Archive for ‘Faith’

January 27, 2018

Lies to girls

by Rod Smith

Lies girls are fed and often appear to believe:

  • Your body is more important than your brain therefore focus on your body, not your brain. Your body will get you further than your brain. Your body is bait. Use it well for a fine catch (riches, status – things you can’t get alone). Other people are more important than you. You are on Earth to serve, particularly all males.
  • Once a husband finds you, your greatest calling is to be a mother. If you have other ambitions you will compromise your mothering. Your only worthwhile ideas pertain to cooking, cleaning, and childcare; leave thinking about sciences, technology, and mathematics to males.
  • Once you are in love you will give up yourself for your husband and your children. This is what love is. You are a half. When you meet a man and marry you will become whole. If you suffer in silence and allow others to use you God will reward you.

Having addressed female audiences in the USA, Southern Africa, and in three Asian countries, I perceive these covert and overt messages to girls remain consistent. Perhaps saddest is that when girls find faith, they often expect God to be the ultimate male, issuing similar messages, demands, and expectations.

January 24, 2018

A little insight into life here in Indy….. in our part of the woods:

by Rod Smith
  • A neighborhood team schedules major parties every year. This means your neighbors and their children become people you know and love and they know and love you and your children in return.
  • Sometimes it’s so cold and icy that the city asks you to all stay home. A 5am text from the school system can tell you that school is cancelled for thousands of students. After the winter there are hundreds of huge potholes in the streets.
  • I inadvertently (of course) left my laptop at the coffee shop and three hours later it was sitting exactly where I’d left it. I also left it, on another occasion, on the top of my car (in its zipper bag) and it sat there for at least two hours in a public parking spot with scores of people passing by. It remained untouched. The computer on the car roof is an even more odd and wondrous tale than I have told but I will leave it at that for now.
  • The mail-carrier (the post-man) can deliver mail to your house for 20 years and watch your children grow up and know your name and hold packages for you when he or she knows you won’t be home to sign for them.
  • If you order stuff from Amazon it may be delivered to your house and left at the front door and it’s unlikely it will ever be taken – unless a neighbor sees it and takes it in for you until you get home.
  • I’ve had 7 burglaries in two houses.
January 18, 2018

Yes, No: teaching both….

by Rod Smith
Teaching children “yes” and “no” is, in my mind, as important as teaching a child how to read, write, and to count.

I want my sons, according to their respective ages, to…

  • Say YES to opportunities even if they involve risk or if they involve venturing into the unknown, learning new things, and breaking unhelpful habits.
  • I want them to say YES especially if the opportunities involve meeting new people and people other than those with whom they’d usually mix.
  • Say YES to opportunities to travel, to serve, and to build and to assist in mending broken places.
  • Say YES to reading new ideas and to writing responses to them.
  • Say YES when they encounter opportunities to offer hospitality.
  • Say NO to toxic secrets, to behavior that judges or excludes others.
  • Say NO to religious teachings that limit their capacities for generosity and for freedom.
  • Say NO to anything that will potentially delay their formal education no matter how appealing or adventurous the idea may be.
  • Say NO to those who disrespect them or encourage them to treat the adults around them with anything less than utmost respect and close-to-perfectly good manners.
  • Say NO to those who dismiss their ideas and who treat them as a means toward their disclosed or undisclosed ends.
January 15, 2018

This arrived over the weekend….

by Rod Smith

“Today is the 1st anniversary of discovering that my lady friend had been having an affair over the previous month with a fast-talking operator who is half my age. She told me it was over, a mere a flash in the pan for which she felt neither remorse nor regret.

“The revelation was devastating and reduced me to an emotional wreck. Over the next two months I was almost suicidal and had to seek professional help. I still loved her; I attempted to recover with the assistance of a therapist and researched depression and heartbreak. I lurched from one temporary separation to the next but was always so pleased to reconcile that it seemed the hurt was receding. That was until the next crisis surfaced.

“Then I read your column on forgiveness and experienced a wonderful epiphany. Suddenly I realized that I was punishing myself for actions for which I was not responsible. A huge cloud lifted and healing began. Today, a year later, I have absolutely no painful memories of the incident, feel rejuvenated and bear no resentments.

Thank you so much for your advice.”

 

January 7, 2018

Music within — or not? ….. It gets in the way of hearing and loving

by Rod Smith

I have written frequently about listening as a tangible gift of love. Please ponder the following as you exercise your listening skills and grow in this love-skill:

We cannot hear others more than we are willing to hear ourselves. Until I am willing to hear from myself – which means decipher my emotional pains, discern what my daydreams may mean (if anything at all), acknowledge and de-code painful memories and secret longings, face my darker secrets – the noise within my own life will keep me from accurately hearing others.

While I refuse to, or cannot hear myself, your voice will have to compete with my discordant soundtrack.

This is why we “hear what we want to hear” and hear what is not being said. We hear what fits with our unfinished, ignored, or aching symphony. Gosh, I didn’t mean to be quite so dramatic!

It’s a fallacy to think that we have to master our own lives – or successfully expel the discordant soundtrack (to continue the metaphor) before we can really love by listening. That day is unlikely to come for any of us.

Listening to our own inner-music, allowing it to speak to us, embracing it, making peace with it, helps clear the way and empowers us to really hear others.

January 2, 2018

I am my first reader….

by Rod Smith

If you want a more spiritual 2018 do the following….

