This Thing About Human Nature

There’s this thing about human nature. We want what we don’t/can’t have. And we take for granted what we do have. We misuse people and kill for status. We ignore pleas for help because maintaining the status quo is much easier than rocking the boat.

We hate the strong among us as much as we despise the weak. We lie, we cheat, we hate, we interrupt, we fear, we murder with weapons and with words. We make excuses, we look the other way…even from our own family members. And then we act civilized because of our technology, life-lengthening drugs, and a little unsacrificial giving occasionally. Shame on us!–Me.

I posted the above on Facebook a while back. I was feeling fed up with how we as human beings seem to take two steps forward then three steps back. We have been to the moon, and we are planning trips to Mars. We have technology that allows us to speak with each other no matter where in the world we are. Almost everyone on the planet has access to a hand-held computer that also allows us to make and receive phone calls.

Then there are the medications. There is a medication for almost every complaint and disease state under the sun! There is a medication for high blood pressure. There is a medication for incontinence. There is a medication for children who are behind the growth curve, to catch them up. And there is a medication for people who have grown too much. There are medications for mental, emotional, and physical ailments. There are medicines to re-grow hair!

But no matter how much technology or medication we invent, the baser things of human nature cannot seem to be fixed. We continue to be selfish. We continue to want to keep up with the Joneses. We continue to hate and despise each other. We continue to exercise elitism, racism, and slavery. And it is 2017.  

I suppose it does not matter what year it is when we start to discuss innate humanness. We cannot fix something until we face it. And as in any relationship, everyone has to want the same thing. In the case of human nature, we would all want the next person to have what we want, which is typically peace, quality of life, respect. At least we should want these things.

But when some people do not want these things for themselves, they definitely will not want them for anyone else. It is sad to say; some human personalities are just that way.

What do we do in the meantime? Maybe those of us who care continue to help when and where we can? I believe we must because that is our personality. Generally, most of us value human life. Let’s continue to value human life. Let’s do our part to be a positive in the craziness of the world.  Things may look bleak sometimes, but imagine it all without you!

That 20%

The first time I heard the well-known evangelist say it, was like a light bulb had turned on in my head! I was so thankful because it released me from a level of confusion I had for years. Why do some people dislike, even hate you on sight? I’m not talking about the hate that comes with racism and prejudice. I’m talking about a person who can be the same race, gender, economic status; but just turn up their nose the moment they meet you. They refuse to speak to you, and may even have a smirk on their face every time you enter the room.

That sermon cleared it all up for me. In it she said that automatically, 20% of the world’s population will hate you on sight! I was shocked but happy to know there was an answer to this phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, my feelings were not being hurt when this happened. It was more like I was puzzled. When I was younger, I would go over in my mind what I might have done to upset the person. But how exactly does one upset a person they do not know?

Answer: people view each other through their life experience filters. It may be, and usually is, that you remind the ‘hater’ of someone they know or knew. And that relationship may not have been a good experience for them. But immaturity causes people not to know how to differentiate and properly process experiences. Or simply put, it could just be jealousy.

So what do you do, how do you handle it? You be the mature one. People are funny. They want to treat you however they would like and expect you to take it. But if you dare push back or decide to take the high road, they get upset. Take the high road anyway. The Bible says to “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. Make every effort to live in peace with others. Anything less would be uncivilized.

So, what does taking the high road look like? How does one live in peace? Be kind no matter what. Give the person their space. There is no need to chase anyone down. The person may one day come around, seemingly out of the clear blue sky. Or they may not. You may never know why a person dislikes you. But if your mind is clear, and you are doing your best to live in peace, leave the rest to God.

Oh, and make sure you are mature enough to recognize when someone reminds you of a person with whom you may have had a bad experience. Remember they are not that person. If you have a jealousy problem, recognize and face it. Do not allow childishness to be the cornerstone of your life. Instead, allow continual growth and maturity to be your Hallmark. As you head into a new year, make the effort to mature beyond the petty stuff, recognizing that everyone is different. They are not the high school friend of whom you may be reminded. Oh, and hey, peace be still!

