So I find myself two days late in this week’s blog.  I love being busy at work, not to mention I love my job, and I will soon start the sewing costume tasks at home as well.  My mind wandered to the blog topic this week around Tuesday.  I mean do I use this week to tackle the topic I want to address with learning to love the Neuro-Atypical mind?  No.  I need some more interviews for that.  Is this the week to address the objectification of women?  No, I don’t really have young readers who  are the ones who need to hear this.  How about my Speech Language Pathology blogs that I want to write; executive function, encouraging language growth, keeping your mind sharp, well those are good, but not this week, they just weren’t speaking to me.  I have some dance topics I can go for, but again, I wasn’t inspired.  Then I was sitting in a public area waiting quietly and I overheard two late 20s / early 30s ladies commiserating on the fact that their young child’s teacher was using a particular sight word list over another that their older child had used that they liked better.  Now normally, this type of conversation would simply pass in one ear and out the other and I wouldn’t note it, but these mothers were very upset and I thought, “Wow, college entrance isn’t really based on your reading curriculum and all are proven with research to work.”  Of course, I’m at college kid age in my life and dealing with the fact that as of this year, Indiana state colleges are taking International students are turning down Indiana students forcing us to pay out of state or private tuition and wishing someone would do something about that.  Again this didn’t inspire me for this short written work.  The next day, I was speaking with a friend who spoke of spending time in a 2 hour meeting debating what the company letterhead update should look like while she remained hopelessly behind in her work.  That is when this phrase, “straining at gnats and swallowing camels” came to my head.

Now, I don’t know if my dear friend Julie reads my blogs.  I have been blessed with this woman in my life for over 20 years.  She was raised in Kansas and is the queen of idioms and proverbs, so this was one of her common phrases that I adopted.  Another idiom that might cover this concept is ‘majoring in the minors’ or ‘penny wise pound foolish.’  I’m not sure how Millennials might communicate this concept today.  Now you might recognize this phrase from the Bible in Matthew 23, verse 24 specifically.  It is part of his woes to the Pharisees, pointing out their hypocrisy for focusing on things that in the end, ultimately don’t matter more than the things they are ignoring; following the letter of the law without getting your heart right with God.  This phrase, I find, can apply so easily to so many situations I encounter, both with me personally and with others.  I suppose it’s easier for us humans to focus on the details or the small things than to looks across time and step out of our situation to see the bigger picture.  I can say that maturity has afforded me a better skill at stepping out of myself, looking away from my belly button, and looking out to grasp a larger focus, though I still have a long way to go in this area.

We are beginning 2017, where people are setting resolutions or beginning new life goals.  All good things, but if you are taking a few minutes to read this blog, I hope you will think about setting another goal, a greater goal.  There are people genuinely scared about their future and their safety in America right now.  I hate that.  I hate it so much.  It doesn’t really matter whether you, the reader, feel those opinions or feelings are valid or not.  They are not yours and you do not have the right to judge others in any situation because you are not, and cannot be in their shoes.  What you can do is care.  Let your heart break for others.  Let your tears flow for their pain. Allow yourself to accept the emotion and unsureness of others.  Be compassionate.  To step out of yourself, to look around at the whole situation, to know full information, and to love anyway.

How I am applying straining at gnats and swallowing camels now is so often we, as humans, hear a news story, have an event occur, or have a need arise and we get caught up in our personal emotion attached and focus on the steps to travel through the event or situation without taking a moment to consider others and how they might feel, or the big picture surrounding.  Yes, there are terrible things that happened yesterday, there are terrible things that happened today and there will be more terrible things tomorrow.  Satan is in this world and these things will happen until our Lord returns.  Sometimes these terrible things will happen in the world, sometimes they will impact you personally, sometimes they will happen directly to you and your family.  We don’t want them to come; we don’t wish them on another soul and we pray for them not to occur.  Sometimes things happen that you don’t perceive as terrible, but other people do.  This is where I would encourage you to learn and grow and experience why others are upset or frightened and not dismiss their struggles if they are not your own.  We cannot be the compassionate people that God wants so desperately if we do not love others and we cannot love others if we dismiss them.  I do not face the fear that my three boys will be shot if they wear hoodies.  I have colleagues, friends and acquaintances that do.  That breaks my heart and brings me to tears that those lessons on safety must occur in those homes.  It’s not right.  It’s 2017.  It’s not right.  However, just because I have a privilege does not mean I should state that the reality of those safety fears is non-existent or is somehow the fault of the individuals facing that fear.  Young women on college campuses face real fears of rape by athletes who get free passes by the old boys’ network.  It’s a real thing, whether you are a young girl on a campus or not.  I face misogyny on a regular basis, even in my own home from my own husband.  Even though a man may think these things are silly, the fact that mansplaining is a problem that has existed since the beginning of time and work and home, that marriage and women jokes are a standard staple in a group of men and that I have a higher degree and get less money than most men and that in general men view women as objects and since this personal object is not skinny and pretty I am not valued, is a daily reality of my life.  No one has to be the same.  We are created wonderfully different and for 2017 I would wish that we would learn to love and to live.

So rather than straining at gnats and swallowing camels in 2017, I would encourage you to add another resolution to your list.  A resolution to consider others first.  To purposefully learn about other people and cultures and other’s feelings.  To not judge or overreact.  TO BE KIND. To grow yourself as an individual so that you can be a better you, a better friend, and a better human.  To take each personal struggle, tragedy and fear and survive and grow stronger.  If each of us work on improving our ability to reach out and love and live, focus less on ourselves and more on others, then I think that no matter what happens on the national level or the world level, we, as a people, will end up in a better place.

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