Archive for May, 2021

May 31, 2021

Learn about money and how it works

by Rod Smith

You will hear “money can’t buy happiness” and other tired clichés. It’s usually from people who have neither money nor happiness. I am not suggesting money makes people happy but it is a lot nicer to be rich if you are set on being unhappy. Money won’t make an unhappy person happy, but poverty sure doesn’t help anyone feel better.

Happy people are happy, rich or poor. There’s not enough money on Earth to make unhappy people happy. Happiness is not about the money.

Become an expert in how money works. If you are good with money you could put into motion something so powerful that people generations from now could benefit.

Look around your city and see how many buildings are named after people. These people were (usually) good with money. 

Or, you could be ruled by money, spend the rest of your life paying off credit cards and make people you will never know even richer.

They will go on lavish vacations on the interest you are paying and buy holiday homes at your expense. Happy about that?

May 29, 2021

Things every parent must face and “square away”

by Rod Smith

My son/daughter is probably as willful as I ever was and am. Like I was and am he/she is fully capable of greatness and disaster. The sooner he/she sees this the better.

My son/daughter is an autonomous being over whom I have very little, if any, control. The more I try, the less likely my efforts will prove effective.

My son/daughter is as prone to human mistakes, pitfalls, dangers as the next person. No one is immune to things that pull humans down.

My son’s/daughter’s success (and mine) will almost entirely pivot on the acceptance of personal responsibility. The sooner he/she (and I) accepts this the better. While there is blame, finger pointing, victim living, victim thinking, no matter how legitimate, there will be no helpful, lasting growth.

As much as self-help books usually tout, not everything is about parenting. Some things infiltrate and hurt the best of families and the wisest of parents. There are people who have been very poorly parented, or hardly parented at all, who have changed the world for good.

May 28, 2021

Formidable you

by Rod Smith

There are three beautifully intertwined gifts we can give each other. Authenticity is crucial. No one can export what he or she does not have although people try it all the time. It falls flat because it is fake. We prepare these gifts first for ourselves, then for those we love, but, once they are growing within, everyone benefits.

The powerful trio of assets are Backbone, Voice, and Imagination (capitals intended). 

Your Imagination (seeing, casting vision, planning) is crucial to all relationships. You may have noticed everything begins with an idea, a “let’s,” a “what if we?”, a “why don’t we?” Nurture your wild, kind imagination. The world needs it.

Voice your thoughts, aspirations, desires. Say clearly what it is you want your life to say. This will give you added definition, a very attractive quality to other well-defined people and an antidote to those with dark and hidden agendas. Find, use your Voice. The world needs it.

Couple Voice and Imagination with Backbone (courage, determination, grit) and you have a formidable and winning combination and you will be able to take on the world offering kindness and grace and the world will (usually) return the favor.

May 27, 2021

Find your backbone

by Rod Smith

Filleting is for fish not people

A backbone is one of those “use it or lose it” things. Find it, use it, love it. Some people have been filleted. This can be done swiftly, or painstakingly slowly by life, “love,” family, or even church. If you were filleted a time ago it may be hard for you to locate your backbone. But, complete filleting is possible with fish, not humans. It’s in there. You just have to want to find it and resurrect it.

You have to acknowledge its necessity and see its purpose, its role in propelling you to face yourself then the world. Then, practice.

You have to show up, stand up, and speak up, even if it is in small ways. Start with non threatening situations, where you have formerly been a pushover. Once you begin to trust your backbone you will like it and begin to use it in important situations like your intimate relationships, work, with your parents, children, or even, if you are a pastor, with your congregation.

May 26, 2021

No matter how much love…..

by Rod Smith

No matter how much love or patience or gentleness or forgiveness there may be in a relationship it is impossible to:

  • Make someone love you or stay with you who wants to leave you and wants to go. All your attempts will backfire and reinforce the desire to leave. I know it is tough to do but you will save yourself a lot of trauma and pain if you allow him or her the freedom he or she is seeking.
  • Make an unfaithful person faithful. His or her indiscretions are purely and uniquely his or her problem and not yours. You make it yours when you think his or her problem with unfaithfulness is something you have caused or you can solve.
  • Stop another from abusing alcohol or legal or illegal drugs and substances or squandering resources with gambling. Sex addicitons of all forms may be included in the list. These are unique and personal issues and illnesses that are not “set off” by a partner or are ever a partner’s fault. “You made me do it” is a lie and ought to be treated as such.
  • Share your partner with another in an emotional or shared sexual relationship and expect things to go enduringly well in your partnership.
May 25, 2021

Morning Question

by Rod Smith

I try to wake in the morning and ask myself, “What kind of person will you be today?” This intimate exchange is crucial to my all-round well-being. It stops me blaming, helps me to be grateful for all I enjoy.

