Preach it, Sistah! (Or Don’t!)

I remember growing up, Mom would often go on tirades about different things. She still does. By now, we all know she hates the telephone. She hates interruptions. She hates Telemarketers. She hates anyone interrupting her day. She hates the answering machine. She hates the “money mongers” on PBS. She hates reruns of Julia Child. She hates old people. She hates old men. She hates asking for help. She hates not having help. She believes in her heart it’s venting. Oh Mom. No. It’s bitching. What’s happening that’s good?

God, please help me to not do that. It’s such a blessing when you visit with another human who can tell you what they love. Especially when you repeat it multiple times a year. No, she won’t change. My brothers and I have to cope with the negativity. Now, if something is truly wrong, we respond quickly. It’s hard to decipher actual issues from complaining. We all know plenty of people who are negative. Usually negativity comes from fear. Fear of what could happen. But it hasn’t yet. Too much time in your own head can make a lot of fear and negativity surface. Old habits die hard. Fear makes us hold on to them. Just because we’ve always done it “this way.”

How is that? Like our elders? All politicians are crooks. Insurance companies are all scammers. No one can touch my remote control. I don’t even use it. You’ll mess up the tv. Leave it alone. I’ll wait until someone comes over to ask about the dripping faucet. “You never would let me hold you when you were a baby.” Sorry, Mom. I have no explanation for you about that. I was a baby!

All I can say is this. Rather than complaining about everything under the sun that’s ever happened, try kindness, instead. We all respond more to kindness than we do to barrages of constant complaints, warranted or not. We can direct the conversation in a more positive direction. We can all try that. If I ask you how you are, it sets a better mood to say, “I’m grateful to have woke up today,” rather than, “Well, I’m still here.” We could preach to the other person. Or we could respond with our own positivity instead. If they insist on doom and gloom, we have to let them be. When it affects us, we can withdraw from the conversation. Steer it elsewhere. For your sake. If they persist, cut your visit short. Don’t carry their gloom with you. Pray for them. It’s the gracious thing to do.

As a kid, I thought I was responsible for cheering Mom up. It did no good. I didn’t realize I thought this way until I felt so sorry for her when no one but me and my family were present for holiday dinners. She’d always dreamed we’d all have spouses and tons of kids. She had the perfect dining room, table, and chairs for it. It never happened. My presence didn’t matter. It was her ideal to handle, not mine.

During the “lean years” I was a single mom, I started consciously finding something to be glad about, especially if the car broke down, the water main broke in the dead of winter, the dryer stopped working, you know what I mean. You live through those things. It’s not convenient, but you make it through somehow. Every unfamiliar noise in an old car, you can bet will turn into something. Luckily, Dad taught me to listen to the noises, try to figure out where they came from, and to describe them to the mechanic. In later years, I had a great garage to go to. West Center Automotive, on 90 & Center, before HyVee built there. Jim was his name. The kids had older cars, too. Sometimes, it’d be an expensive repair. I’d call to see if the car was ready.

Jim would ask, “Are you sitting down?”

I’d say, “Is there a comma in the amount?”

He’d laugh and tell me the amount.

I’d always say, “That’s not as bad as it could be.”

He knew my situation, and I had a lot of trust in him and his sons, who worked for him. A pleasant exchange with another person lightened my load. Had it been otherwise, I would have feared everything that “might” happen. I just don’t want to live that way. It’s not to say I don’t expect some things. I do. I just don’t let it ruin my day. Things happen. To everyone. Not just us.

If, through all the negativity we hear all day, you have had enough, it’s time to do the one thing we all can do. That’s to display a live-and-let-live attitude. You’ll feel calmer, centered, more positive, and people will enjoy your company. Most things are none of our business. I want the loudest sermons to be how we live our lives at the Home Office, here in Gretna, Nebraska. I’ll pray we all get there. Join me.

Thanks for reading today. We’ll see you again tomorrow, and we’ll be grateful to God for waking us up again. Life is so full of wonderful things! Let’s focus on what goes on around us. Approach life with gratitude, kindness, humility, and calmness. You’ll see a tremendous change in everything. Be Safe out there!

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