One Christmas years ago, I gave my father a book for called, Tell Me Your Memories Grandpa. There was a page for each day of the year with a question that he was to answer which then painted a picture of his life. He faithfully put it by his breakfast table and wrote an answer to the questions each day. At the end of the year, he gave it back to me. I not only have his life story, but also the way he looked at things that he faced. Several weeks ago I checked out a couple of pages and shared them at our Thursday Worship at school. One of the pages was November 14, with the question: Did you ever feel hatred for another person? Dad wrote: “I cannot remember such a time.” Then I turned to November 16, with the question: Was an injustice ever done to you? to which Dad replied: “Probably. But I don’t remember much about them. It was not worth remembering.” He always told us that when we hold anger toward another, we were giving them control over us. I guess his choice not to remember those injustices was removing them of that power
Those two entries made me so proud of having been raised in a home that put emphasis on what is good about others and not on what they say and do to us. Just think if we followed Dad’s sage advice and practiced intentional forgetfulness about being wronged by others, which only leads to toxic feelings and relationships.
During my doctoral research on resiliency, one of the biggest revelations was that when one is not resilient, it is often revealed by negativity, chronic defensiveness, depression, burnout, and fatigue. But the really big surprise was that it often shows itself in cynicism. Wow! Just ponder that a moment! Cynicism is unconstructive and corrosive. It is much easier to be cynical. However, though more difficult, living large hearted and putting faith in people is much more gratifying. Sarcasm does the same kind of damage as cynicism. It creates shame, destructs rather than builds, drains energy, and destroys trust. Both can become habits of the spirit and we all so easily fall into them. I so do not want people to think of those two words when they think of me. Since learning about the destructiveness of those two habits, I vowed I would fight those attitudes with all that is within me.
Putting these thoughts all together, I was reminded of the quote, “You can tell more about a person, not by what others say about them, but by what they say about others.” What wisdom to remind us to share only that which is helpful, positive, and caring when talking of others.
Dad’s legacy is truly that he loved and accepted others unconditionally. He wrote it, he lived it. One of the great joys that being principal at St. Paul’s Lutheran School has afforded me is that I could daily pour love on to all the children and staff here. As I prepared to put these thoughts to paper, I suddenly understood the nudge this summer to choose grace as my “word” this year. We are called not to be the judge, but to love, to lavish grace on others. God made that clear. Judgment is not our job…love is. As I prepare this to be my final year as principal, I want to make love my legacy. Unconditional, abundant love. Join me. May grace abound…
If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.
— Rachel Carson