Monday, June 25, 2012

What Goes Around, Comes Around

I didn’t grow up with the idea of karma in my culture but life has taught me there’s a bit of truth in the concept that “what goes around, comes around.” The good you do and the bad decisions you make always seem to find their way back to you. Like a cosmic boomerang, karma has a way of coming back and hitting you upside the head.

The question karma forces us to ask is “how am I living my life?” When you reflect on your own life how much good are you doing? Are your actions healthy and helpful or damaging and destructive? While not every bad thing that happens is a result of bad karma, when you see a pattern you have to ask yourself what role you’ve played.

So often we don’t connect the dots. What is just coincidence to some is karma to others. Like that time I followed after the woman who’d left her checkbook, then helped the man at the laundry followed by helping the family with kids at the airport. They all had left something behind and I was there to warn them.  How coincidental this could be? What if I wasn't in their path?  Simple, common courtesies that were easy to do. But later when a man at the airport train reminded me I had left my laptop in the plastic bin at security, I thought it might be something more. What if all those little gestures of decency on my part throughout the day were being returned? Like a boomerang effect. What if doing good does, in fact, lead to more good? What if unexpected kindness is just karma coming back around?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Seek Wisdom Beyond Your Years

Wouldn’t it be great if we could Google wisdom? Order it up like Chinese take-out, delivered to our doorstep in 30 minutes or less. What if we could snap our fingers and know all that life has to teach us without all the messy fumbles and failures that are often the best teachers? There’s a saying my mom used to say: mas sabe el diablo por viejo que por diablo, “the devil knows more because of being old than because of being the devil.” It seems life experience that comes with age, not position, is what matters.

So just how does one acquire wisdom? Or better yet, prudence? In my experience it goes something like this: First, you begin without knowledge. Then you gather some experience which leads you to knowledge. When you have enough of that knowledge you develop wisdom. And when you practice enough wisdom it leads to prudence. So if that’s the roadmap, just how do you go about getting started in the right direction?

It’s impossible to be wise without having lived through some things. That’s why I try to seek wisdom beyond my years. What I mean is that I try to look ahead and find others who’ve already walked the road I’m walking or about to walk and try to learn from their experiences. For example, as a new grandmother I know that there’s a lot I don’t know so I go to a friend who has already been there to get what I don’t have. If I want to know about marriage, I find a couple who’ve been together for 30 or so years and ask them ‘how do you do it?’

I look for people who’ve had success, people who’ve managed to deal with certain situations with wisdom and prudence. Like a business would choose a board of directors, I seek out those I trust. In my life there is a core group of wise men and women that I look to for direction. I take the lessons they teach so that I can then apply prudence. So while I haven’t yet dealt with a moody teenage grandson or the hurdles of retirement, there are those in my life who have and managed to do so successfully. And they, in turn, have lent me the lessons they’ve learned so I can have knowledge that exceeds my experiences and wisdom beyond my years.

Monday, June 4, 2012

When God Speaks

Have you ever felt a stirring inside yourself that you just couldn’t explain? Or heard a voice that spoke an unmistakeable message out of nowhere? When God speaks, are you listening? And when you don’t, does it sometimes seem like a never-ending nag?

Years ago, God told me to warn a close friend about doing business with a particular associate. After three months of that persistent voice in my head, I finally delivered the message. As someone who didn’t believe in spiritual things, my friend took my cautionary tale as “women’s intuition” or simply a good hunch. All I know is that once I told him my concerns, the voice stopped nagging me. It was as if I had done my part, and now the load was no longer mine to bear. In the end, the warning was heeded and the concern was well merited.

I’d like to say I was always so obedient but it wouldn’t be the truth. The next time I was given a message for a friend, I chose not to speak up. I kept telling myself “it’s none of your business. Don’t get involved.” In the end, my silence cost him a great deal of money. Years later, I got up the courage to reveal the message I’d received and failed to deliver. I asked him to forgive me for not warning him. I had learned a lesson: I have a responsibly to pass on the messages I’ve been given.

I guess you could say I learned through both my obedience and my lack thereof. When I listened to what turned out to be truth, my faith in God’s voice and my ability to hear it was reaffirmed. When I didn’t, I learned from the consequences of failing to do so. It was a lesson that came in the nick of time, and one that I could not have afforded to miss.

The same voice came to me when I was driving home late one night with my daughter, Viviana. The traffic light had just turned green on a very busy road when I felt something inside of me telling me to stay where I was and NOT GO. This time, I did not move or question the message. “Why are you stopped?” she asked.

How do you tell your teenage daughter that a voice has warned you? I was just imaging her shaking her head and rolling her eyes at me when a car came flying past us at break-neck speed. If I’d have gone seconds earlier, she would have undoubtably been killed. At that very moment, I knew that God had spoken.

I now know that the progress of learning to hear God’s voice is just that...a progression. He starts with small things and builds on them; teaching you through trial and error so that when the ultimate test of life comes, you are listening when He speaks.