A broad summary of what we covered this week…….

by Rod Smith

I started the week challenging you to use up to 20 words to write about what you want. Once anyone knows what he or she really wants, he or she sets himself or herself in a direction that will graft purpose into even life’s most mundane challenges and tasks. It is improbable that you will currently know what you want – there are days I still don’t and I am 68 – but this is a good time to allow the thought to steep (what a tea-bag does in hot water) within you. Having goals, even very broad goals, will help you to define yourself. Remember, if you do not define yourself, someone will and you probably won’t like what they come up with.

I talked about size – the kind which has nothing to do with physical size. In some families a mom may be huge and dad is very small. In others, the dad may determine everything (be huge) and mom may have lost her voice (and size) in the name of love. In many families sons or daughters may dominate; wield too much power. It usually serves no one in the family very well. May you find your size, a size appropriate to your role in your family. To do this you will have to get into the driver’s seat of your life. Size is much more than about families: we said together and referring to all your other contexts like school and where you work and within your sports and music lives: Don’t mess with me and I won’t mess with you, there is room for all of us.

Power comes with your humanity. You, and all humans everywhere, have the power to love, create, enrich others, and to be a source of encouragement for others. You have the power to be very generous. You have the power to be kind, very kind. The positive use of your God-given human power will enhance your life even as you seek to enrich the lives of others. It is also true that you have the power to be vengeful, angry, resentful – and you may indeed have many reasons to exercise this power. Such power, too, comes with your humanity. I hope you will not use it. If you use your power to hate and hurt and ruin – even if you inflict it on people who you think may really deserve it – hate, hurt, ruin will boomerang and do its horrid work within and upon you. Unchecked, it will destroy you. Love, goodness, generosity expressed within you have the capacity from within you to be monitored. You will be able to manage such power. Hate, hurt, and ruin don’t. They run wild. Don’t give them a foothold. They are invasive viruses to any host’s emotional life. You will not be able to manage them. They will manage you. You may or may not recall that on Day 2 I reported that I regret every moment where I have used my personal power to harm others. The memories I hold of such actions often keep me awake even years later. I speak at events like RYLA in the hopes that you will do better at being human – rather than inhuman (indifferent, uncaring, unmoved) – than I have. It took me a very long time to learn these things – how to be human – and they were learned at great cost to myself and others. May you and I both, use our God-given power to enhance others and to do no harm.

I will remind you that everyone and everything (even trees) needs space if growth is to occur. The Collins Brothers showed this to us on the stage. Too much and too little are unhelpful in a healthy relationship. Healthy relationships make both parties more free, not more restricted. If you meet a potential partner with whom you feel your freedom reducing as you get to know each other and/or your voice getting quieter or the egg-shells around you getting deeper, be kind, be assertive, and move, soon. These are signs the relationship is not for you.

On Thursday I talked about SELF. Think of self as the deepest recess within a person. In an entire life-time you will probably be truly known by as few as five or six people no matter how well known or famous you may become. I have met people who have done horrible, terrible things, but I have never met a self who is not beautiful. I am sure there are some but I have never met anyone whom I can say is an ugly self, once I have gotten to know them. There are complex reasons people are the way they are. Once you get beyond the many facades most people are really practiced at, you will find people are beautiful. I believe there is something beautiful even about the worst of humanity. This is not condoning unkindness or even evil, it is recognizing the Handprint of God that is present upon every human life.   

Loving yourself is not (necessarily) selfish: Self-Awareness, Self-Assuredness are all good and expressions of self-love, until they are not. They can easily transition (devlove) into Self-Absorption and Tiresome Arrogance. Try not to go there although it sometimes feels inevitable – to me – and I have to self-correct. Learn how to love yourself. If you don’t love and accept yourself you can hardly expect others to do so.

Extraordinarily simply (and a metaphor for our purposes) think of your brain and three interlinked parts: your stem (which does not have the brains to think), is limited to fight, flight, or freeze. The Stem is purely reactive and designed only to protect. Your limbic (which only has the brains to feel) will sweep you through highs and lows where you feel good or bad, accepted or rejected. Your Limbic is where self-pity hangs out. Then, there’s (thankfully) your Neocortex. This is your much larger (than the other parts) and developing front part of your brain. This is your brain of Endless Options and Possibilities. Take time to purposefully engage your neo-cortex – let it lead – and you will save yourself a lot of trauma and cash on therapy.

Find and use your Voice. Stand up. Stand on your own two feet but don’t push anyone else over. Speak up. Speak up for yourself and for others. Say what it is you really want to say. The voice I am talking about is usually one of few words. People who have found and use their Voice usually do not have to talk very much. Be careful not to confuse speaking with having a voice. Talking and talking and more talking is not necessarily using your Voice.

Finally, love is NEVER jealous or possessive. A person who loves you won’t even try to dictate how you dress or how much time can or cannot be with your friends. No one can love and control the same person. I will remind you that we see the world around us not as the world is, but as we are. Similarly, we love others as we are, and not as others are.

It all comes down to this: what kind of person do you want to be?

Peace, joy, fulfillment be yours.


One Comment to “A broad summary of what we covered this week…….”

  1. Thank you – so succinct – and powerful… i wish everyone in my family could read and understand the message here!

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