Archive for July, 2020

July 26, 2020

Hurt? Insulted?

by Rod Smith

If you have been hurt, insulted, directly or indirectly engage in a process before you act: 

First forgive. No matter what it is, first forgive. Forgiving is about you, not the other person or people. It is always the best option. It may not be the most logical or your first knee-jerk reaction but it will always be the better option. Knee-jerk reactions are usually what land us in the most trouble. So, forgive first. 

Working on this may take a day or two or even weeks, but ask yourself why exactly what you have experienced is hurting or upsetting you. Aim for a good take, a “whole” perspective. Uncover what is at the core of why this (whatever it is) has touched you in such a way? Why exactly has this (whatever it is) had the power to upset you when parallel circumstances perhaps have not?

After this “work” if it is yet necessary to confront whomever has hurt, insulted you directly or indirectly, take time to think about what life looks like out of their window. Try to see things as they see things. This could take a while.

These steps taken, you are ready to love and grow and be an agent of healing.     

July 23, 2020

On a personal note

by Rod Smith

Yesterday was quite a day.

I had the joy of teaching Bible Study in the morning and then drove to Hagerstown for an eye appointment with Dr. Taylor Walden only to be told what had occurred could be “sight threatening” and needed to be attended to immediately in Indianapolis.

What “occurred” was that at 4pm on Monday of this week it felt and looked as if a hairball or dustball was caught in front of my left eye and was distorting my vision. I could move it around at will by moving my eyes but I could not move it away. I even had a shower to try to wash it away, convinced it was something dangling in front of my eye.

In response to Dr. Walden’s instructions Whit kindly gave up his day and drove me to Indy.

After three “stations” of preparation and tests I was finally administered laser surgery in my left eye to “barricade” the tear in the vitreous gel and secure the tear from spreading.

This involved no pain or even discomfort. For those who have not had this is like having your eye intentionally struck by a lightning bolt several times and that is what it looked like as well.

I was pleased to be home and take the dogs for a walk.

Thanks for your love and support.

I am up and running and looking forward to a day of sermon and service preparation given that I am now a day behind.

Dr. Walden (who frequently attends PFNC – often sitting upstairs) could not have been more kind or efficient.

Rod Smith

July 22, 2020

Sobriety and Recovery – what is the difference?

by Rod Smith

A lifelong friend wrote this. I asked for his permission to publish it. He requested anonymity:

There’s a difference between being ‘sober’ and being ‘in recovery’. It’s important to understand that you cannot be cured from addictions. Being sober from addictions means:  Not using, abstaining from mind, mood altering substances like alcohol, drugs, prescription meds. Abstention must be complete. The daily work and struggles revolve around doing all you can to stay in sobriety. It’s a necessary process and the tricks you learn and plans you develop are key in moving into recovery. Being in recovery is different altogether. It begins with sobriety, but recovery is about:

  • Changing behaviour
  • Finding peace and healing
  • Striving to become a better human being, loving yourself
  • Admitting responsibility and giving up the victim role
  • Action and deeds, not talking
  • It isn’t a one-time thing, it’s a lifelong journey
  • A shot at making life changes at work, home, in relationships

Being in recovery offers you a lifelong, wonderful experience giving life your best shot every day.  Life isn’t about not using; it’s about the human experience of living life, with all the ups and downs. Staying sober is a crucial factor for recovery. Recovery is an individual experience of getting better at life.

July 20, 2020

Things that happen gradually

by Rod Smith

Things that happen gradually 

You watch your first-born infant son move through stages until he is crawling then walking and before you can say boo to a goose he’s graduating from university and earning more money than you dreamed of in a first job.

You watch your second born wake in his crib and ferry him around straddled between your wrist and your elbow – perhaps like you’d carry a football  – and the next thing he’s striding back and forth on a football field with dozens of other large young men getting ready for the coming season.

You hear a middle-of-the-night whimper from an adjacent bedroom and the boy is apparently not feeling well and you are both going to be up all night and then the fever subsides and then it is he that is checking on you and texting and calling from his home that he hopes you will have a wonderful day.

There were times you wondered if the boys would ever get along like you hoped brothers would and discover when they do get a full day together they go skateboarding at old haunts and pick up dinners you’d get for them when they were much younger and rejoice that it is all happening without you.

July 19, 2020

Leadership – time for learning new lessons

by Rod Smith

Monday challenge

If you lead anything you’re probably feeling substantial stress. Until now almost all stressful circumstances have arisen from known sources, or were self-perpetuated, or have been in-house predicaments. As difficult as past issues have been you could get your head around the problem and make a plan. 

With COVID19 it’s the vast unknowns, its potential to be so intimately dangerous, that is stressful. COVID19 is challenging our common understanding about leadership and has demanded shifts in how we have traditionally led and exposing the power of unintended consequences for everything from families to governments. 

As a leader you may think you’re crossing over into an unscripted remake and unfinished sequel of Lord of the Flies.

  • Give yourself room to think, permission to be wrong, time for open discussions and reassessments. Anger, authoritarianism, certainty, will not deliver you from this pandemic.
  • Remain, communicative with those whom you love. Don’t let the prevalent cultural and political anxieties divide you. People you love are not the problem.
  • Go quietly. There is already enough noise. Don’t add to it. Learn things about yourself only difficult authentic circumstances can teach. Remember, you can’t learn what you think you already know or if you think everyone else is an idiot. 
July 16, 2020

Fall on your knees, there is only one of you

by Rod Smith

You may have noticed with a sigh of relief or an edge of frustration you are one of a kind. 

