Archive for the ‘pro tips’ Category

Our world and our individual lives are in the process of evolving. It is not a question of rejecting the past but of letting the past flow into the present and letting this process guide us as to how to live in the future. – Jean Vanier, “Becoming Human”

Written by Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

Pope John Paul ll, speaking to church leaders about the mission of the church, once said, “We are not here to guard a museum, but rather to tend and nurture a flourishing garden.” These words, spoken by one of the most popular and influential popes in modern history, eloquently describe the importance of having a healthy, positive attitude toward the constant change that is part of our lives. Referring to the church, his words challenge those who want their church, temple, synagogue, or mosque to remain as they have always known it to be, believing that it should not change in any way.

Life moves. It is not the nature of life to be static. Think about it, has your life ever stopped changing? New things, people, and happenings are constantly coming in and out of our lives. We are personally affected by the continual movement and evolution taking place in the world. Sometimes these changes take place slowly, sometimes in the twinkling of an eye. Have you ever had the experience of looking at an old photo of yourself and trying to remember what you were thinking at that time? It is impossible, because you simply are not there anymore. You have changed and moved on from that place and time. And you will continue to change and to move on from where you are now. It is a good idea to come to terms with this most basic, inescapable fact about life: It moves. Whether you realize it or not, this is a very positive truth. Understanding it is crucial because so much of our struggle comes from our resistance to life’s continuous movement into the future.

Sometimes our response to this constant change is to cling inordinately to people or things, those we already know, those who are already a part of our life, the status quo. Fearing the unknown, which is inherent in all change, we try to hold on to what is familiar as we stand before and uncertain future. Doing this, however, comes with a price. In the words of Jean Vanier:

If we try to prevent, or ignore, the movement of life, we run the risk of falling into the inevitable depression that must accompany an impossible goal. Life evolves; change is constant. When we try to prevent the forward movement of life, we may succeed for a while but inevitably, there is an explosion; the groundswell of life’s constant movement, constant change is too great to resist.

In order to live peacefully in an ever-changing world, three things are essential: a healthy detachment, gratitude, and hope. Detachment can be seen as a decrease in our need to hold on to anyone or anything. It is a way of thinking and being that gives us the freedom to flow with life. Detachment gives us the freedom to be open to new possibilities and newness of life after something in our life changes or dies, even when we don’t understand how that newness will come to be.

Without gratitude, detachment is nothing more than indifference. To live with detachment does not mean that we simply forget and move on from the past as though everything old is bad. As stated in the opening quotation, it is a matter of allowing the past, with its enduring life values and principles – openness, love, wholeness, unity, peace, the human potential for healing and redemption, and most important, the necessity of forgiveness- to flow into the present and become integrated into what is happening today.

Likewise, we do not forget the loving people in our lives when they are separated from us by death, changes in circumstances, or when they can no longer serve our needs. Detachment does not mean that we cast aside material things without a thought when we no longer have use for them. Healthy detachment means that we look upon the people and material things of this life with gratitude. We realize that they are gifts received from a loving God, gifts that will ultimately return to God.

It is only possible to practice authentic detachment when we are in a real relationship with the Living God; and such a relationship is always grounded in hope. It is then that we are able to see and appreciate the people and the good things of this life for what they are. When we really believe that it is God who is leading us, it becomes possible to let go of people and things when the time comes to move on in our life’s journey. In this way, hope helps us to truly love and appreciate these people and things, without being possessed by them. As the words of Ecclesiastes teach us, “For everything there is a time.” The nineteenth-century Christian thinker Soren Kierkegaard, in discussing how hope forms the basis for Judaism and Christianity, described hope as “divinely sanctioned optimism, sheer promise for this life.”

Life will continue to move forward, taking us along with it, whether we like it or not. The point is that we need not be carried along kicking and screaming, fretting over and trying to control every change that comes our way. Through a healthy sense of detachment, with gratitude and hope in our hearts, we can choose to enter peacefully into the flow and evolution of life. Strive to accept life’s constant change, trusting in God’s promise and presence to guide you through all of the changes that you experience.

This article is an excerpt fromLiving at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time, by Charles W. Sidoti with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein.

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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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