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Use your mental powers for good!  I’m not saying that everything you experience is “in your head,” but we do have an incredible ability to shift things towards the positive as well as the negative.  Sadly, I sometimes think I do more negative shifting. Fortunately, God sends me little nudges and a wide variety of chances to go positive.  That said, there are things that are just bad and sad such as the bombing in Manchester.  At those times, I have to remember to get out of my head and pray.

 

If ever there was a guy who seems to have it all, I’d nominate Hugh Jackman. He’s handsome, rich, famous and seems like a genuinely decent guy.

But let me just say this. He’s so multi-talented – it could be argued – he’s putting other people out of business. Think about it.

We need a dancer for this scene! Oh, wait. Hugh can do it.

We need a singer with the ability to tackle semi-operatic songs. Oh, wait…

This cat can do comedy, drama, stage, screen, song, dance.

I mean, even if he worked at the Amazon warehouse, I can imagine….

We’ve got to open all these boxes to get them ready for shipment. Anyone on staff with box-cutter fingernails? Say a mythical hero with epic sideburns? You there, with the Aussie accent! Let’s slash some boxes! By the way, do you always wear tap shoes to work?

Once, when Oprah’s TV show visited Australia, Hugh greeted her, flying in on a wire over the crowd to the stage. Something malfunctioned, though, and he landed abruptly, causing a gash to his face. After a moment, he shook it off like a sheepdog and the show went on.

What’s this guy’s secret sauce, anyway?!? This quote from Jackman says it all: “I believe actually the more you do something, the less frightening it becomes because you start to realize the outcome is not as important as you think.”

Tina Fey told the story of how her co-star from 30 Rock, Tracy Morgan, had mispronounced the Aussie star’s name as, “Jack Hughman,” and that tickled me. If we were to name a kind of prototype male of the human species, it would be a name like Jack Human. And it would be a guy like Hugh Jackman.

I think the reason he’s such a success is that he doesn’t dwell on failures.

I know you don’t expect to hear a story about a celebrity on a prayer blog, but my theory is, you take wisdom from any source that rings true. Here’s something that can’t be denied: Hugh can do it. You can, too!

Take a deep breath and smile.

AugsburgThe easiest way to irritate me is to not listen. Interrupt me. Talk over me. Ignore me. And apparently I’m not the only one.

Early this past week, a group of high school students at a local high school held a demonstration. Their school district, Hazelwood, like many districts is facing money problems. They’ve tackled it by cutting band and orchestra, reducing activity buses, not replacing teachers. Students and parents have tried to attend board meetings.  Comments are closed. Meetings are moved behind closed doors.  No one is listening.

Students came up with a way to be heard.  They went after the district where it would hurt – statistics. Two hundred students walked out of finals. One hundred refused to return to class and were suspended. The seniors couldn’t walk in the graduation ceremony, those with A+ Scholarships (2 years of college tuition) lost the scholarships, and student athletes were kicked off their teams.

Not surprisingly, the community raised a ruckus. Fine, fine, said the principal.  That guy there?  On the track and field team? He can compete for us, representing the school, on Saturday but not walk through graduation. I listened. Are you happy?

Oddly enough, no one really felt like he had listened. They pointed out that according to the student handbook the lowest possible punishment calls for detention. The highest suspension, but students must be informed of the reason and length of suspension in writing, they should have a chance to present their side of the story to the principal and the parents must be informed 24 hours in advance. Although the handbook calls for listening and communication, none of this happened.

The ACLU stepped up and the word lawsuit came into play. This, the principal heard. Suspensions are rescinded but the community is divided between those who think the kids are getting off easy and those who are relieved injustice has been curbed.

The whole situation reminds me of the Persistent Widow (Luke 18:1-8). She demanded that the unjust judge hear her. She eventually wore him down and received justice.

This protest was a long time in coming. The district has ignored parents and teachers.  They ignored students and the community. They refused to listen until the ACLU said “lawsuit.”

If you are one of the many prayerful who is working for social justice or educational opportunities in your community, pray for patience.  Pray for strength. Pray for listening ears. And while you pray, listen. It is the only way to hear.

–SueBE

One world. Many faiths.

Reaching out to those that God calls us to help.  Board by board, step by step.

I like to think that one of my gifts — my ministries, really — is prayer. I’ve always prayed vigorously for others, and I believe that prayer is powerful. That’s why I was so affected by a recent situation, one that dramatically revealed the limits of my charity.

“Pray for them,” my friend asked me. But I couldn’t do it; not the way she wanted me to. She was speaking of her employers, oil investors who grew used to a lifestyle that includes three mansions, dozens of vintage automobiles and a lifetime of lavish spending. And why not? They were making in the mid-five figures every month. Then the oil market took a downturn.

Suddenly, they find themselves having to contemplate selling one of their homes, liquidating a coin collection, borrowing from family. They’ve hinted that they might have to cut my friend’s hours. (My friend is 76 years old, supporting her grown children, with no retirement date on the horizon.)

I don’t mean to disparage these people. They may very well be much better people than I can ever hope to be. My friend certainly idolizes them. So what was my problem? Why did I say, “Yes,” even as my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth?

Praying for the oil market to return to its former profitability wouldn’t just help my friend’s employers. There are lots of good people who work hard for oil companies, who deserve raises and steady employment. It would be good for the economy of certain states whose coffers could use a nudge. But I still can’t mouth the words that would potentially help them.

I don’t think reliance on oil is good for the environment. But that’s not my real reason for not praying. It’s this: I simply cannot pray for the rich to get richer. And that says more about me than them.

Am I jealous? Maybe. It would be nice to have that kind of money. Am I too busy judging them to pray? Yes, certainly. That they did not save money, that they frittered it away, bothers me. But who am I to judge someone else’s spending habits? My own savings are ludicrously small.

In the end, it comes down to this: I am at ease praying for those on the margins, the struggling, the poor. White, wealthy and powerful? Not so much. God doesn’t judge, but apparently, I do. And that’s a problem.

Like my post of two weeks ago, I didn’t write this for assurances that I’ve done the right thing; it’s a genuine wonderment: When someone asks you to pray for something you don’t like/condone/care for, what do you do? If you do pray, do you worry that it is inauthentic? How do you keep judgment out of it?

I’ve settled for praying that my friends’ employers will find a way to live within their means without causing deprivation for my friend. It’s not what she asked for. It may even be sinful of me. But it did provide me with a moment of self-revelation.

I’m not altogether comfortable with the results. Maybe I need my own miracle, of the heart-softening variety. Maybe someone should pray for me.

And when you walk, walk in kindness.

How you treat “outsiders” says a lot.

Because sometimes we all take ourselves just a little too seriously. Remember to laugh.  I’m sure God does (which will probably be my post for Saturday, sigh).

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