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Currently, I am taking a Yale class on happiness called “The Science of Well-Being.”  This is my first psychology class and the professor is discussing what we think makes us happy vs what really makes us happy.  One of the first things that we did was take a character survey to find out which traits are strongest in each of our personalities.

When I saw this quote, it really rang true for me. But then again I just found out that it is official.  Among my top five traits are judgement and bravery.  I wasn’t really happy when I saw the term “judgement” but then I read what it means.  This isn’t about being judgmental.  Instead it is about being able to look at all sides of an issue. Bravery is described as a willingness to act or speak up about something even if your take on things is unpopular.

The quote above pretty well summarizes the last few weeks for me.  The only Planned Parenthood clinic in Missouri is on the verge of being closed down.  Ooooo, Planned Parenthood!  I can feel hackles going up across the blog-osphere.

When you say Planned Parenthood, many people think abortion but not all of their clinics perform abortions.  They also provide medical exams for women who don’t have insurance and can’t afford to pay the bill at your typical OB/GYN’s office.  There are college students and young working women who get their PAP smears and well-woman exams at Planned Parenthood.  That’s right.  They go there for cancer screenings not to get rid of unwanted fetuses.

If you don’t approve of abortion, I get it.  But I also see the much larger part of what Planned Parenthood does which includes saving lives through early diagnosis. And if not condemning this organization is an unpopular stance among Christians?  See Bravery, trait #5 on my list.

I hope we can be civil to each other even when we disagree, but even if we disagree, I’m willing to take a stand for women who need the health care Planned Parenthood provides.

–SueBE

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Taking that first step can seem awfully scary.  Sometimes it means going against a long-held belief.  Praying in public freaks me out.  Truly panics me.  In part, I had a minister tell by how very bad I am at it.  She’s right but that sure didn’t help.  In fact, I panic so badly that I can’t even get the Lord’s Prayer right.  Did you know that was once considered a sign of witch craft?  I’d be in big trouble.

I’m teaching a section of Adult Sunday School again.  I’ve resigned myself to reading a prayer at the end of each lesson.  Now I need to convince my co-teacher to let me do it.

Take the first step can be even worse if you are making a change in a long-term situation such as leaving a job or a marriage.  Leaving after five/ten/fifteen years feels like failure.  Does it mean all those years were wasted?  A friend has moved out.  Recently she asked me why I’m not praising her for dumping the goon or warning her about ruining her marriage.  It seems that most everyone else has taken sides.

“Would it help?”

“I’m really scared and it just makes me mad.  This is a forty-year marriage I might have just totalled.  It isn’t a good thing!”

We discussed how the change was needed for her mental health and his.  We talked about how if the marriage ends, it is sad because they’ve been together for a long time.  But it could also be good if it shakes them out of patterns that no longer worked for either one of them.

And we prayed. Yeah, she’s the one who led it but that’s okay.  She’s got a plan for me.  I’m more than a little scared to find out what it is.

–SueBE

 

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? The difference between the two is often defined by the old “is the glass half full or half empty?” conundrum. Guess what? Turns out it doesn’t matter what you think about the glass. We are all, deep down, optimists, or we wouldn’t be here.

Reading the news can get you down. It does me, anyway. Just scanning the headlines convinces me that the world is a dark, ugly, little place full of small-minded, uneducated people who just want to watch the world burn and toast marshmallows on the flames. But the news doesn’t tell the whole truth. Not that the news is in any way “fake” — a phrase I detest — but simply that it cannot cover the complex entirety of the modern human condition. Even I can spot the better headline: “Man Kills Dozens” will always triumph over “Man Happily Distributes Free Lemonade and Hugs.”

But you turned up this morning for all of this news — bad and good (mostly bad) — didn’t you? You got out of bed. You put on your socks (or omitted them; it’s kind of too hot for socks). You gave your body fuel and opened your front door. Congratulations! You are officially an optimist. And pretty darned brave, to boot.

Do you think it takes more than just showing up to show courage? Maybe. But for any thinking person it’s more than enough. To watch bad things happen and still say, “You know what? I’m going out there anyway” is a testament to human resilience. After being ejected from the Garden of Eden, did Adam and Eve just pack it in and give up? Nope. Even though they’d lost access to unbridled happiness, they went on anyway. This kind of steel is precisely what God knew we would need to function in the world.

So if you’re here today, reading this, and just trying to bumble through life, I salute you. Thank you for continuing to take a chance on the world. Thank you for not giving up or giving in. The world needs you. I need you. Don’t give up. Despite what it says in the news or anywhere else, most of us are just like you. We’re trying. It is the stuff of superheroes, of saints. It is brave.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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