Aerial view of a neighborhood with mature trees in a chicago suburban neighborhood in summer. Deefield, il. Usa.

There was a time when I thought of neighbors only as the folks next door or those who lived close by. Most of them looked and talked pretty much like me. I have come to have a different understanding of neighbor.

The transformation of my concept of neighbor began in 1966 when I moved to western New York to attend school. The enrollment of no more than 250-300 students included students from All over the United States and many foreign countries. Their backgrounds were as varied as their ethnicity. It was my first truly multi-cultural experience.

Multiculturalism word cloud concept. Vector illustration Stock Vector - 44625860

Then came marriage and family. After our first child was born in 1971 we started watching a new and different kind of community on Sesame Street. Each day on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood everyone was invited to “please, won’t you be my neighbor.” Both of these new television programs presented a world of diversity and inclusiveness that contributed significantly to the formation of our world view.

Fred tying shoes

The county in which I live has a population of slightly more than 900,000 of which 62% are black, |Latino, and Asian. Seventeen years ago my wife and moved into our suburban neighborhood of 85 homes which has a wonderful mix of lifestyles, ages, religions, and races. My neighborhood is very different from what I experienced when I was growing up.

I have been watching the World Cup for the past four weeks. 32 national teams have competed in this international football (soccer) tournament which is hosted this year by Russia. The final match is scheduled for this coming Sunday, July 15. My family has engaged in much conversation about the matches although we are California, Mexico, Japan, and two cities in Georgia. This sporting event has also provided a wonderful way to connect and have conversations with all sorts of people. Hearing the names and seeing the faces of the players and fans has broadened my understanding that we all have more in common than we are sometimes aware.

New Logo for 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia by Brandia Central

My son and his family have lived in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Mexico. They have also traveled extensively in the United States and much of the world. In his travel blog (www.anepiceducation.com) he wrote recently about how watching the World Cup has made him a better parent and a better world citizen. In a match this past weekend my granddaughter cheered for Russia because she has a friend in Spain who is from Russia.

I have had the words of a song stuck in my head since I sang it with the congregation of the First United Methodist Church in Rockmart, Georgia a couple of weeks ago. The song, written by Thomas S. Colvin focuses on our neighbors as it recalls the words of Jesus, following a conversation with a lawyer. Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself” (Luke 10:27). The song is simple but profound.

Neighbors are rich and poor,
Neighbors are black and white,
Neighbors are near and far away.

Jesu, Jesu,
Fill us with Your love, show us how to serve
The neighbors we have from You.

These are the ones we should serve,
These are the ones we should love;
All these are neighbors to us and You.

Jesu, Jesu,
Fill us with Your love, show us how to serve
The neighbors we have from You.

God, help us to be good neighbors!

Jamie Jenkins

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A friend recently had surgery and he told me that full recovery could take 6-12 months. Then he said, “I’ve got to find a ton of patience.” My reply was to assure him that I would join him in praying for patience. Then I asked jokingly, “Do you believe in miracles?”PatienceIt has been almost nine months since I had a fall and tore my rotator cuff. Seven months ago I had surgery to repair the damage. Physical therapy exercises have helped and I now experience only discomfort and soreness, not pain. I am able to perform simple functions that were complicated or impossible a few months ago. Tasks like putting on my socks, tying my shoes, scratching the opposite shoulder from the injured one, and feeding my belt through the loops behind my back.

I have made considerable progress but I am ready for this to be over. Patience is not one of my strongest character traits and I suspect I am not alone.

Dr. Robert Schuller is best known as an author, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and the weekly Hour of Power television program. He espoused the philosophy of Possibility Thinking and suggested that “Inch by inch anything is a cinch.”  All it requires is patience.

Napoleon Hill says, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” While there may be some truth to that, I find it difficult to wait. To have patience. If Saint Augustine was right that patience is the companion of wisdom, then I can make no claim to being wise.

