Words of Wisdom
People magazine recently interviewed Halle Berry regarding her upcoming movie Kidnap and other aspects of her current life situation. The interviewer, Jess Cagle, observed that the movie allowed Berry to let “loose her inner mama bear.” Berry replied to that statement: “A regular ordinary mom finds the superpower inside herself and saves the day. At the end you feel like, ‘Wow… don’t mess with Mom!’ ”
Jesus instructs us to act with courage and strength, and if we are versed in his teachings that will almost come instinctively.
The mother who approaches Jesus to ask him to heal her daughter has a tremendous amount of faith in a stranger, and a foreigner, to believe that he can make her daughter well. She doesn’t see the limits that Jesus sees. Caroline Casey has a similar kind of impossible faith in her own life. In a TED talk, Casey recalls how her life changed on her 17th birthday.
“I accompanied my little sister in complete innocence, as I always had all my life — my visually impaired sister — to go to see an eye specialist. Because big sisters are always supposed to support their little sisters…. So I used to get my eyes tested just for fun. And on my 17th birthday, after my fake eye exam, the eye specialist just noticed it happened to be my birthday. And he said, ‘So what are you going to do to celebrate?’ And I took that driving lesson, and I said, ‘I’m going to learn how to drive.’ And then there was a silence — one of those awful silences when you know something’s wrong. And he turned to my mother, and he said, ‘You haven’t told her yet?’ On my 17th birthday,” she says, she learned the truth. “I am, and have been since birth, legally blind.”
Her parents made a decision not to tell her that she was legally blind. As she recalls, “my parents made a bizarre, unusual, and incredibly brave decision. No special needs schools. No labels. No limitations. My ability and my potential. And they decided to tell me that I could see. So just like Johnny Cash’s Sue, a boy given a girl’s name, I would grow up and learn from experience how to be tough and how to survive, when they were no longer there to protect me, or just take it all away. But more significantly, they gave me the ability to believe, totally, to believe that I could.”
She adds: “And with the same dogged determination that my father had bred into me since I was such a child — he taught me how to sail, knowing I could never see where I was going, I could never see the shore, and I couldn’t see the sails, and I couldn’t see the destination. But he told me to believe and feel the wind in my face…. I rammed through life as only a Casey can do. And I was an archeologist, and then I broke things. And then I managed a restaurant, and then I slipped on things. And then I was a masseuse. And then I was a landscape gardener. And then I went to business school. And you know, disabled people are hugely educated. And then I went in and I got a global consulting job with Accenture. And they didn’t even know. And it’s extraordinary how far belief can take you.”
When things fell apart for her, she thought about her next adventure. A few months later “I had the only blind date in my life with a seven-and-a-half-foot elephant called Kanchi. And together we would trek a thousand kilometers across India…. And you know what, that trip, that thousand kilometers, it raised enough money for 6,000 cataract eye operations. Six thousand people got to see because of that.” Out of her outrageous faith came a nonprofit organization, and the chance to make a difference for people in the world.
The Happiest Words
“What comes out of the mouth comes from the heart,” Jesus says. Our words come from our hearts, and they can be filled with happiness, dread, encouragement, or sorrow. Researchers who study words tried to determine the happiest words in the English language, and they reveal that the happiest word is “laughter.”
The least happy: “terrorist.” The least happy words, working up from the bottom, are: “terrorist, suicide, rape, terrorism, murder, death, cancer, killed, kill, died, torture, raped, deaths, arrested, killing…”
The happiest words, starting at the top, are: “laughter, happiness, love, happy, laughed, laugh, laughing, excellent, laughs, joy, successful, win, rainbow, smile, won, pleasure, smiled, rainbows, winning, celebration, enjoyed, healthy, music, celebrating, congratulations, weekend, celebrate, comedy, jokes, rich, victory, Christmas, free, friendship, fun, holidays, loved, loves, loving, beach…”
What comes out of our mouths can uplift, or bring down. Our words can add to the joy and peace in the world, or fracture them further.
Our knowledge of God, and our trust in God, comes from the fact that we believe that what Jesus says about God is true. Faith is fixed on Jesus Christ. Luther called faith “a certaine stedfast beholding, which looketh upon nothing else but Christ”. Thomas Goodwin said that faith is the resting of the heart on Christ “nakedly and alone, for life and salvation”. As the Westminster Confession put it, it is accepting receiving and resting upon Christ alone.”
I would not make it through the struggle if I were not a believer.
Of course, I do go to church quite often.
There I gather my spirits together, and there I think:
Yeah, there were great men in Poland once, but today there aren’t any.
I’m a little guy, though some people think that I’m great.
But nobody will tell me that I was a swine in my day.
Nobody will ever spit at my children.
Therefore, I will persevere.
And the church helps me in this.
Without it I would drop on my face and die, because I am very tired.
I think every man needs at least half an hour per week in church
to look at what’s back there––ruins and things burned out….
A man needs this moment of stopping and paying some attention to himself.
Lech Walesa, the leader of Polish Solidarity––whose struggles led to a free Poland.
To have faith requires the courage to take a risk,
the readiness even to accept pain and disappointment.
Whoever insists on safety and security as primary conditions of life
cannot have faith;
whoever shuts himself off in a system of defense,
where distance and possession are his means of security,
makes himself a prisoner.
Eric Fromm, psychologist