Archive for August, 2020

August 31, 2020

“Little” things that hinder

by Rod Smith

I’m aware these are tough standards, but how else will any of us improve at life and relationships if we don’t take care of the “small” things? 

  • If I retell a story in the presence of someone who was present as a witness and I exaggerate or lie (even in an attempt at humour) the witness knows I am capable of being a false witness even if he or she never lets on.
  • If I gossip even to a willing and eager listener, the listener knows I am capable of gossip and even if he or she never lets on.
  • If I am rude, demanding in a restaurant or the post office or with the cashier at the grocery shop when things don’t go my way I am revealing my true colours. If I treat a stranger in public with disrespect one can only imagine how I treat people who are close to me in private when things do not go my way.
  • If I cheat or lie in seemingly little or unimportant ways, people who witness it, even if they benefit in the immediate from my actions, will know not to trust me in other and unrelated circumstances. 
August 25, 2020


by Rod Smith

“What shall I do with this grief,” she asked, having lost so much, one thing on top of another, enough loss for many people in a life-time.

You shall sit with it. Embrace it. As difficult as that may sound, you will let it do its work.

“What shall I do with the pain, the gaping hole in my chest, a wound in my soul, my very being?”

You will go into survival-mode, operate on automatic, auto-pilot, if you can operate at all. Then, you will arrange your life around it, at least for a while.

“But, I do not want this, the anguish, this disorientation.”

Nobody does. It is always an uninvited guest. It barges in without notice, without invitation. It is no respecter of persons.

“You are not being much help.”

Grief will do its work and ultimately you will find it in you to respond. The person within you, yes, the one who is, and who feels overwhelmed, drowned in sorrow, will be shaped by the losses and will emerge to be even more beautiful than you already are.

You will know and sense things and gain remarkable intuition and offer presence for others in ways you could never have imagined.

Despite it being a path that you’d never have chosen, you will use it well.

August 17, 2020

Four Fundamentals About Relationships

by Rod Smith
  • Neither you nor I can bring change to a relationship we are not part of or willing to participate in. Third party or arm’s length involvement will always be regarded as interference and will find resistance.
  • Neither you nor I will successfully hope or will all the change we may want to come to another (spouse, son, in-law, friend) until they, themselves, will and want that change we are wasting our energies. Pressure will meet resistance and often promote the very opposite of what we are wanting and hoping at the outset.  
  • If we feed it, it will grow; if we enable it, it will grow; if we accommodate it, it will grow; if we allow it, it will grow. Choosing our responses to “it” – whatever it is, ought to be carefully considered. This broad principle works for good and for ill, the positives and the negatives in our lives. 
  • Like it or not, you and I send out signals to others, some really strong, some really subtle, so, take a little time to evaluate what those signals may be. You and I may need some independent help to read and discern what we are emitting. This somewhat explains why similar relationship dilemmas seem to repeatedly face the same people.
August 10, 2020

Agents of Grace

by Rod Smith

Grace is easier to speak, write, and preach about than it is to embody. 

But, nonetheless, it is essential for healthy living. It’s crucial for the building of strong families, the well-being of places of worship, and the prosperity of healthy businesses, schools, hospitals, and everywhere people work together.

Grace helps me resist the need to be right or rewarded. It helps me resist the desire for pay-back or revenge. It assists me to forgive, turn the page, move on, let go. It allows me to see that others are as fallible and I am. Grace empowers me to live with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. When operating in the power of divine grace I can forgive others, even if forgiveness is not requested or deserved. I can write off debts, even offering gifts in place of the repayment of the debt.

At its best a man or woman of grace seeks to enrich the lives of those who seek to hurt or damage him or her. 

Grace is evidence of divine intervention, growth, goodness, and spiritual maturity

It remains easier to write, preach, and argue about grace than it is to extend it at every turn, which, of course, is all the more reason to try.

August 8, 2020

A miraculous life

by Rod Smith

You have a group of friends that has remained somewhat constant for years. Conversations pick up where they left off. Worn out jokes and the retelling of pivotal events are predictable and enjoyable. Even though well-established, the group welcomes new people. These are people who have your back and you know it.

You enjoy deep affection for the children of your closest friends whom you have observed from birth and who are now adults and some are now parents themselves. You have their backs even though you never have to say it.

