...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Comparison that Works

In order to compare ourselves with others, it's necessary to first take our focus off the primal grace of God's love and engage what the renowned preacher and teacher John Claypool called the "side-long" glance. It's the look of envy and when it becomes habitual, leads to misery. As my Mom would say, "Don't make funny faces, it will freeze in that same position the rest of your life."

The side-long glance prevents us from seeing what's ahead for us because we see only what we're not. Seeing what we're missing can lead us to life, if it leads us to seek God. But what if comparison thinking only allows ingratitude to grow deeper roots? Can we then blame the church or God or anyone else for our unhappiness and lack of spiritual movement? How can we take the next step forward if we don't focus on what's ahead?

John Claypool's quote in this regard comes from a sermon of his, "Life Isn't Fair, Thank God." May it heal your spirit- and restore gratitude for the wonder of our birth and the miracle of our life:
[But] I will give you a fail safe formula for how to live your life in joy and that is compare your particular situation at this moment with what you had a year before you were born. I entered the stage of history December 15, 1930. December 15, 1929, John Claypool did not exist. I had no body. I had no being.... As soon as I stay in touch with the fact that my sheer birth is windfall, that my life has been given to me as an incredible gift, then something deeper than justice becomes the way that I look at this whole mystery of existence. If it ever stays with us that life is gift and birth is windfall, then we can begin to be generous with our lives exactly as God has been generous with God's life.
God guard our minds and spirits and lead us in the paths of life.

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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