Archive for the ‘Influencing Others’ Category

There is a classic psychological question you may be familiar with that is related to our ability to wait on God: “If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?”

This article is an excerpt from,Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” Written by Charles W. Sidoti.

When we pray the words of the Serenity Prayer (short version), “God, 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,” we present God with three requests:

1) The first request is for the ability to accept the things that we cannot change. Here we ask God to help us to entrust those things that are outside of our control to God. And it right to ask for this, for we need to let God do God’s part.

2) In the second request we ask God to give us the courage to “change the things we can.” In this request we ask God for the courage to do the things that are within our control in order to change those things in our lives that need to be changed. It is right to ask for this, for this is our part.

3) In the last line, we ask God for the wisdom to know the difference between the two. It is in this final part of the prayer where peace is to be found, because it helps us to separate what is our part from what is God’s part. We need to do our part, and we can rest assured that God will do God’s part.

It may take what seems a very long time for the work God is doing to evolve to a point where we can perceive it. Often, it is only in hindsight that we can perceive what God has done. It is important to realize that there is an in-between time that we all experience in our faith life. It is the time that comes after I have done what is within my control to change my life, while still waiting on God’s part to be realized.

Living patiently with joyful hope in the in-between time can be one of the most challenging and yet most rewarding things we can learn to do. For an action-oriented person, the in-between time can seem like a time in which not much is happening, or at least not happening in the way, or as rapidly, as we would want it to occur. If we are experiencing a fearful or lonely period in our life, it can be especially difficult.

This in-between time can seem like an awful desert. We may quickly grow impatient and begin trying to implement changes ourselves. That is certainly not always wrong, but more often than not, actions motivated by our impatience don’t obtain positive or lasting results. We need to learn to become more comfortable living in the in-between period, giving God time to do God’s part. If we can learn to be patient during this period, we will discover that is is possible to find a balance between when to make things happen and when to let things happen. We will gradually come to understand that the in-between time that we may perceive as being a kind of down time is actually quite fertile. Things are developing and taking shape during this period, although we may be unaware of them.

The ability to let God do God’s part, to be patient during the in-between time, depends largely on whether we really believe anything is happening while we are waiting. There is a classic psychological question you may be familiar with that is related to our ability to wait on God: ”If a tree falls in the forest ant there is no one there to hear it, does it still make a sound?” To believe that a tree falling in the forest, without anyone there to hear it, truly does make a sound requires a certain level of spiritual development and trust. The answer to this question can be an indication of whether a person truly realizes that he or she is not God, or instead has a false, inflated sense of his or her own importance and ability to control life. It suggests a level of growth in which we are able to perceive God as “Other,” and that is significant. It means that we truly believe there is a Higher Power (referred to by many as God) who can and does act upon our life in ways that may yet be unknown or at least unclear to us. That belief, that knowledge, makes it possible for us to wait.

Neither making things happen nor letting things happen is right for every situation. There are times when it is appropriate to take action and other times in which waiting a situation out, allowing it to evolve, is the right thing to do. It is important to realize that both stances, both attitudes toward facing particular situations, are required of us at different times. It is in learning to discern which manner of approaching life is appropriate for a particular situation that inner peace is to be found. It can be helpful to ask yourself from time to time, in relation to whatever might be happening in your life, “At this time, should I be making things happen or letting things happen? Is what I am focusing my attention on now within my power to change, or is it outside of my control?” Trust that the answer will intuitively come to you, and allow yourself to be guided by it.

Connecting Point: Most of the time, giving a situation time to evolve is a good idea. Learn to trust in the slow work of God in your life. Although you may not be aware of it, trust that it is taking place, because it is. How do you want to spend your in-between time: fretting…or confident, trusting that God will do God’s part?

Prayer: Loving God, letting go after I have done what I can, and trusting that you are at work in my life in ways yet unknown to me is difficult. Help me to trust during my in-between time so that I may have the peace of mind of knowing in my heart that eventually “all shall be well.” Help me to realize that your work in my life does not depend on me always being aware of what you are doing. Grant that I may give you the benefit and the respect of trusting that you are doing your part. Amen. 

