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Plain and Simple for Oct. 12, 2012

SoVaNow.com / October 09, 2012
We humans are a complicated bunch. I so often identify with the apostle Paul who laments in Romans 7 that he does the very thing that he does not want to do and does not do what he wants to do. Who among us has ever been on a diet and can identify wholly with that? We are not going to eat that chocolate cake; we are not going to eat that chocolate cake; we are not going to eat that chocolate cake. Ok; we are not going to ever eat chocolate cake again.

I was reminded of this problem while talking with my granddaughter, Anna, who is now twelve. Like other middle-schoolers, she wants to be popular. Every once in a while, I have to remind her that many of the things that are a big deal to her contemporaries now will not be such a big deal later. Indeed, many of the really great characteristics that she has in abundance that are not valued as much in the middle-school market—depth of character, loyalty, sensitivity, and imagination—will serve her well as time moves on. But it is hard for a middle-schooler to grasp something that people my age often overlook.

For example, I was well-advanced in years before it finally dawned on me that it does not matter if I meet all the expectations of other people. First of all, you can never accomplish that feat. Secondly, even if you did, they would simply expect more and more from you. Most importantly, most people are more interested in you if you are simply being yourself. Of course, some people will never be interested in you, but that’s life. The trick is to be honest with yourself and then you can be more comfortable with everyone.

Another truth that has come hard to me is that people generally want to help. If someone offers to help, you should be gracious and let them. Do not play games, refuse or mess around. Just accept the help and say, “thank you.” You always run the risk that someone will play the martyr and lord it over you, but life is too short to worry about such things. Most people are genuinely glad to help if given the chance.

Again, I have found that you are better off to believe in the good about people. I have been around lots of evil things. I have worked in Juvenile Detention homes, ridden with the police, heard secrets of all kinds, and seen tragic deaths of all descriptions. Still, I believe most people want to be good and that there is goodness in most people. I understand evil and I walk carefully around it but I refuse to allow it to take away my faith in humanity. As the bible says, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.”



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