I heard the word “strive” six times at church on Sunday. The idea of striving — of trying, of struggling — is a bulwark tradition of our faith. We are an industrious bunch, like bees in a beehive (except for those worthless drones.) Some of you will recognize one of the temple recommend questions in the words Do you strive . . .? I always cringe at the question. Because I know the “right” answer is Yes. But I can’t say Yes. I say, “No. I don’t really “strive”. It’s counterproductive for me. I simply nurture my divine desires and then I surrender to God the best I can.”
I learned this valuable lesson from my business mentor, Dean Graziosi. I was frustrated at my lack of progress in growing my business. When I shared this with him, he counseled me:
“You’ve gotten this far by saying Yes. Yes to new contacts, new opportunities, new ideas and strategies. Now you are at the point where saying No is more valuable than saying Yes. You need to focus your efforts. That means saying No to opportunities that do not further your goals. It means turning down invitations you don’t really want to accept. It requires you to develop the ability to stay clear about what you want and the courage to say No to people who would derail you, even unwittingly. Some people may feel slighted by your refusal to join in their projects and agendas, but in the end, they will respect your strength and clarity.” Continue reading The Power of No
“So, you know how we’re part Irish? So because Jesus married one of his disciples and escaped to Ireland and had a secret family there, we are probably related to Jesus!”
The two 14-year-old boys blinked hard, processing what their 8-year-old cousin just said, then burst out laughing.
“Uh, no, Abby,” I started, only to be interrupted by the two loons interrupting each other with “The secret life of Jesus – revealed!” “Wait, which disciple did Jesus marry?”
Abby was yelling back “THE GIRL DISCIPLE!… he did SO go to Ireland!” as my Mum shooed the teens away and curled my now pouting and offended niece in for a cuddle.
“But I learned it at church,” she said, confused and cranky, “and we are from Ireland in our family tree…”
Sometimes working out what to say is like trying to grab bouncing Skittles – there’s too many options and something’s going to get missed. Then when faith and the religious teachings and beliefs of others come into it? Carnage like playing Marco Polo in a minefield is one potential outcome, with “Married Irish Jesus” thankfully at the less lethal end of the scale. Continue reading The Faiths Of My Family
Like you, I’ve spent my years here on earth trying to figure out what life is all about. You will be thrilled to know I’ve finally got it, and I’m going to share it with you. Here it is: you get what you truly want.
Now, before you protest that you are getting very little of what you want, hear me out. It’s about our heart’s true desire. Very few of us know what we really want, especially in this era of strident, competing voices telling us what we need to make us happier: more money, more things, more youth or beauty, more fun, more technology, more . . . more . . . more. I am not suggesting that a minimalist lifestyle will still all the voices, though it may help. I am inviting you to question — constantly — if the way you are living is getting you what you truly want. This requires a lot of deep inner exploration, a lot of focused quiet time, a whole lot of honesty. Continue reading A Theology of Desire
It doesn’t matter if you’re eighteen, twenty-eight,
forty-five, or seventy-three, the truth is at every age, there are simply Things We Don’t Know We Don’t Know.
We learn a great deal from personal experience and through the experiences of others, but no matter how wise we are, we still have blind spots in our awareness. And sometimes those blind spots play a major role in the decisions we make, for better or worse.
One of my blind spots has been understanding the difference between hope and expectation, and how these two characteristics affect how we love others and respect their agency. Continue reading Hope, Expectation, Love, and Agency