You give regularly to the support of organizations and individuals you trust.

You love your work and give it your all. You are careful to not allow it to be all-consuming.  

You witness and you participate in the miracle of brave love as you engage in daily duties like having a job and doing the laundry and unpacking the groceries. You know your friends are similarly engaged in equally miraculous lives. 

You know and you enjoy your neighbors. It’s mutual. You keep up with each other’s lives without living in each other’s pockets. You watch out for each other and trade in trust, good humour,  and respect. 

August 7, 2020

I’ve seen women……

by Rod Smith

Women shortchange themselves when and if they believe they need a man or children to be made whole.

I see them treating love as the complete sacrifice of self, putting everyone and everything else first, at gross personal expense, apparently thinking this is what love is.

I’ve seen them lose self definition, morph opinions, thoughts, desires to fit in with others.

Over time, they forget it’s possible and acceptable to have a unique thought or opinion. Some finding fear in the very idea.

I see women accommodating disrespect, putting up with unwanted language, actions, and even sex they don’t want, as if this is somehow what is within the calling of a woman.

I’ve known women ignore their sane inner-voice, and ignore it for years, or until the children are older, or until, until, and until…. and then it never happens.

And, I’ve seen it in every culture and sub-culture – in the most “advanced” and the most “disadvantaged” nations – where I’ve been privileged to visit and where I’ve been invited to preach and teach.

Identifying these patterns is the easy part.

I’ve also seen women make incredible changes.

I’ve seen women begin alone, within a secret place in the heart or soul, and find and develop a voice and use it in small ways, test the waters of change.

Then I’ve seen them go deeper, deeper, and deeper and find and express voice and stand ground and speak up and refuse to cooperate with the controlling demands of petty partners until everything changes and they live the full and complete lives we are all called to live.

August 5, 2020

Seen any poor parenting recently?

by Rod Smith

It’s easy to judge what appears to be poor parenting: the mother who can’t let go, the dad who can’t say no to a three-year-old, the elderly parent who gets scammed by an adult son or daughter, and on and on and on…..

I’d suggest some caution.

You probably have little idea of what the family has endured to deliver them to this point. What you observe has history, and usually profound history, and the most powerful forces may predate the participants by generations who may themselves be unaware of the generational tides giving rise to the behavior.

We are much, much more than walking catalogs of good and poor choices, of cause and effect and linear simplicity.

When it comes to our families, especially our children, we embody astounding complexity much of which loads our behavior and can steer our reactions.

Of course things are better for all when we are rational and responsive and “responsible” but parenting stirs the primordial being within and he/she is often far from reasonable.

Off-spring, of all ages, usually have inordinate power over parents. They have our number and know our hot buttons. They know we usually ache when they do. They know we have to learn to resist involving ourselves in things that are none of our business.

What you are observing is people on a tight-rope of love, compassion, dreams, desires, successes, heartaches, and failures. Rational behavior, especially to the outside observer, is not always that easy.

The parent is simultaneously trying to enjoy the present, while hoping for the future, and scaling the walls of the past.

Many a parent was never reared with any plan, skill, or imagination. He or she simply “got older” and now, in trying to do better for his or her children, and is fighting battles to which we, the critics, may be absolutely blind.

August 2, 2020

Rage, the quiet kind

by Rod Smith

Some people have “quiet rage.”

They are usually very controlled and accomplished people, known for their ability to cope with stress and difficult circumstances.

But, deep inside, they are regularly seething.

The controlled demeanor hides and buries the agitation.

The façade has dual purposes: it gives others the sense that things are fine; it gives the host the idea that things really are under control.

He or she is a person dangerously divided. It creates separation both among others and within the self.

While quiet rage might not impact casual relationships in a meaningful manner it can be very damaging for the host and all who love him or her.

If this observation “rings a bell” for you I’d like to suggest quiet rage is deeply rooted in a few sources: disappointment, the desire to control the often uncontrollable, and in the painful discovery that each of us struggles to live up to our own expectations, never mind the expectations of others.

Quiet rage will only be quiet and cooperate for a season. Then, it grows. It wants out. It manifests in overt anger and illnesses. It won’t maintain its silence or its semblance of respectability.

Talk it out before it breaks out, breaks things, and hurts people, yourself included.