Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use

How To Walk Through the Raindrops

how faith teaches resilience

Life rains down on all of us. We experience loss, sadness, frustration, difficult times, goals missed, dreams disappointed. We go through broken relationships, betrayals, trust misplaced, loved ones hurt.

Yet, while the rain can drown us, it can also strengthen us. While it can overwhelm, it can also energize. What makes the difference is the character trait we call resilience. To be resilient is to be able survive the winter and make it to spring. It is to learn from and find a way to understand life’s difficulties.

The Courage To Rejoice

How do we become more resilient? The Danish existentialist philosopher Soren Kierkegaard wrote a profound sentence in his Journals: “It requires moral courage to grieve; it requires religious courage to rejoice.”

What Kierkegaard calls religious courage is the sense that life has a purpose and a meaning. When we know that our life matters–when we live for something larger than ourselves–we are more likely to have the courage to rejoice even when life is hard.

The Right Perspective

That is not to say that we should see the world through rose-colored lenses. Voltaire’s character Dr. Pangloss in Candide saw “the best of all possible worlds” in everything, but that is unrealistic and impossible for many of us. Rather, we can shift our perspective.

We can struggle to see our lives from a long and broad perspective. When we do so, we often experience more gratitude and feelings of accomplishment, and the sadness of the moment is seen as temporary rather than permanent.

Sometimes we need to force ourselves to look at this broader perspective. It does not come naturally. As Harvard psychologist Daniel Gilbert wrote in his book Stumbling on Happiness, “Most of us have a tough time imagining a tomorrow that is terribly different from today…”

“We cannot feel good about an imaginary future when we are busy feeling bad about an actual present… we find that it’s a lot like trying to imagine the taste of marshmallow while chewing liver.”

The Spirit of Resilience

What a resonant description! Yet, what faith does is give us the means and tools to look at our lives more broadly. When we pray, we see ourselves as part of a people that precedes and will succeed us.

When we study, we attach ourselves to an ancient and everlasting tradition. When we we gather together, we make up a community that can hold us up when we falter, and can give us comfort and strength when we need it most.

By Evan Moffic

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

 

10 Things Children Can Learn From Their Parents’ Marriage

clinton father of the year

President Bill Clinton’s receiving Father of the Year award has raised some eyebrows. We all probably have different views of the propriety of the award.

Still, we can use it as a spark to discuss what we can learn from our parents. Sometimes we learn what to do along with what not to do.

I am fortunate to have two phenomenal parents. What I say below surely reflects my own experience, as much as it conveys wisdom and insight from Jewish tradition.

1. Affirm: Use language that honors and encourages. Our job is not change our spouse but love.

2. Admire: This maysound strange, since we usually admire a person older or more famous. But you can admire your spouse for what makes him or her unique or successful.

3. Share: Do stuff you love–movies, plays, walks in the park–together. It’s not what we accumulate that brings happiness. It’s the experience we remember.

4. Model a healthy relationship for kids: We teach by what we do, not just what we say. Show commitment through behavior.

5. Apologize when you do something wrong: Pride doesn’t win in marriage.

6. Realize that you can be right and still be wrong: Put differently, you can win an argument and still hurt the relationship.

7. Present a united front: Never undermine one another in front of your children. Disagree in private.

8. Remember what brought you together: The grind of daily life can make us forget the sparks of love. Recall and recount them.

9. Take time for each kid and for one another: If you have several children, make sure each one gets alone time with each parent.

10. Support and serve one another in everything you do: I often tell couples I marry that “the little things are the big things.” Successful relationships are not made in one day. They are sustained by the little actions–the phone calls, the kind words, the cup of coffee made without asking–that show much we care for one another.

By Evan Moffic

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

 

Don’t Wait For A Funeral To Give A Eulogy

eulogy

Delivering a eulogy for a loved one takes great  empathy and maturity. I’ve been moved by many I have heard.

Often, however, I wonder what impact the words expressed would have had on the person being remembered. Did they ever have the opportunity to know what their loved ones felt? Did they appreciate the contributions they had made to lives of those who loved them?

All too often, the answer is no. Yes, they  may have had toasts at a birthday party or had meaningful conversations with their spouse or children. They may have memory books or letters from grandchildren. Yet, we often hesitate in expressing our admiration and appreciation for those we love.

Why Do We Wait?

Perhaps we fear exposing our own vulnerabilities. Perhaps we think we may embarrass our loved ones.

Consider, however, when our words would have the greatest impact. Why wait to express them? They can enrich our loved ones lives when they are alive.

My Grandfather

I saw this first hand with my grandfather.He was a doctor in Milwaukee, Wisconsin for 40 years.

Every once in a while he would reach into a closet in his apartment that contained a box of letters he received from patients. They spoke of his warmth and caring for them, and he would read them aloud to me as a tear or two formed in his eyes.

He savored his life’s work and gained an incalculable benefit from hearing the words of others while he still could.

When Not To Be Patient

We can apply this lesson in other areas of life as well. We can celebrate professional colleagues during their career, and not just when they move or retire. We can tell our children throughout their lives how proud we are of them, and highlight the unique gifts and talents and character they bring to the world.

Patience is a critical virtue in life. We need not be patient, however, when it comes to honoring those we love.

I Almost Told Her

Rabbi Jack Riemer tells a haunting story of a funeral he conducted. As friends and family began to leave the cemetery, the husband of the deceased remained by grave. He kept repeating to the rabbi that he loved his wife. “I love my wife, ” he said. “I love my wife.”

The rabbi said “I know. The rabbi waited, and after a while, he returned to the man and said that the cemetery was closing, and it was time to go. The man answers, “I love my wife.” The rabbi answered, “I understand. But it’s time to go. The cemetery is closing.” The man replied, “You don’t understand. I love my wife. And once I almost told her.”

This inability to express our feelings is all too common. One writer calls it “emotional constipation.” Those who have it often have little trouble expressing certain feelings like anger and annoyance. Love, however, remains inside of us. Let us pledge to bring it out.

By Evan Moffic

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

 

Our Four-Legged Healers

One of the great heroes of the bible is a man named Caleb. During the forty years of wandering in the desert, he remains confident in God’s promise even  as others falter. His loyalty and commitment do not waver.

It is any surprise, therefore, that the Hebrew word for our most loyal animal is almost identical to the name Caleb. It shares the same Hebrew letters, suggesting a parallel in meaning.

Dogs embody the loyalty and love taught by the biblical Caleb.

Bring Comfort in the Wake of Tragedy

I thought of these extraordinary qualities in reading about the aftermath of Sandy Hook massacre. As children returned to school on January 3rd, they were greeted by “therapy” dogs provided by Lutheran Church Charities.

According to news reports, several children who were very hesitant to return to school decided to go when they heard the dogs would be there. Several teachers also said the dogs helped them comfort the students.

Our Best Friend

How does this spiritual comfort work? Well consider the biblical verse inscribed on the collar of one of the dogs, whose name happens to be “Moses.” Quoting the qualities of character lauded in chapter 34 of the book of Exodus, his collar reads, “Merciful and gracious, long-suffering and abundant in goodness and truth.”

Comfort can always come from man’s best friend.

By Evan Moffic

GET YOUR FREE EBOOK: HOW TO FORGIVE EVEN WHEN IT HURTS.

 

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