Patience Is Not The Ability To Wait, But The Ability To Keep A Good Attitude While Waiting

I understand that when we allow God to be in control of our lives one of the results is that we practice patience along with other “fruit of the Spirit.” We possess not only the ability to wait but we are not anxious and restless while we wait. The writer of the biblical Book of Hebrews admonishes those to whom it was written, “you have need of patient endurance to bear up under difficult circumstances without compromising, so that when you have carried out the will of God, you may receive and enjoy to the full what is promised” (Hebrews 10:36, AMP).

So, I will pray for my friend to have patience. I will also ask God to help me to do the same. Anyone else need to be included in my prayers?

Jamie Jenkins

Sam and Susan are folks you might never have known if it was not for two of their children. They lived in a small town and although they both were well educated neither of them were in high profile positions of leadership.

Sam’s career path was certainly not one that many would count successful. He spent over 40 years in a rather non-descript place. Many of the folks he worked with and for did not like him. Some of them even burned his house down- not once but twice. One of his associates had him thrown into jail because he could not immediately pay a debt. This was one of two times he spent in jail due to his poor financial status. Lack of money was a perpetual problem.

It could be easily argued that Susan was more gifted than her husband but there was no attempt to upstage or overshadow him. She gave birth to nineteen children but nine of them died as infants. Her primary role was to focus her attention on her children. She was the primary source of her children’s education and ultimately the prominent force in shaping their lives.

Sam was also a poet but never achieved any real fame or success as a writer. One account suggests that Sam “spent his whole life and all of the family’s finances” on one literary work that “was not remembered and had little impact on his family other than as a hardship.” In contrast, Susan’s writings were foundational to her children’s education.

Susan devoted several hours every day to her children’s education. She was a commanding presence and a profound influence in their lives. Sam failed to provide financial security for his family but his life was a demonstration of perseverance- holding on when suffering, tragedy and opposition came.

In different ways Sam and Susan profoundly impacted their children. Their influence can be seen especially in two of their boys, John and Charles, the founders of the Methodist Movement that changed the course of history in 18th century England and is a continuing spiritual force in the world today.

Stained glass windows depicting John and Charles Wesley.

Because of the impact of the Wesley brothers, the world knows Samuel and Susanna Wesley. In his book, Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It, Adam Hamilton says that the boys learned a lesson from their father that would be essential to their future work by his example that “when suffering, tragedy, and opposition come, don’t turn away; turn to God. And don’t give up.” As for their mother, Hamilton says: “Susanna Wesley changed the world by shaping the heart and faith of her children and by her wise counsel and persistent prayers and encouragement.”

I suspect that Samuel and Susanna had no idea of the impact they were having on their children. There was no way they could have seen the effect of their teaching and example on their lives. They were just doing what good parents are supposed to do- live before their kids a life of faith and integrity and leave the results to God. The role of parents has never been easy but has always been important- and never more so than today.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

 

 

I am going to tell you something about which I know very little. If you want to stop reading now, I understand.

Recently we had some water damage that required moving everything in our home office. Desk, bookcases, and the contents of a closet had to be relocated. It was an inconvenience but we managed alright.

The biggest problem was disconnecting all the electronics that we depend on. This involved our computer and related equipment. We have a wireless network that requires a modem and router. Additionally, our phones are connected through a device that routes our calls over the internet. This allows us to have a “home” phone without the high monthly expense that usually accompany it.

I also have a desktop device into which I scan receipts, business cards, and other documents and it stores them in digital files. Complicating matters even more is the fact that the cell phone reception in our house is abysmal without a device called a Microcell. This device furnished by our cell phone provider boosts the frequency to allow use of mobile phones inside the house.

You have probably concluded from my explanation above that I am somewhat technologically impaired. Nevertheless I managed to move all this equipment and maintain functionality over a several week period while the damaged flooring and walls were repaired.

Then came the happy day that all the repairs were completed and we could put everything back in place. It was going to be a bit of work but I had done so well with moving everything without losing connectivity. I was not worried. I should have been!