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For details about “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” visit: https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

An excerpt from,”Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” by Charles W. Sidoti with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein,- Learn more at: https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

As coordinator of spiritual care at the hospital I am sometimes called upon to conduct memorial services and other types of religious services for the hospital staff, patients, and visitors. Unless a service is specifically for a particular faith group, such as a Communion service for Catholics, my goal is to have it be an interfaith experience, where people from any religious tradition will feel welcome and included. Sometimes I work with members of the local community clergy in developing particular services. Most of them are very happy to participate in developing an interfaith service which always turns out beautifully.

There was one time, however, when the interfaith spirit was not present. A local church leader who wanted to conduct a city-sponsored, community prayer service in honor of the annual National Day of Prayer contacted me. She had already been in touch with several church leaders and was calling to invite me to the planning meeting at City Hall. At the meeting, I noticed that there were only Christian clergy represented. I listened to the ideas being presented about planning the service. It sounded like it was going to be a Christian service pure and simple. No one brought up that since this was to be a community event, it was only right to include clergy from the community’s other religious groups (non Christian) in the planning.

I mentioned that I had noticed there were only Christian clergy represented at the meeting, and that as a hospital representative on the committee, I needed to be sure the program would be a true interfaith event in order for me to participate.

The immediate response I received seemed cordial enough. One person spoke up, saying, “Yes, we probably should do that to be politically correct.” Someone else chimed in saying, “Okay, we will invite the rabbi and the imam to be correct, all of us are grounded in the truth. We all know what it’s really all about.” I felt like I was at a “Good Old Boys’ Club” gathering where it was assumed that everyone felt the same way.

I was quiet for a moment as I processed what I heard. Then feeling as if I was going to burst, I said, “I’m sorry but I don’t agree with that. I don’t think that we should invite them (the rabbi and imam) as a token in order to be politically correct but really not value them. I don’t see it that way at all. I feel that the participation of other faith traditions will enrich the program.” There was silence. I’m sure there were others who felt the same way, but no one else spoke up. At any rate no one challenged me.

It is not only Christians who can practice religious bigotry. This underlying attitude toward other people’s beliefs can be found in every religion. Most often it is kept hidden, harming the person who thinks that way more than anyone else. If you believe that your way, your belief, is the only way, and that everyone else is either wrong or misinformed, in addition to the ill will you create, you cut yourself off from the spiritual riches and wisdom that other faith traditions have to offer.

In my daily work as a chaplain, I work with many people, including religious leaders from several different faiths. If I am welcomed to pray with someone who is Jewish, whether it is a Psalm or some specific prayer from his or her tradition, or with a person who practices Islam, I am honored and humbled and consider myself tremendously blessed by the experience.

In my heart there is no barrier between me and another person who is reaching out for God’s healing and peace within the context of his or her own religious tradition. I have found that I do not have to know everything about a particular religion to be welcomed by a person who practices it. I just have to convey that I respect and honor them and their spiritual path. Honoring, respecting, and welcoming other people and their beliefs into my life is the key that has opened many doors for me with those people, and provided a wealth of spiritual growth as well.

Connecting Point: Today, consider how you really feel about religions other than your own. Do you believe that other religious beliefs have anything to offer that can enrich your spiritual journey?

Prayer: Good and gracious God, help me to live in your world free from the divisiveness that religion can create. Instead, help me to realize that other people’s beliefs lead them to you as the beliefs that I hold dear lead me. Grant that I may never tread upon another’s dreams or beliefs. Amen.

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living-at-gods-speed-healing-in-gods-timeThis article is an excerpt from,”Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” by Charles W. Sidoti with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein,- $14.95 Learn more at:   https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X 

 

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By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC, author of, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time, and Simple Contemplative Spirituality

As a hospital chaplain I am called upon to serve people from various faiths. My role is to help them to get in touch with their own spiritual resources, which may involve different religious practices and beliefs, and to help provide for those specific needs. My personal faith and religious formation is that of a Catholic Christian.