I wish I’d started asking myself this and similar questions years ago. It might have saved others and myself much pain.

I am not always successful living out my ideals but I have to have them. I need railroad tracks to guide me into the new day, week, month, year, decade.

I wonder what you do to keep yourself on track with your goals, values, principles? I’d love to know.

I am grateful for readers who have thanked for this column and told me how much you have learned from my writing. Truth is, I have gained more than I could imagine anyone else may have gained.

The joy of daily writing positions me for the joy of daily living and I detest the thought of writing about living well and then going about my day in a manner contrary to the content of what I write.

May 24, 2021

Who will you be today?

by Rod Smith

Grace is easier to write about than it is to exercise, embody. But, it is essential for healthy living, the building of strong families, the well-being of dynamic churches, places of worship, even the prosperity of healthy businesses. Grace unifies, empowers, inspires, makes people free.

Grace helps me to overlook what I think is my due, my just desert, my rights. It assists me to forgive, to turn the page, the other cheek, and to move on, to let go. To be part of the solution and not the problem.

Grace empowers me to live with an open hand rather than a clenched fist. When under the motivation of divine grace I can forgive others, even if not requested. I can write off debts, offering gifts in place of repayment. A man or woman of Grace seeks to enrich the lives of those who seek to hurt him or her. Grace is evidence of divine intervention, of growth, goodness, and spiritual maturity

Yes, it is easier to write about Grace than it is to extend it at every turn, – which is, of course, all the more reason to try.

May 22, 2021

My dad

by Rod Smith

My father, EWG Smith, was the most generous man I have ever known. He’d pack boxes of groceries and deliver them to needy families from our grocery shop in Red Hill. “You are supposed to sell stuff, Ernest!” our mother would say. “What if it were us, Mavis?” was his stock reply.

EWG served on the HMS Dorsetshire. Hardly out of his teenage years he survived her sinking. Consequently he was deeply engraved with the shock and the awe of World War II. The war years left him with grace, humor, and an appreciation of the goodness and terror of which all humans are capable. “Nearer my God, to Thee,” was his favorite hymn. He told of hundreds of men singing in harmony while afloat in life-vests hoping for rescue.

He loved music and fancied himself an undiscovered Frank Sinatra. He’d come to the Oyster Box Hotel where my band played and give me a wink as he danced by. I’d announce we had a special guest and invite them to welcome “EWG” onto the bandstand. With great flourish he’d grab the microphone and croon any one of his favorites and glow in the hearty applause.

This was among very few favors I could give him in return for the life-long hard work he’d given me.

May 19, 2021

Misuse and Abuse in Spirituality

by Rod Smith

Spiritual Abuse (always on a continuum) is occurring when a pastor, leader, or friend:

Hears God for you then alienates or punishes you if you do not adhere to his/her guidance, leadership, or authority. This is often subtle – so it is easy to deny.

Suggests that rejection of his/her higher understanding is done so at your peril. You will hear things like, “Be careful. You will move yourself from God’s protection if you ignore my guidance.”

Rewards your obedience with inclusion, and punishes your questioning with withdrawal. You’re stroked or struck!

Demands cathartic honesty. Unless you spew out every detail of your life you must be hiding something.

Lavishes you with praise, acceptance, and understanding when you are “good” and pushes you away when you are “bad.”

Such leaders leave a trail of cut-off relationships. Usually in the trail are those who refuse to submit to the will of the pastor, the leader or the friend. Such leaders live from a for me/or against me, black/white, all/or nothing platform of relationships. There are usually insiders and outsiders.

A healthy faith is about reconciliation, forgiveness, and freedom. It’s about “space” and room to move to respectfully disagree, there’s no trading in guilt or blame. Healthy leaders, friends increase your freedom, they do not try to restrict it.

May 18, 2021

Your therapist may (warning label):

by Rod Smith
  • expose you to several new perspectives and the experience may lead to significant change.
  • have sufficient guts to show you your victim thinking and behaving.
  • strip you of God-talk and handy clichés to the point where you meet yourself and encounter the divine.
  • show you your position in your network of family and friends and how you may be resisting your legitimate place in that network.
  • ignore your focus on weaknesses and help you capitalize upon your strengths.
  • insist you create new orbits to escape your entrenched ways.
  • help you stop the endless task of trying to make unhappy people happy.
  • stir your inner-lion until you see the fruitlessness of accommodating poor treatment from anyone.
  • expose you to the joy of being out of control while keeping the rules.
  • show you it’s possible to have a brighter future than your past if you embrace the courage to plan and implement what you really want.