Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness (c)2017 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries
Nothing changes if nothing changes.
A critical and anonymous letter hurt me twenty years ago. There was no name, leaving possibilities wide open. Suspicion of my neighbors, fellow church members, and acquaintances flooded my mind. There had to be some way to combat what the unkind message was doing to my peace of mind.
Perhaps responding with the opposite attitude would lessen the blow. Within an evening, I wrote five anonymous letters of my own. They were specific to each recipient, and thanked them for what they offered to the world. I told them not to worry about my name because God asked me to show them his love.
Knowing five people were growing gladly suspicious, wondering who among their circle of friends appreciated them so, made my hurt disappear. It still makes me smile to remember that day when kindness overcame hate. The nasty anonymous letter’s words are forgotten.
Perhaps negative messages have hurt you as well. Family history and other relationships helped shape your outlook. Memories of personal failure and regrettable behavior also mark your ideas about the future. True enough, pain and trauma may seriously influence how you go about making decisions. That does not mean you are trapped.
We give power to the past over our choices. It does not own us.
One sentence, so recognizable and yet seemingly ignored by those outside of twelve-step groups, sums up our powerful hope in a prayer. The first sentence reads, “God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”*
Another version of that prayer goes something like this. “God, please grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me.”
By the time greedy Scrooge of Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol had been visited by ghosts of Christmas past, present, and yet to come, he was ready to change his future. The first action he took was just the opposite of greed. He bought a turkey for one of the families his selfishness had harmed.
Nothing changes if nothing changes, so confront the ugly past with the opposite. Forget the expected, and overcome evil with good.
Today’s Helpful Word