The web of gadgets, wires, USB ports, Ethernet cables, coaxial cables, power supplies and connections to a modem, router, CPU, monitor, etc. complicated by multiple user names and passwords presented quite a challenge. Eventually everything was reconnected properly but I could not get connection to the internet. After calling my ISP (I threw that in just to appear smarter than I am), the customer support person on the phone told me her equipment showed that I had a strong signal. She could not understand why I was not connected. The only thing left was to schedule a technician to come to my house. After agreeing to a time for the on-site tech support I hung up the phone and stomped around the house (this was not the first time during this process) in complete frustration.

Despair Alone Being Alone Archetype Archet

After a while of fussing and fuming I realized that there was one thing I had not done. What harm could it do? Maybe it would work. So I re-booted my computer. Turned it off, waited 20 seconds and then turned it back on. Voila! I am a genius! Everything began to work exactly as it should.

Photo of Reboot - Buena Park, CA, United States. Logo

Later (much later) I realized that the same thing probably happens in life, not just with electronics. Problems arise. Difficulties come. All my efforts fail to produce the desired results. Frustration sets in and I behave in very unseemly ways. I try everything I know and things don’t get better. The harder I try the more negative feelings take over. Why can’t I learn to stop? Step away. Shut down. Re-boot.

Sometimes you just need to get away from it all. That might mean a vacation or just going outside for a walk or a quiet moment. Disengaging from the task at hand can clear your mind and calm your nerves. Simply taking a break can give a different perspective and help to maintain or regain balance in one’s life.

When things are not going well, the psalmist encourages us to “be still,” to “quiet down before God (and) be prayerful before him” (Psalm 37:7). Re-boot!

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

 

Last week I shared William Arthur Ward’s Six Ethics for Life. Since then I came across Six Rules of Living that the late Rev. Billy Graham’s shared in his book, The Journey. I pass them on to you with my comments, not that my perspective is better or my manner of expression is superior.

MAKE IT YOUR GOAL TO LIVE AT PEACE WITH OTHERS

“As far as it is possible, live in peace with one another.” That was the advice given by the Apostle Paul centuries ago. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teaches that peacemakers are children of God.

Inspirational Image for Matthew 5:9

AVOID REVENGE

I have heard some folks say when they are wronged, “I don’t get over it; I get even.” Living by the law of retaliation is one way but it is not the best way. The end result of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is that we will all be blind and toothless. Words of wisdom from the Bible offers an alternative:  “Turn away from evil and do good. Try to live in peace even if you must run after it to catch and hold it!” (I Peter 3:11 The Living Bible)

Before you embark on a journey of revenge dig two graves - ancient chinese philosopher confucius quote printed on burned wood board.

GUARD YOUR TONGUE

“It only takes a spark, remember, to set off a forest fire. A careless or wrongly placed word out of your mouth can do that. By our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke and go up in smoke with it, smoke right from the pit of hell” (James 3:5-6, The Message). The tongue is a powerful tool for good or evil. Therefore we must be diligent with our speech.

Silence Talk Freedom Of Speech Woman Girl

NEVER REPAY EVIL WITH EVIL

Jesus instructed us to turn the other cheek. To “turn the other cheek” does not imply pacifism, nor does it mean we place ourselves or others in mortal danger (www.gotquestions.org). Rather it is an attitude that we must cultivate that chooses to return good for evil, love for hate, kindness for harshness, affirmation for insult.

One kind word can change someones entire day. Inspirational saying about love and kindness. Vector positive quote on colorful background with squared paper texture

TREAT OTHERS AS YOU WANT THEM TO TREAT YOU

“The concept occurs in some form in nearly every religion and ethical tradition and is often considered the central tenet of Christian ethics. It can also be explained from the perspectives of psychology, philosophy, sociology, human evolution, and economics” (Wikipedia).

ornate,text,design,decoration,old,symbol,art,outdoors

This is the Golden Rule. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? If everyone practiced this, there would be no need for laws and everyone would have a wonderful life. Obviously it is not so easy and does not happen automatically. Nevertheless it must remain one of our guiding principles.

