Elvis Had The Right Idea
(penned July 29,2008)
I really wish we all weren’t so vocal. Or judgmental. And yes, I am also preaching to myself...and the choir. How many times have you had your head lopped off for an innocent statement? Or lopped someone else’s head off for their words? Or loudly voiced what you considered to be an “opinion” when in all reality it was sheer judgment?
Though this blog has negative connotations, it must be said.
I remember taking a long slug on a Diet Coke, gasping for breath, and saying “Dear Lord, that Diet Coke is SO good.” The person next to me indignantly replied, “I HATE Diet Coke!” Was that necessary? We are quick to voice an opinion on things we abhor. Being an extrovert, I tend to give excessive information on any given subject., I’m well aware too much, too often is my habit. If a city I’ve visited is mentioned, I’m thrilled to tell you where I dined, landmarks I saw, and details on my hotel. On the flip side, I am often asked for guidance. It amazes me how quickly someone else pipes in, “That city stinks!” or “That is THE worst place to eat.” Restaurants elicit the boldest comments. People surely voice opinions when concerning food.
Last week opened my eyes. My view was eternally altered. Have you ever been guilty of judging and simply didn’t realize that was what you were doing? I recall time after time that I was the vocal one. Someone, usually a young person would attend a service after an absence. They didn’t look just like I thought they should. “What in the world? Don’t they know what they look like? They really should be more respectful.”, all “opinions” I freely voiced. Recently, someone absolutely near and dear to me walked into a service. At that point, nothing mattered. I absolutely did not care about attire nor anything else pertaining to outward appearance. My fervent prayer was that everyone would open their arms, show their love and make this person feel wanted and welcomed. I desperately hoped that no one would be as judgmental as I had been, that no noses would be turned up nor any “telling” looks be passed. Just being there, just attending a service where the presence of God could be felt, was more than I could hope for. Nothing trumped them just walking through those doors.
I promised God then and there that I would be careful to temper my opinions and try to never again judge. We must learn to not voice those negative things that swirl in our minds. We must learn kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness, and grace. We must reach out to the very one we think has nothing for us. Or to the one that returns repeatedly. I’ve never forgotten the story of Missionary Nona Freeman. She said she was like a revolving door concerning her walk with God. She was “in” and “out” so many times she lost count. She explaining that she knew it was 20 plus times she got “renewed”. Just how many souls is she responsible for in Africa? Untold numbers. Nary a doubt, the sooth sayers had much to judge. But someone believed in her. That someone gathered around her and prayed with her on that 20 something time she came for a touch. That someone had faith that no matter what, when, where, she would be saved and be something for the kingdom. Calling Nona Freeman “something for the kingdom” is a bit like calling a Rolls Royce a car.
Imprinted on my mind is the service that while going through my divorce, I was stopped in the foyer. Unsolicited advice poured forth with instructions from someone who hadn’t a clue of any details of my circumstances. I struggled to just walk through the door, and being hit head on by a well meaning busybody made it much tougher to come the next time. A dear, departed pastor’s wife who influenced me greatly had a favorite quote. “The only horse that can throw you is the one you ride the hardest.” Let’s ride a gentle horse with our words. Those things you are so adamantly inflexible over, WILL come back to you. Don’t voice your criticisms. Only allow good things to pass your lips.
The people on United Flight 93 made their last phone calls from a plane they knew was going down. I’ve read articles concerning the content of those calls and there were no harsh words, only loving tributes. Family members were told how much they were loved. Those soon to perish explained how precious their time together had been. Only sincere words of love and honor were exchanged.
Elvis had the right idea, when he sang “I did it my way.” Let’s do it our way, but let’s learn to let “our way” be the right way. Let’s determine to do it the kind way. Instead of retorting, “My God, this pie tastes awful!”, push it aside with a much softer “that’s not my favorite” if you must be vocal. When a family is in crisis, let nothing but good be spoken. Avoid voicing “he’ll pay” or “she got what’s coming to her”. If the subject is too hurtful and uncomfortable, offer hugs and send a card of encouragement. A simple “I love you and am praying daily for you” goes a long way. Refrain from giving advice unless prompted.
Here’s your chance to be an American Icon. Go on, do it “your way” Just promise that “your way” is the kind and gentle one.