Top 10 Tips For A Fun Day At The Beach!

I love the beach! Every chance I can go I am there. To me it’s like a mini vacation whether I go for just a couple hours or for the entire day. The sound of the waves calms me, and the vast ocean puts things into perspective.

So, here are my tips for a great day at the beach:

  1. Go to the bathroom before you leave home. What? What did you think I was going to say? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like public bathrooms, and I definitely do not like water park
    bathrooms beach bathrooms. I just feel like they are a breeding ground for all kinds of germs. Eeew!
  2. Pack some great books and magazines. No tablets, no electronics, unless its a kindle. And read them.
  3. Pack a cooler of great snacks, water, and preferably sugar-free drinks. I don’t believe the heat of a hot summer day and sugar mix real well.stock snap photo of sliced apple photog Krzysztof Puszczynski 03162016
  4. Research the best and highest SPF sunblock you can afford, and use it. I also use lip balm with sunblock in it. It’s probably not the most glamorous thing, but I use the stuff lifeguards use. Re-apply when you get out of the water. Trust me, your older self will thank you.
  5. Now this next tip is dependent on individual needs. But if your hair dries out when you go to the beach like mine does, saturate it with leave-in conditioner before you go. When you get home just wash it out when you shower.
  6. Go to the beach with people who want to go to the beach. There’s nothing worse than going to the beach and an hour or two later your companions are ready to go. Not a good scene if it was supposed to be an all day experience!
  7. Take note of all warning signs. Those signs were not posted to put a damper on your beach experience. There are dangers wherever you go. The beach is no exception.
  8. This may go without saying, but check the weather for rain, unless you don’t mind getting rained on at the beach. I mean, it does look cool in the movies!
  9. Clean up after yourself. I mean seriously? Don’t be a litter bug.
  10. Enjoy, and repeat as often as you can! 

Symbols and Signs

The 80’s. A time of huge shoulder pads, night time soap operas, and MTV. Like previous decades, the 80stock snap photo of people holding up hands at a concert photog John Price 03162016‘s brought about social change, technological change, and new diseases.

People were afraid they could catch AIDS by touching someone who had the disease. Car phones were a big deal, and those huge cell phones were an even bigger deal.

I came of age in the 80’s. The big deal for me during that time was the music, denim jackets, and pins. Yes, pins! I pinned them to my denim jacket, thinking it was the coolest thing ever. They had funny mottos or expressions on them, but of course some were just down right sarcastic. I was a pretty sarcastic person in my younger years. Thank God for maturity! Some of the expressions on my pins gave my dad pause. On more than one occasion he would ask me what I thought a certain motto (today we call them memes) really meant. I always answered that it was not a big deal, that it was just a saying. Fortunately I grew out of the sarcasm and taking words, mottos, and sayings at face value.  

Everything has a meaning. Considering words, memes, mottos, instead of taking them at face-value is important. Some may see this as a type of self-editing of our lives. But self-edit is not the case at all. I would venture to call it protection of our mind, even our psyche. Also, things have a way of coming back to haunt us. There are very few people in my opinion, who do not have regrets over actions or words previously spoken. We have all opened our mouths and inserted one or both feet. But it should not be the theme of our lives. We should be able to mature, to listen, to hear from people who care about us. We should remain teachable and willing to continually grow.

If there is any doubt at all about what a saying, a sign, or a symbol means, we should take an extra moment to research it. I have written in the past, about an interaction I had with a stranger on the beaches of southern Belize. Here is a link to that blog post: Everything has a meaning. Every bumper sticker, every logo, every brand, every pin. Even apparently mundane, inexpensive jewelry created by a street vendor just trying to make a little cash.

Recently, I listened to a former satanist discuss the meaning of symbols most of us might find innocuous. As I listened to him explain each piece of jewelry, cartoon character, insignia, or logo; I could not help but wonder how we go through life missing so much. Between my dad finally one day telling me that everything has a meaning, the conversation with the stranger on the beach in Belize, and the former satanist explaining what certain symbols meant; I am sold. I get it, seriously, I do! We really do need to open our eyes and pay attention.