 

PRACTICE THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

Forgiveness Is Not An Occasional Act, It Is A Constant Attitude

No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes. When you are the “victim” of someone’s imperfect action, attitude, or words, you don’t have to wait for them to ask to be forgiven. It is possible to forgive so spontaneously that you rob the knife of its cutting edge. Forgiveness does more for the “forgiver” than for the “forgiven.” We forgive others when we let go of resentment and give up any claim to be compensated for the hurt or loss we have suffered.

As I said last week, there is no simple formula for rich and full living but these six principles are a good start.

Jamie Jenkins

Recently I have run across a number of sources providing “ethics for living.” They offer different numbers and slightly different suggestions but all are basically the same. William Arthur Ward, one of America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims, offers six.

Merriam-Webster defines ethics as “a set of moral principles.” Among those principles that provide good guidance are the following.

  • LISTEN before you speak

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It has been said that the reason we have two ears and one mouth is to remind us that listening is more important than speaking. Jane Blaufus, author, speaker and Catalyst for Courageous Conversations, says being “polished, poised, well spoken, or practiced” is important if a person is to be a successful public speaker. However, she says “one of the key skills I believe speakers need to master in order to be successful is to know how to listen effectively.”

The Bible offers this advice: “It is best to listen much, speak little, and not become angry” (James 1;19 TLB).  I have often heard the suggestion that when you listen, you earn the right to speak and be heard.

  •  EARN before you spend

Human beings are hardwired to want things and to want them now! This desire (demand) to experience pleasure or fulfillment without delay or deferment is powerful. Neil Patel, entrepreneur and online reminds us that “the ‘pleasure principle’ is basically the driving force that compels human beings to gratify their needs, wants, and urges. When we don’t get fulfillment, our psychological response is anxiety or tension.”

The desire to fulfill basic needs to breathe, eat, or drink can be essential and beneficial. But when the “need” is the latest gadget or some other cool new product, the result can be detrimental, not only emotionally but also financial.

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson advised “Never spend money before you earn it.”

Staffan Jacobs, writing in Catholic Stand, states, “Debt is the single biggest form of instant gratification in our society today. (And) the problem isn’t stagnant income, nor is it inflation and the rising cost of living. The problem is instant gratification and the attitude that ‘I can just pay for it later,’ which is basically the same as ‘I’d rather pay more than its actual value because I want it now and I don’t have the cash to pay for it now’.”

  • THINK before you act

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Everyone has heard that it is wise to “look before you leap.” Spontaneity is a good thing but acting without thinking it through first can sometimes lead to unpleasant results. Jens Ludwig and Anuj Shah, University of Chicago: “Research has shown that most human behavior occurs intuitively and automatically, with little deliberate thought or consideration for long-term consequences or benefits.” 

Author Kamand Kojouri suggests that you should always ask yourself, “What will happen if I say nothing?” Or do nothing? John Wesley, a religious reformer of the 18th century and the founder of the Methodist movement, provided three simple rules to guide the lives of his followers. The first of these was: Do No Harm. Whether acting or refraining from action, it is wise to think first.

  • TRY before you quit

Nothing Is Over Until You Stop Trying

It has been said, “Think you can; think you can’t. Either way you will probably be right.” I think it is true quitters never win and winners never quit.

Recently I was visiting a 95 year-old woman in a rehab facility where she was recovering from a fall. She had been away from home and her normal routine for several weeks and the physical therapists were working her hard every day. I asked how she was responding to all of this and she said, “You have to keep on keeping on.”

  • BELIEVE before you pray

people,adult,hand,man,woman,art,human,religion

Jesus said, “When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for” (Mark 11:24). One writer says that “believing takes the emphasis off of prayer itself, and puts the emphasis entirely on God Himself. It is all about God and God’s faithfulness. The Bible does not teach is to rely on prayer alone. It teaches us to rely on God.”

  • LIVE before you die

A couple of weeks ago I talked with my cousin, Carlton. He and his wife had just returned from a several months around the world cruise. He mentioned a friend who often was among those who travel with them.  He related how this friend recently told him of his travel plans for next year. And the next. And 2020. Oh, did I tell you- the friend is 101 years-old.