  • Tell the truth with love and with kindness. Truth may be brutal but you don’t have to be.
  • Pay your debts and pledges. If you cannot be honest about why declare your plan about how you will.
  • Be kind to everyone, especially those who serve you, annoy you, and those you have somehow misunderstood as being “below” you. None of us is above or below anyone.
  • Seek mutuality, equality, and respect in every relationship. If any of these qualities is missing from any relationships delve into why it is so and fix it. Fixing it may involve humility and courage. Be assured, both are good for you.
  • Define yourself before someone else does. This does not necessitate confrontation, but it may.
  • Take hold of your life, finances, and habits before someone else has to. Remember spiritualty is measured in how you handle money and what you do with it.
  • Join or create a community of equals. Stay with it even when, and especially when, it may become uncomfortable.
  • If your faith or religion has made you hard and certain and rigid find a new church.

Please, dear reader, know that I am my first reader, my first audience. I write what I need to hear.

December 28, 2017

Last column of the year…..

by Rod Smith

The next time we “see” each other in the newspaper it will be 2018!

It’s 28C in the Durban area and negative 13C in Indianapolis as I write.

We did have a white Christmas.

Distance, weather, and many gross and subtle cultural differences separate me from you, but writing “You and Me” for all these years and getting loads of mail, has served to connect me to you and hopefully you to me.

This column will begin it 17th year in March 2018. By grace alone its impact has spread from the Mercury to a loyal and growing readership in about 160 nations.

Thank you Mercury readers. Thank you Mercury leadership and administration.

You have helped me write myself well (or at least well-er) and afforded me a platform to reach lots of people.

May you all have a happy and safe New Year.

In closing for 2017:

Yesterday I referred to my father’s idiom, Don’t carry your fish in a violin case. It stimulated questions.

Allow me illustrate:

In 1994 my dad and I visited a bookstore in Indianapolis where he saw a sign announcing “Books by the Yard (meter)”. It dawned upon him that people buy impressive looking books for show.

“That,” my boy, he said, “is carrying fish in a violin case.”

December 26, 2017

The doldrums are for planning…

by Rod Smith

I call these few days between Christmas and New Year the doldrums. They’re a breather: a time to drift between calendar high points. I get nostalgic. I experience strong elements of necessary regret as I wait for the promise of the new calendar year to kick in.

I am always reminded:

  • Integrity, honesty, kindness, forgiveness, and reconciliation – all captured by the word holiness, is local. By “local” I mean immediate and with the people with whom I share every day life.
  • If it (idea, principle, program) doesn’t work right here, now and with this family member, neighbor, colleague, it’s worthless.
  • All worthwhile positive change is first internal – the outward follows the inward. It may be convenient to switch this – thinking the inward follows the outward – but doing so is a waste of time.
  • It is possible for people to regard each other with deep, authentic respect but it is impossible without commitment to profound listening. All love begins and is demonstrated with listening and listening takes commitment and time.
  • Things are not fair or reasonable or kind while one party is gaining or advancing at the expense of another.

Please, let me know the things you think about as you prepare for your year ahead. I know we can learn from each other – it just takes a commitment to listening.

December 21, 2017

Miracles abound if you know where to look…..

by Rod Smith

Here are a few of the miracles I have encountered face-to-face this week:

  • I see a young boy and his mother walking their dog. An observer wouldn’t know the woman spent almost three years alone in a central African country negotiating with shady officials to get the boy adopted and then home. She decided she’d do this when she was on a mission trip the toddler was found abandoned and close to death in a dumpster. Her husband and three daughters got behind their mother and the seemingly endless journey of love to bring the boy to the USA began.
  • That man behind the newspaper at the coffee shop whom you may hardly give a second glance: he’s a living miracle. Unless you were told you’d never know that he disappears for weeks at a time to a central American country to perform hundred of surgeries pro-bono.
  • That guy over there with his family at breakfast: you’d never know that he also started a non-for-profit corporation that has “planted” and oversees over 65 schools in three central African countries.
  • That elderly woman crossing the street has not touched a drink in 45 years.

Look around – ask questions. Miracles abound. They are as near to you as they are to me.

December 13, 2017

Definition of family…..

by Rod Smith

When my first born was a few days old a woman whom I had known for a few years, and was really well-meaning, arrived at my house and suggested I give the baby to a real family.

Her understanding of the context and reason my son’s birth mother choose me to be his (solo) parent was very limited. While the immediate (minimal) shock and pain of that encounter has long worn off (and healed), the exchange – which happened to be the first of many strange or unexpected encounters – did give me what I believe to be a greater acuteness or awareness of what it is that makes a group of people family.

I’d really like to hear your views. Here are a few of mine. A family:

  • Is a place where people are most often related by marriage or blood but often they are not.
  • Is a place where people, who usually share space (but not always), are enduringly committed to each others highest good even if and when the highest good is painful and costly.
  • Is a platform where people can express their differences without being alienated or made to feel bad or wrong for expressing or embodying differences.
  • Is a place where members feel safe (mostly) and when they don’t (feel safe) they can say so and someone in the family will listen and hear and try to understand.
  • It’s a place where, if someone doesn’t feel safe and says so, the person who listens and hears will be able to help discern if feeling unsafe or unsure is appropriate. The process of growing and learning can be very unsettling and feeling unsettled can lead to increasing feelings of vulnerability.