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You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

– unknown

What's worse than struggling with pride? Add sensitivity to the mix and it becomes almost impossible to accept criticism or correction with patience and grace. 

Like anyone else, I have my good qualities and strengths, and God has helped me overcome many, many issues in my life. But, even at my age, and even though it has shrunk significantly, insecurity still lurks in the corners of my heart, waiting for an opportunity to make an appearance and bring me down. All it needs is a comment from someone that makes me feel like I'm not good enough or that my efforts are unappreciated or that my progress is unnoticed. The trap door opens and beckons me toward a downward spiral. Only asking God for mercy and humility can keep my feet above ground. 

The thing is, when someone criticizes me, if I don't deal with it properly, it becomes more than just me feeling bad about myself. I can easily turn things around in my mind and silently accuse them of being critical, ungrateful, harsh, insensitive. And that makes me just as guilty as the person who hurt my feelings. (Unfortunately, I occasionally verbalize those thoughts, too.)

Worse, I conventiently forget about all the times I've made others feel less-than with my words, especially the people I care about most. . . the people whose criticism is hardest for me to swallow. If I hate criticism so much, why do I dish it out? Do I assume others are less sensitive or feeling than I am?  

Jesus clearly said: "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Luke 6:31). Eleven simple words to live by. Simple but HARD. Impossible, really, unless you're willing to die to self first. Paul wrote: "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me" (Galatians 2:20). I can't be Christ-like in my relationships if my big old Self is sitting on the throne of my heart. As Mercy Me eloquently put it, "So long, self!"

Think about the person who gets your hackles up and makes you feel small, unworthy, or unappreciated. Instead of feeling resentful, can you pray for him or her this week? Can you find a reason to thank God for that person's presence in your life? Can you find a way to be a blessing to this person? Can you treat them the way Christ would, keeping in mind that they were created by and are loved by Him? 


Have a great Monday!

Music
Have you ever heard the duduk being played? A woodwind instrument indegenous to Armenia, it has the most haunting, emotive sound of any instrument I've ever heard. My dad recently sent me this lovely duduk / violin duet I think you'll enjoy. I also want to share The Dead Seas. It isn't only my favourite duduk piece. . . it is the one piece of any music I've heard in my lifetime (and I grew up in the church so I've heard a lot of music) that has etched itself deeply and permanently on my soul. Perhaps a story for another time. 

Nature
I'm constantly amazed by how many species of animals, insects, flowers, trees, and fruit I've never heard of before. Here's a fun example, courtesy of Sheri Hathaway who had posted something about it on Facebook: the Jabuticaba, a grape tree found in southern Brazil, which bears its fruit on its trunk instead of on its branches. 

Pro Tips
I recently started following James Clear, a productivity expert and author of Atomic Habits. He swears by the Ivy Lee method, a daily routine that is supposed to increase efficiency. Have any of you tried this system? I might give it a go!

Kids
Parents of young kids, you can download and print out the latest Adventures in Odyssey Fun and Games Bible activity booklet from Focus on the Family. Note that the link they will send you will also give you access to the 2021 booklet.



If you have any stories, ideas, or links you think might be a good fit for this "try these" section, please send them to me! If I use any of them, I'll give you credit as the finder. 

EIDETIC

(adj) marked by or involving extraordinarily accurate and vivid recall especially of visual images

Hat tip to Janice Potvin for suggesting this week's word.

Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become.

– James Clear

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