Frank Sinatra Painting Art Portrait Singer Music 32x24 Print Poster

Frank Sinatra sang, “I’m gonna live till I die! I’m gonna laugh ‘stead of cry. I’m gonna take the town and turn it upside down. I’m gonna live, live, live until I die.”

Jesus said, I came so that you can have real and eternal life, more and better life than you ever dreamed of” (John 10:10).

There is no simple formula for rich and full living but these six principles are a good start.

Jamie Jenkins

As soon as I hung up the phone I felt bad. I had been rude and wished I could apologize but I could not.

I usually do not answer the phone when the number is not one that I recognize but sometimes I am not sure. This number was familiar. I knew I had received calls from it before so I answered. I have learned that if there is a pause after I have said hello, then it is usually a robo-call and I hang up.

Robocall cartoons, Robocall cartoon, funny, Robocall picture, Robocall pictures, Robocall image, Robocall images, Robocall illustration, Robocall illustrations

Like everyone else I get my share of calls from telemarketers and folks taking surveys. The past few weeks there has been a massive number of calls related to the current political campaign. Now they use local numbers and call you by first name to disguise the purpose of the call. Also, I guess this helps to get by the “Do Not Call” list.

Anyway, when the phone rang this morning I answered and waited for the pause and the delayed request to speak to me. My response was not polite and I hung up. Immediately I realized this was a company with which I do business and the call was legitimate. I called back right away but the person who answered my call was not the one to whom I had spoken to rudely. Since it is a large company the person from the previous call could not be identified.

The person who called me was just doing her job and trying to be helpful to me. I spoke too quickly and rudely but it was not possible to offer her my apology. I was guilty of a harsh and inappropriate response to her call.

 Erma Bombeck

Erma Bombeck was right when she said, “Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.”

people,portrait,adult,art,woman,retro,face

Feeling guilty is not always healthy. I suspect that everyone has had someone “lay a guilt trip” on them making them feel bad unnecessarily. Ayn Rand offered words of wisdom when she said, “The worst guilt is to accept an unearned guilt.” It is important to separate a “guilt trip” from appropriate feelings of regret for your actions.

illustration,vector,sketch,chalk out,monochrome,graphic,art,outline

Guilt can paralyze you or cause you to make necessary changes. It can be a warning sign to help you realize the need to change your behavior. This is “healthy” or “appropriate” guilt and it serves us well to pay attention. The rational purpose of this guilt is simply to try and convince you to change your behavior. 

John M. Grohol, Psy.D, says, “Guilt’s purpose isn’t to make us feel bad just for the sake of it. The feeling of guilt is trying to get our attention so that we can learn something from the experience. If we learn from our behavior, we’ll be less likely to do it again in the future.”

Dr. Grohol continues, “Guilt is one of those emotions that we feel is telling us something important. Be aware that not every emotion, and certainly not every guilty feeling, is a rational one that has a purpose. Focus on the guilt that causes loved ones or friends harm. And remember to be skeptical the next time you feel guilty – is it trying to teach you something rational and helpful about your behavior, or is it just an emotional, irrational response to a situation? The answer to that question will be your first step to helping you better cope with guilt in the future.”

Jamie Jenkins

I have been told that the only sense I have is my sense of humor. That being true, you can understand why I felt very much affirmed by Pope Francis this week.

Wim Wenders Picture

A documentary, Pope Francis- A Man and His of His Word, premiered this week. In this rare collaboration with the Vatican, award winning producer Wim Wenders offers an intimate glimpse at the spiritual leader.

Pope Francis - A Man of His Word

According to IMDb, the film “is intended to be a personal journey with Pope Francis, rather than a biographical documentary about him. The pope’s ideas and his message are central to this documentary, which sets out to present his work of reform and his answers to today’s global questions.”

Andrew Barker, writing in Variety Magazine, says “It’s difficult not to be charmed by Francis’ plainspoken demeanor, and his ability to retain the folksy conversational style of a simple parish priest even when speaking from the impossibly elevated confines of the Holy See. He has a surprising sense of humor.”

