“If wisdom’s ways you wisely seek,
Five things observe with care,
To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
And how, and when, and where.”
― Caroline Lake Ingalls
Often I think when we say words, correcting someone or telling someone what to do, I often wonder if we remember this little proverb.
I think that in this life, we have so many times listened to the words either spoken to us or even the unspoken words, with looks that mean something else and felt their sting.
I was thinking after taking part in an exercise, where you looked at other people and told them things that we saw they contributed of value to others and in the world in general. Some these people I did not know well, but after spending a weekend together, many of their gifts shone forth.
As I returned to “normal” life, I found myself wondering how much was the truth and struggled to not fall into the pit of doubt.
Life is hard. I mean, it just is. There are so many everyday errors people may either believe you made or you actually did make. In the end, you can throw up your hands and scream or you can keep pushing on.
I can sit and ask myself the questions that roll around in my head day after day.
“What do I offer of value?”
“Are the positive words right that I have heard others say, or are they simply saying what they think they should say?”
“Are the critical words actually the truth?”
“How can I change my impact on others to be more positive?”
My mind starts to buzz with how I can change myself to be more a person of impact on others, but then as I start to do this, asking the questions, I wonder “Are those really the right questions?” I know that I have always believed in self sacrifice, long suffering, meekness and all those things. It seems so counterproductive to say that I need to focus on the positive things about myself.
Instead asking/saying, “Do you believe in yourself? Do you think you can do this? Do you think you made the wrong choice? You messed up? That’s ok. Pick up and move on.”
There is someone I have been acquainted with, that rarely says a positive thing about anyone, unless she knows them very well. In fact, I can generally count on her saying something negative about someone until she gets to know them.
I know other people that will look at a person and if they are not fitting in the correct racial or belief boxes, they mark them off the list of approved people.
The list could go on and on. We all know those kind of people. They are not the people we tend to want to hang out with as we know that if we end up displeasing them in some way, we will be on that list.
Instead, I think of how I would love to be surrounded by people that love others despite flaws. They may not be perfectly dressed, believe the same as you, walk, talk or act like you, but they are valued and loved.
I have many friends and acquaintances that are so totally different from me, that I cherish having them in my life. I tend to be drawn to the ones that fit outside the box. It is the stories I want to tell and write. The overcomers, the “damaged” ones that succeed, the success stories. They are the ones that love best because they know pain.
As I write my stories, I never know what will become of them, but one day, I hope others will read them and love them as well.
But for now, I am going to think about Caroline Ingall’s saying, and let wisdom guide my words. I may need to look and find someone to say a positive word to. I may need to hold my tongue when a critical word comes my way. But in the end, I need to remember that I have to believe it as truth when someone tells me something they appreciate about me.
It is a choice that I must make to survive.