As we peregrinate across life’s meandering pathways, certain facts come alive to us – some that have been passed on by wise people of the yesteryears, some that trusted elders have shared over generations and some that we ourselves discover. While all such pearls of wisdom do not come in a one-size-fits-all garb, there are certain generic overarching ones that are meant to be the guiding lights for everyone’s feet.
There are five such messages that I would like to share with the readers of Candles Online – those principles that I myself strive to practice and profess at all times seeking strength from God.
- Love all – Two heavy weighted promising words, advised with ease but need to conquer too many battles of the mind to attain fruition. Love is an attribute instilled in the human heart by the Creator who is Love. Because God is Love and He has created man in His image, there is always the yearning inside every soul to love and be loved. No exceptions to this! Think for a while, when you want your desire for love to be fulfilled by people around you, isn’t it also imperative that you strive to fulfill the same desire in others? However, we tend to cage love within self-drawn boundaries. There are times when this seems best. Think of someone by whom you have been hurt. Doesn’t it seem impossible to even think of loving that person ever again? But, this is what God expects of us. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” It is no big deal to love those who love you and care for you. (Well, actually even this is falling short in the world today!) But, to love those who hate you, seems to be an other-worldly attribute that is too hard to think of. This is where human strength and understanding need to tap on God’s strength to show the same grace to others that He shows unto us day by day in spite of our iniquities.
- Increase your latitude of acceptance – Each of us has a different set of values, thoughts, attributes, beliefs, and lifestyles. What is commonly observed is that we find difficulty in accepting anything that doesn’t match ours. With rising intolerance in the world around us, differences are projected as reasons for exclusion. Affinity is often defined by similarities. However, it is prudent to note that God has created each person differently, blessed each one with certain strengths and weaknesses and put everyone together. God is not foolish in His design. He accepts us as we are and loves all! He causes the rain and the sunshine on all without discrimination. If the Creator doesn’t show the disparity in His love and acceptance, who then has taught us to differentiate and segregate? Do spare a thought about it in quietness. The only areas of non-acceptance and non-compromise ought to be sinful ways – because sin is against the nature of God. Let us accept people with differences and learn to love them. Love permeates barriers of all sorts!
- Strive to know the truth – Children are taught values and mannerisms by parents. And, they carry them forward. That is how customs and traditions are born and sustained generation after generation. This is what makes each family, each culture, each race unique and different from others. While imbibing what is passed down to us, it is important to know things for ourselves as well. In a day and age of rampant consumerism, commercialization, and digitization, many mindless practices are in vogue. To top it all, every action is rationalised. To give an example, last week I came across ‘July 29 – National Lipstick Day’. Well, nothing against wearing lipstick; I too wear them. But, something called National Lipstick Day seemed to be a bit too much (my personal view). As I researched into it, I didn’t find much reason for the day’s observance. We are part of such and many other beliefs and practices. It is essential to know the truth behind all things before following, observing and aping anything that is passed down to us or is being practiced around us.
- Prepare for failure – With loads of motivational videos, self-help books, and success mantras, everyone is eager to conquer peaks. While there is absolutely no problem with this, it is also prudent to realise that failure is an inevitable part of life. We all fail in various areas of our lives. One may be a successful entrepreneur but fail in managing relationships. Another may be a doting wife and mother, but fail in finding employment. Failure in one or more life areas doesn’t make one complete failure. Once we understand and prepare ourselves for this, no failure can bug us. No matter how many times we fall, we will rise up again. But, we need to be prepared for failure so that we can cope with it when required. This is where many of us fall short leading to undesirable consequences. Think of the many people who have grown bitter because of the refusal of a love proposal or the many youngsters committing suicides by the years because of examination failures or unemployment. While we cannot evade failure, loss, rejection – these are never the endpoints of life. The preparation to accept failure has to start as early as in childhood when a child is refused chocolate or a toy or permission to go out and play on occasions as and when parents feel the checks and balances necessary. This is when children learn to accept ‘no’ while understanding that nothing else changes – their parents’ love remains intact.
- Guard your tongue – Though the tongue is small boneless part of our body, it has the power to build lives and to tear apart others. Words have immense power. So, the wagging tongue needs to be controlled. Many an unwanted word has caused widespread damage in all ages. Avoid gossip, slander, backbiting, lying, false accusations, abuse, dangerous plotting and blasphemy. Let each word that comes out of our mouths enabled by the tongue be words of edification, encouragement and prudent admonition.
Each of these points is one that I have learned at some point of time in my life. These are not mere lofty idealistic advices. No matter to which part of the world you belong to, I’m sure that with a little thought you will agree to each of these.
Stay tuned for thirty more words of advice from the Candles Online writers!