Far and away one of the most helpful things we can learn on our spiritual journey is to appreciate the religious beliefs of other people. One of the greatest blessings I have received as a hospital chaplain is exposure to religious traditions and beliefs of people that are different than my own. Sometimes I am invited to participate in those religious practices. These times have provided a priceless opportunity to learn about other faiths, thereby enriching my own spirituality by transcending the religious barriers that tend to keep people apart.

I recently heard a speaker use the term “Cultural Humility.” I had never heard it before and it immediately intrigued me. Cultural Humility is a term that was coined to describe a way of infiltrating multiculturalism by healthcare professionals. Going beyond the idea of Cultural Competency, Cultural Humility focuses on self-reflection, fostering mutual respect, and lifelong learning between cultures.

The concept of “Cultural Humility” reminds me of the following quotation which I think epitomizes the term (adjusted slightly to be inclusive):

Our first task in approaching another people, another culture,   another religion, is to take off our shoes, for the place we are approaching is holy. Else we may find ourselves treading on another’s dream. More serious still, we may forget that the Universal Creative Life Energy (referred to by many as God) was present before our arrival.  (Raymond Hummer)

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“Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” – on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

As human beings we must learn to respond differently to the people and situations in life that “turn our crank.”

This article is an excerpt from, Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,written by Charles W. Sidoti.

Believing that it is possible to change, that it is possible to become less fearful and controlling and to become more trusting and free, is an important first step toward inner peace. My wife, Tina, helped me to see this truth in a new and interesting way. She once made the comment, “You shouldn’t respond to things that happen in your life like a Jack-in-the-Box!” I immediately received a mental picture from her simile and recognized it as a wonderful way to understand the responsibility that we have as human beings to grow. I pictured in my mind the Jack-in-the-Box children’s toy, the familiar colored box with the crank on the side that plays music as you turn the crank until the top flies open and the “Jack” springs out and surprises you. The point is that when you turn the crank you get the same response from the toy every time. As human beings we must learn to respond differently to the people and situations in life that turn our crank. We are not Jack-in-the-Boxes.

The day after my wife shared her Jack-in-the-Box observation with me, the chief executive officer of the hospital where I work announced her decision to resign and go to work at another hospital. I had known the outgoing CEO for many years and knew that she valued my position as hospital chaplain. I was not at all sure that the new CEO would value my role in the same way. I was worried that I might lose my job.

As soon as I heard the news I went into the hospital chapel to mentally process the information. I felt the familiar sense of panic begin as I thought about all the possible implications for my job with a new CEO taking over. Then the Jack-in-the Box story popped into my mind. I literally found myself asking God to help not to respond like a Jack-in-the-Box. This helped me to open up and realize that there were many other possibilities that lay beyond my own negative thoughts about the situation. It freed me from the endless cycle of compulsively focusing on what “I thought” needed to happen. With the help of the Jack-in-the-Box imagery I was able to respond differently than I normally would. I decided not to panic, but instead to wait. I allowed the situation to take its course as I looked for evidence of God’s hand in the unfolding events. This experience affirmed for me that there really is a higher power at work in my life, a power that I can trust in, that remains in control when things happen in life that are outside of my ability to control.

Connecting Point: Think for a moment about your own responses to the events and people in your life that turn your crank. Do you often respond in the same way to them? Choose to live in the dignity that is yours realizing that you have a choice in the way you respond. Exercising your right to choose your responses instead of just going along with your same familiar knee-jerk reactions can be the key that unlocks the door to a whole new way of approaching life’s circumstances, and a whole new level of emotional freedom.

Prayer: Loving God, thank you for calling me to grow as a human being. I do not always live out the dignity that you have blessed me with by calling me to be your child. Help me to live in the freedom for which you created me by responding to the events and people in my life thoughtfully, and not like a Jack-in-the-Box. Help me, Lord, to believe and to trust you enough to wait and allow your work to evolve from within each situation of my life. Amen.

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View it on Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Contents: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_TOC.pdf

Read the Introduction: http://pastoralplanning.com/23rdBookParts/LivingGodsSpeed_Intro

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