What about you? Tell me in the comments below.


A Jonah Kind of Way

Recently, my pastor preached a sermostock snap photo left or right turn only sign photog Pablo GarciaSaldana 06052016n on the story of Jonah, which can be found in the book of Jonah in The Old Testament of The Holy Bible. I have heard the story countless times over the years. But this sermon was given with a contemporary twist. Doing that puts things into better perspective for most of us, as analogies have a way of bringing the point home. He told how Jonah ran fast in the opposite direction from what God had commanded him to do.

You see, Jonah was a prophet. He was supposed to be following God’s direction to go and warn the Ninevites to change their wicked ways. But instead he was so prejudiced toward the people of Ninevah that he absolutely refused to go and speak to them. At least initially. God’s plans always work out in the end, but we as human beings have a way of forgetting that. We usually try our way first. The fact is, God will typically call us to do something we do not want to do. At the least, something we had no life plans to do. If you doubt that, talk to anyone who has a platform or a ministry. They probably did not grow up saying I want to go head to head and toe to toe, with the biggest sportswear company in the modern world. They never said, I want to become a nun and spend the rest of my life in India, tending to the marginalized. When asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ They most likely never said ‘I want to fill a need in society.’ No, they said they want to be a fireman, a policeman, or a doctor.

Yes, Jonah was a prophet. He should have known God would call his number at some point right? I mean, no one gets to do whatever they want all the time, and call it being in God’s will? No, being in God’s will is doing what He says to do whether you like it or not. Jonah did not like what God asked him to do, so he ran, but he ran right back into God! I mean, He is God after all. Where exactly did Jonah think he would be able to hide? So after finding himself in a bad spot, he decided to go back and do God’s will…kind of. He talked to the people of Ninevah, telling them to change their wicked ways. But his heart wasn’t in it. Funny thing is, even though his heart wasn’t in it, they still repented! Poor Jonah! He found out that the best course of action is to do God’s will to begin with, and with the right heart.

Have you ever been in a Jonah kind of way? Are you in a Jonah kind of way now? Are you a leader or lay member of your local church, but there are just certain people you do not care for? Maybe there is a group of people you wouldn’t mind if they all just went to Hell. Whether we live to 90, or we die too young. Whether we are on our death beds with 30 seconds to live, our hearts must be right if we want to see Jesus. That’s the bottom line. No one is going to Heaven with hate in their heart. It just does not work that way. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone, and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. Bottom line.

It’s Dead!

It’s Dead!

That was the pronouncement my dad made over one of the crepe myrtle trees in his front yard. This was said as he chopped all the branches off. I could not believe it. He had those trees in his yard for years! He moved over to the other crepe myrtle tree and started chopping away at that one. I was shocked. But with more than a decade in the horticulture department at a major amusement park, I knew he knew what he was talking about.

This is the crepe myrtle tree growing back into its own.

But something weird began to happen. In less than a week, I started seeing leaves! Green, beautiful, and then as more time went by; luscious leaves. Unfortunately I did not get a picture before I caught a revelation, but if you look closely, you will see that some of the branches still do not have leaves. Imagine this tree with no leaves!

Do you have any areas in your life that you believe are dead? Any dreams that you no longer believe, or believe in? Has anyone told you that you are dead, or that some aspect of your life is dead? You know, I’ve seen my dad cut back these trees in the past, but never to the extent that he did this year. I truly thought the trees were completely dead and that he would eventually just cut them down. But apparently that was not what he meant when he said the trees were dead. I believe nothing is ever really dead until you are dead. In fact, even after you, we, die; our dreams still have life. If we die before fulfilling them, someone else will take them on. So the excuses that you are too old, or that the dream is dead, is not acceptable.

What are your dreams? What are you doing about them? No matter how much you or someone else has cut them back, no matter how dead they look; they are not dead. Just add water, and some faith, and some will power.

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