You might not expect the Pope to have a sense of humor. After all, he shoulders great responsibility as the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics worldwide. The Pope is generally considered to be one of the world’s most powerful people because of his diplomatic and cultural influence.

Perhaps it is the weighty responsibility of being the spiritual and temporal head of the oldest continuing international organization in the world that demands a sense of humor in order to keep things in perspective.

Mahatma Gandhi

It really should not be surprising that the Pope would have a sense of humor. After all, many great and famous people have acknowledged that it is a necessity. Mahatma Gandhi said, “If I had no sense of humor, I would long ago have committed suicide.” The famous clergyman, social reformer, and speaker of the 19th century, Henry Ward Beecher, said “A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs. It’s jolted by every pebble on the road.”

But how does Pope Francis maintain a sense of humor when confronted daily with such gigantic responsibilities? Pope Francis says that he prays to the English martyr St. Thomas More* daily. He prays to the saint for good humor, adding that a healthy dose of humor in our daily lives is very beneficial.

A View from the Porch

What does “a good sense of humor” actually mean? While there is a difference between being funny and having a sense of humor, both are important. Southern radio personality, Ludlow Porch said you are funny if you can tell a well-timed good joke. But a humorist, he said, was one who sees the funny and absurd side of life.

Thank you Pope Francis for claiming and endorsing the need for a good sense of humor.

Jamie Jenkins

*Prayer for Good Humor
by St. Thomas More

Grant me, O Lord, good digestion, and also something to digest.
Grant me a healthy body, and the necessary good humor to maintain it.
Grant me a simple soul that knows to treasure all that is good and that doesn’t frighten easily at the sight of evil, but rather finds the means to put things back in their place.
Give me a soul that knows not boredom, grumblings, sighs and laments, nor excess of stress, because of that obstructing thing called “I.”
Grant me, O Lord, a sense of good humor. Allow me the grace to be able to take a joke to discover in life a bit of joy, and to be able to share it with others.

 

Dating made easy. That’S what the sign said and offered a web address.

Man and Woman Sitting Together in Front of Table

It has been a long time since I was single and dating. And I am certainly no expert on the subject (just ask my wife). However, I do not remember it being “easy” and I imagine that it has probably become more complicated and nuanced since then.

stock photo of online dating - Illustration depicting a computer screen shot with a internet dating search concept - JPG

One online dating service recognizes that “you’re more substance than just a selfie” and it promises “to make meaningful connections with real people.” Another boasts that it has facilitated “more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.” I have no first-hand experience with an online dating site so I do not argue with their claims and they may provide a much needed service. But I cannot believe that they can make dating easy.

In a recent Psychology Today article Dr. Robert J. Maurer does not suggest that dating can be made easy but he says it can be made simple. He says he has found that there is “only one essential predictor of future relationship health. (And) It is not the criteria people usually look for: shared interests, the same religion, similar incomes.” No, he suggests that you ask one “cliché question:” So, how come someone as wonderful as you is still single?”

The idea, according to Dr. Maurer, is “your date will hopefully hear this question as a compliment” but you can learn a lot about them from their answer.

Dating is not the only complicated life experience to which we often seek short cuts and easy answers. Take shopping for instance. You are in the market for an automobile and there are so many choices. Body style, color, optional equipment, gasoline engine or hybrid or electric- and a multitude of other things about which you have to decide. Wouldn’t it be easy if the auto makers offered only one make and model, one color, and no optional equipment?

Restaurant cafe menu, template design. royalty-free restaurant cafe menu template design stock vector art & more images of menu

When you eat out do you have difficulty with the menu? So many choices. Wouldn’t dining out be easy if there was only one entre on the menu? No daily specials. No choice of how you want your steak or burger prepared.

Street, Stock, City, Shopping, Travel, Times Square

Entertainment would be easy if there was only one theater in town playing only one movie. One home town sport/team to cheer. One television channel to watch.

Life in general can be very complicated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything was clearly right or wrong. No alternatives. Every decision had only one option. There were no forks in the road.