There is no one quite like you, not even close. 

Oh your profile may reveal familial similarities, a relative may mistake you for your brother or sister, there may be a striking resemblance to your grandparent when she or he was your age; but you are unique and you know it.

You draw connections, see parallels in ways you know are a little crazy. 

Words, music, aromas, one-liners, associate across decades and you resort to momentary introspective giggles because sharing whatever you just thought or saw or felt would take too long to explain and it would be meaningless to anyone else breathing. 

On top of that your head is full of what ifs, not regrets, but possibilities, hopes, aspirations; most of them not for yourself but for people you love. Periodically you think you’re going to burst with ideas, love, passion, when you sneak a glimpse of how beautiful the people in your life really are and how much talent and life they ferry around everyday.  

There are creeping regrets. You have to fight them off like an invasive species ‘cause they keep trying to ruin the moment.

But, truth is, they earned their place but some, not all, have overstayed their welcome. 

Fall on your knees in thanksgiving.

There is only one of you. 

July 15, 2020

Want to see a miracle?

by Rod Smith

Miracles are everywhere. 

If you have the eyes and ears for them they come at you from all directions. 

Look across the room at that person with whom you have shared life for decades – and you are still friends – most of the time. 

That’s a miracle. When people get along, well almost, for many years is truly a miracle. 

You know how difficult people can be. 

That friend you have had since your earliest years in school and have still kept in contact? That’s a miracle. 

Look at the pictures of your children when they were babies and look at them now. Do you need more evidence that miracles happen?  

A miracle is when we have truly important and valuable accomplishments and experiences because we have invested for a long time: a fine education, long-term friendships, relationships with people who have taught you about love, responsibility, and forgiveness. 

The best miracles are when we have been an integral part of its unfolding or emerging. 

True miracles do this. They engage us in the process. They involve us in the work. They don’t happen to us. They happen with us.

How much fun would it be if you woke up one day and your flower garden was perfect without your help and hard work? It’s a nice idea, perhaps!  

The miracle is in your involvement.

July 14, 2020

Primal themes

by Rod Smith

In formal and informal settings I have listened to people talk about their lives all of my professional life. If there are frequently-recurring thematic areas of primal longings, they would be:

  • The desire for recognition from family and peers. Many times people have told me they feel, or might as well be, invisible.
  • The desire for a meaningful work – to accomplish something that counts, to be involved in work that makes a positive difference to others.
  • The desire to be understood – for another to take the time to hear and see life through their lens. 
  • The desire to be appreciated and for that appreciation to be expressed.
  • The desire to be surrounded by beautiful things – not expensive or opulent, just beautiful. 
  • The desire to be forgiven for indiscretions large and small, benign or damaging, many of which have been harbored in a tortured memory for decades. 
  • The ache for the affirmation of a father or a father figure. I have heard boys and girls and men and women repeatedly express a craving for someone who could be fully trusted, who was a non-anxious and listening presence, who offered necessary and appropriate protection and freedom, all at the same time.
July 13, 2020

Get on your feet, there’s a Woman approaching

by Rod Smith

Stand up men, boys and girls, there’s a Woman approaching:

Deep within her person, soul, bosom is the power to nurture, inspire, dream, and bring beautiful and magnificent dreams and plans to fruition. Listen to her voice. Listen and hear what she’s saying and what she is not saying. She has intuition – hindsight, insight, foresight. If you embrace and respect her intuition and allow it to shape and challenge your thinking, you will be wiser for it. You will save yourself considerable conflict, anguish, error, and money. 

Stand up men there’s a Woman approaching:

If you have the guts, backbone, wisdom to offer her unstrained equality, undiluted mutuality, pure respect – all of which God already affords every woman – it is you who will be enriched. It is you who will benefit. It is you who will find yourself more complete. And, when you develop the necessary fortitude to respect all women everywhere, you will find a place of growth and understanding that courageous, insightful men have always known, have always found safety and retreat. 

Stand up men and children, there’s a Woman approaching:

Get out of her way and remove your petty prejudices harbored so long and she will shape a nation, nurture leaders, turn a profit, feed a community, and, if you are available for it, she will teach you to love.

July 12, 2020

Others – how we treat others

by Rod Smith

How we treat one another on this planet is of vital importance. 

While we are indeed powerless over much, we are at least somewhat powerful when it comes to our own behavior. 

Improving the quality of human exchange begins with each of us. 

How we regard and respect others exposes (declares) who we are, not who “they” are. 

Our behavior, vocabulary, small-talk, laughter, rage, about whatever issues we face with others are reflections on who we are. Our responses to others reveals our character, our spirituality. It reveals nothing whatsoever about others and everything about us, no matter how we may try to frame it. 

It’s a responsibility we cannot hand off to another.   

You and I may not occupy some high and powerful office but it is clear – if you give it a close look – those who do occupy high and powerful offices don’t seem to treat others very well. It’s a rare political leader who uses his or her power for good, although, thankfully, there have been some.

Acceptance, respect, friendliness, clarity, and the willingness to listen, coming naturally from each of us are powerful agents of positive change in all of our human encounters. They do help to make the world into a better place. 

More importantly, they make us into better people.