"How sweet are thy words unto my taste!
yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth."

~Psalm 119:103

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Out of the Best Books No. 2

Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness is a slightly expanded version of a commencement speech given by George Saunders at Syracuse University on May 11, 2013.

This year I am reading and discussing Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life with the Book Buddies. (Here is a link to our online discussions.) Part of that process for me is a search for written reminders about what compassion is and how to exercise it in the world around me. When I've shared via social media some of the things I've discovered, I've used the hashtag #compassion.

This entire book warrants that hashtag. Here are a few of Saunders' thoughts:
What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.
It's a little facile, maybe, and certainly hard to implement, but I'd say, as a goal in life, you could do worse than: Try to be kinder.
That luminous part of you that exists beyond personality - your soul, if you will - is as bright and shining as any that has ever been. Bright as Shakespeare's, bright as Gandhi's, bright as Mother Teresa's. Clear away everything that keeps you separate from this secret, luminous place. Believe that it exists, come to know it bettr, nurture it, share its fruits tirelessly.

If I truly want to be in apprenticeship to Jesus - trying to become as He is - then learning and practicing compassion is vital!

Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions
every man to his brother:
And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart (Zechariah 7:9-10).

“Always try to be a little kinder than is necessary.”
― J.M. Barrie

Note of Explanation: Part of my 10-week plan for summer this year is to read one short, inspirational book each Sunday afternoon and ponder on what I can learn from it. This blog post represents part of my efforts to do that.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Feeling God's Love
Out of the Best Books No. 1

I am a fourteen-towel women
in a ten-towel-capacity life.

In Confessions of an Unbalanced Woman, Emily Watts describes her quest for "balance" - and then the epiphany that she doesn't actually want balance. Instead, she writes, "I want to find the one thing in my life that, if I get that right, it doesn't matter what the world throws onto the other side of the scale. It won't make any difference at all."

She found descriptions of that one thing in the scriptures:
Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you (Matthew 6:33).
Love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ (Moroni 10:32).
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? ... Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us (Romans 8:35, 37).

That one thing, then, is love - God's love for us and our love for God.

Two of the several ideas Emily shares for feeling God's love in daily life are these:
    Reverse your buts. A trick she learned in a management seminar, it works this way. Instead of thinking, "I love you, but you're driving me crazy." try thinking, "You're driving me crazy, but I love you." Or instead of "I have a great job, but it's really stressful." try "It's really stressful, but I have a great job." Isn't it amazing how different that feels?
    Utilize the simple, three-step formula in D&C 90:24. 1) Search diligently for evidences of God's love. 2) Pray always. 3) Be believing. "Believe that your search is not in vain. Believe that you will find what you're looking for. Believe that [God's love] is there for you personally - not just as some abstract concept but as the most intimate, knowledge-filled, careful love you could ever know. Believe that if the Lord spoke to you today he would call you by name. He knows you that well." God's promised response to this formula is "And all things shall work together for your good" (D&C 90:24).

The words of Jesus to Martha in Luke 10:41-42 have been an answer to my prayers in the past - and they serve as a reminder of Emily Watt's message:
Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Note of Explanation: Part of my 10-week plan for summer this year is to read one short, inspirational book each Sunday afternoon and ponder on what I can learn from it. This blog post represents part of my efforts to do that.