Posts Tagged humor

Take No Bitterness into the New Year


          Many people regard New Year’s Resolutions with the same disdain they attribute to the much maligned fruitcake. I am a proponent of both. For several years now I have made the same New Year’s resolution and I ask God to help me to keep it.  I will take no bitterness into the New Year. Whatever has happened during the past twelve months that tends to sour my disposition, cause me pain and create separation, I resolve to let go. Whatever offenses I have suffered will not be dragged into the New Year. Forgiveness is not as easy as it might sound. Partly it requires developing a thicker skin and realizing that I take far too many things personally. I need to lighten up. This is one of the concepts my friend, Dr. Monty Knight, discusses in his book, Balanced Living; Don’t Let Your Strengths Become Your Weakness. Continuing with Monty’s philosophy, I don’t have to go to every fight to which I am invited. That is a major concept. Let it go. Tom Newboult, a minister of religious education, once told me that sin is giving more importance to the moment than it is worth. In other words, don’t dwell in the negative. I think Tom hit the nail on the head. What a great concept! Turning a negative into a positive is another methodology for dealing with difficult situations. Since I administered a not-for-profit agency for most of my career, I would often be attacked with, “Well, Mitch, you are just an idealist.” My reply became, “Thank you. I hope so.” The main thing about forgiveness for those of us who are Christian to remember is that we are able to forgive because we have been forgiven. Susan Sparks in her book, Laugh Your Way to Grace, suggests that we rediscover the power of humor. She maintains that we take ourselves far too seriously. We need to repackage some of the comments that cause us pain. Bitterness is a terrible task master. It will ruin your life and suck all the goodness you receive into a dark hole. I recommend a proactive approach. Go on an active campaign to make those around you glad that you are there. Build them up by helping them feel good about themselves. Say something nice. Compliment him or her in a real genuine way. Call the person by name. Offer a specific compliment about a real accomplishment. On the other hand when you receive a compliment acknowledge it graciously with a simple “thank you.” In my book, Christian Civility in an Uncivil World, I discuss the power of words, but I am by no means the first to come to that conclusion. The psalmist said, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable unto thee, oh God, my strength and my redeemer.” Dr. Arthur Caliandro gets right to the heart of the matter with a three word solution. “Life is now.” That statement is stunning in its simplicity. Live in the present. Don’t drag past hurts into today. I was part of a vivid demonstration of this principle. We were planning one of the annual John Hamrick Lectures while Dr. John was still living. A potential speaker was being considered. I called the speaker to extend an invitation. He told me that because he and Dr. Hamrick had been involved on opposite sides of a controversy, he would only come if Dr. Hamrick approved. When I told Dr. Hamrick of my conversation he didn’t hesitate. “That was then. This is now.” Wow!

            I make no claim that getting rid of bitterness is an easy task. You and I have experienced great hurts. Unfortunately we have also inflicted great hurts. I know that I am in the process of becoming and that God is not finished with me. Practicing my resolution of taking no bitterness into the New Year has helped me live a more productive, less stressful life. I believe you will experience the same happy results if you give it a try.

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Thankful Thursday – Rabbi Anthony D. Holz, DD

            On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the blessings that Rabbi Tony Holz has brought to my life. He is now the retired Rabbi Emeritus of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim. I first met Rabbi Holz when I took my graduate classes studying the not-for-profit sector of our economy on tours there. Synogogs, churches, and religious institutions are a large part of that sector. Rabi Holz graciously spoke to those groups. I admired his ability to field a question that offered him an opportunity to take a swipe at other religious groups and turn it into a teaching opportunity.  He handled every situation with kindness and tact.  He also displayed a great sense of humor. As is often the case I usually learned more than my students. Of course, the synagogue itself is such a beautiful treasure for the city. I encourage all the tourists who come to First Baptist Church to tour there as well. Rabbi Holz grew up and was educated n Cape Town, South Africa. He was ordained in 1970 and came to Charleston in 1992. He was awarded the Doctor of Divinity degree in 1995. He has helped me grow in my understanding and appreciation of other religious traditions and I am very grateful. The more I learn and understand other traditions, the more I am able to understand my own. On this Thankful Thursday, I am very grateful for the gifts that Rabbi Anthony Holz brings to my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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Thankful Thursday – Clarence Glover

On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the gifts that Clarence Glover brings to my life. Clarence grew up on Johns Island, graduated from Clemson, and went into the army. He spent his career at the Charleston Navy Shipyard as an engineer. He and his long suffering wife Sarah are pillars at First Baptist Church of Charleston. Clarence has a real sense of humor and is a genuine cut-up. In fact my wife, Carol, says that we can no longer sit together at meetings because we feed off each other and disrupt everything. What I admire most about Clarence other than the fact that what you see is what you get, is that he is able to get to the heart of the matter. He can and does ask the difficult questions that no one else will ask. He served as clerk during part of my term as church moderator. I could count on Clarence to get the minutes both concise and accurate. It is not an easy task. Clarence enjoys flying his own airplane and tried his best to kill me when I was reckless enough to fly with him. When that didn’t work, he flew over the waters surrounding Folly Beach and showed me all of the sharks out there. He clearly indicated that they would enjoy a good Mitch meal. He is devoted to Sarah, his children and grandchildren. Clarence brings a real gift to my life. He is the rare individual who can disagree without being disagreeable. He is a booster of Say Something Nice Sunday. On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the presence of Clarence Glover in my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our appreciation. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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Thankful Thursday – The Rev. Marshall Blalock

On this Thankful Thursday I am thankful for the gifts that The Rev. R. Marshall Blalock brings to my life. Marshall is the senior pastor of Charleston’s historic First Baptist Church. He is a staunch supporter of the Hamrick Lectureship and Say Something Nice Sunday. Both events have brought him some undeserved criticism. I like his response, “The members of First Baptist are sophisticated enough to decide for themselves.” When I first presented the idea of Say Something Nice Sunday to him, he was immediately enthusiastic. Without his blessing, the idea would have died on the spot. Marshall is a good cook, especially of Frogmore stew and red rice. These are great skills for a Baptist preacher to have. Marshall has a good sense of humor. He has a vision for missions that is contagious. We are a little bit worried about him since his only daughter will go away to college in the fall. First Baptist Charleston is an usually complex place with almost every viewpoint of Baptist identity represented and yet the overwhelming spirit of love for one another engulfs the congregation. To his great credit, he has managed to keep national politics out of the pulpit. The church honors the contributions of women having elected women as deacons since the late 1960s. There are dozens of activities taking place at all times. Marshall is required to perform a constant juggling act. In spite of the recession the church is doing well and Marshall remains enthusiastic about the future of the 329 year old church. On this Thankful Thursday I am grateful for the gifts that Marshall Blalock brings to my life.  The photograph is by Mervyn Gibson and  is used by permission.

Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the contributions of someone special to our lives and to tell her or him of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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