, but rather to cause us to thrive. It’s when we fail to heed the lessons that we stumble, encounter obstacles and are surrounded by unfortunate circumstances.

This is referred to in verse nine, “If you close your heart and refuse to listen to God’s instruction, even your prayer will be despised”.

Now there is something that could make a person paranoid. So why not choose love and its rewards instead?

Next week, we’ll continue along this fork in our path that has shone new light for me on situations I did not expect to live, witness or be called to address at this time. 

I began today by noting a memory that caused me to hyphenate today’s headline. That was because all week, I’ve had the Bay City Rollers popping in to my head:

Enjoy your weekend. May it be a safe and blessed one. And then come Monday join us again for our next edition of “Becoming Today”.

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