Obviously easy is not always better. While it might not matter what car we drive or how we entertain ourselves, there are choices that really make a difference.

stock photo of choice - Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices - JPG

I wish life to be more manageable- and it can be but there is no silver bullet or magical answer. I believe there are some absolutes in life. Everything is not up for grabs. On the other hand many, maybe most of the vital choices, are not always clear.

So how do we make good choices in the things that really matter? I believe that we are not alone in our efforts to choose and live wisely. God is with us to guide and guard us in life. “Anyone who needs wisdom should ask God. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” (James 1:5, Common English Bible). When we are not sure, “God will show how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” (Proverbs 2:9, Living Bible)

Life cannot be made easy but if we “trust God from the bottom of our heart (and) don’t try to figure out everything on our own” life can be better. If we “listen for God’s voice in everything we do, everywhere we go- God will keep us on (the right) track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jamie Jenkins

 

love,romance,illustration,woman,graphic design,business,man,isolated

Dating made easy. That’s what the sign said and offered a web address.

Man and Woman Sitting Together in Front of Table

It has been a long time since I was single and dating. And I am certainly no expert on the subject (Just ask my wife). However, I do not remember it being “easy” and I imagine that it has become more complicated and nuanced since then.

Midsection of Couple Holding Hands at Beach Against Sky

One online dating service recognizes that “you’re more substance than just a selfie” and it promises “to make meaningful connections with real people.” Another boasts that it has facilitated “more dates, more relationships, & more marriages than any other dating or personals site.” I have no first-hand experience with an online dating site so I do not argue with their claims and they may provide a much needed service. But I cannot believe that they can make dating easy.

Photo of Robert J Maurer

In a recent Psychology Today article Dr. Robert J. Maurer does not suggest that dating can be made easy but he says it can be made simple. He says he has found that there is “only one essential predictor of future relationship health. (And) It is not the criteria people usually look for: shared interests, the same religion, similar incomes.” No, he suggests that you ask one “cliché question:” So, how come someone as wonderful as you is still single?”

The idea, according to Dr. Maurer, is “your date will hopefully hear this question as a compliment” but you can learn a lot about them from their answer.

used car signs

Dating is not the only complicated life experience to which we often seek short cuts and easy answers. Take shopping for instance. You are in the market for an automobile and there are so many choices. Body style, color, optional equipment, gasoline engine or hybrid or electric- and a multitude of other things about which you have to decide. Wouldn’t it be easy if the auto makers offered only one make and model, one color, and no optional equipment?

menu as inspiration. See the grid

When you eat out do you have difficulty with the menu? So many choices. Wouldn’t dining out be easy if there was only one entre on the menu? No daily specials. No choice of how you want your steak or burger prepared.

Entertainment would be easy if there was only one theater in town playing only one movie. One home town sport/team to cheer. One television channel to watch.

movie theater, Canada

Life in general can be very complicated. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything was clearly right or wrong. No alternatives. Every decision had only one option. There were no forks in the road.

Obviously easy is not always better. While it might not matter what car we drive or how we entertain ourselves, there are choices that really make a difference.

I wish life could be more manageable- and it can be but there is no silver bullet or magical answer. I believe there are some absolutes in life. Everything is not up for grabs. On the other hand many, maybe most of the vital choices, are not always clear.

stock photo of choice - Taking decisions for the future man standing with three direction arrow choices - JPG

So how do we make good choices in the things that really matter? I believe that we are not alone in our efforts to choose and live wisely. God is with us to guide and guard us in life. “Anyone who needs wisdom should ask God. Wisdom will certainly be given to those who ask.” (James 1:5, Common English Bible). When we are not sure, “God will show how to distinguish right from wrong, how to find the right decision every time.” (Proverbs 2:9, Living Bible)

Life cannot be made easy but if we “trust God from the bottom of our heart (and) don’t try to figure out everything on our own” life can be better. If we “listen for God’s voice in everything we do, everywhere we go- God will keep us on (the right) track.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Jamie Jenkins