Monday, September 29, 2008

What I Learned Yesterday About Tomorrow, Part I.

Over the past few days, as I have watched the interactions and conversations surrounding the current financial crisis, I have thought a great deal about the power of simple wisdom.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the lessons my grandfather taught me as a child sitting around his table remain some of the most important, direct and useful lessons of my life.

If nothing else, the past few days remind us why "simplicity" in our values, relationships, aspirations, ambitions, and faith provide the most stable foundation for healthy lives and communities.

For example, as I mentioned last week, at the heart of the financial crisis is a credit crisis. At the core of the credit crisis is the valuation of assets versus loans to folks with questionable means to afford them. And, at the center of such risky financial practices are issues of "enough", abundance, and, dare we say it, greed.

Sure, the details are much more complex now, but only because the force of the situation has spun out of control, not because the genesis was that complicated.

No, at the end of the day, we spent more than we had for things we really didn't need, and we all became complicit in a practice of "life" that forgot what it means to be truly satisfied.

Thus, the simple lessons of a farmer with a high school education resurfaces as profound and, somewhat prophetic, when ignored.

Over the next weeks, I want to share seven of his lessons with you. I hope they mean as much to you as they have to me. Of course, they are not original to my grandfather. He would be horrified at such a suggestion. But, he was humble enough to believe them and, more importantly, to live them. I hope the same for my life.

Here are the first two...

Lesson One: “If I break it, I buy it”

Every part of life costs something—good or bad. We invest ourselves into the lives of others and should realize the intentionality and effect that such investment requires and yields. The interdependent nature of human relationships insures that our lives impact each other.

I learned early that every person’s words and actions have power. My grandfather loved the saying “If you break it, you buy it”. He wasn’t just referring to objects or goods, but also to relationships.

In today’s world of individuality and personal needs/desires, accountability and responsibility often become “catch phrases” when describing how others affect us. Again, a self centered approach even to community. But, real community works when we realize how our lives affect others. In the process, we discover the authentic sense of our own personal value and self worth.

Lesson Two: “It’s never too late to be sorry… but ‘sorry’ doesn’t cut it.”

Too often, Christians see ‘salvation’ in strictly spiritual terms. But, eternal life is only part of the wonderful gift that God has offered us through Christ. We are also afforded ‘abundant life’ that transforms the way we see ourselves, our God and each other.

Real repentance and forgiveness mean looking at how God defines true “reconciliation” in Him.

First, there is never too much “water under the bridge” for one to seek and work for reconciliation. Truly, it is never too late to be sorry and to wish for a healthier, more whole relationship.

But, many of us believe that saying “sorry” or “feeling sorry” about something is the ultimate goal in reconciliation. I heard “sorry doesn’t cut it” a lot as a child, especially after I was quick to say “sorry” for my transgressions (which were many). But, did I really mean it?

My family expected us to “show our sorry” instead of just saying the words. Relationships crave interaction. Rebuilding relationships requires effort.
Words are important. Actions even more so.

Next week... Lessons three and four.

Love you all.
Be Salt and Light,

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