Choose the kindest paths possible…

There are some things we will never know.

If we are able to accept that fact, and yet be able to move forward in faith, embracing the joy of living, life will be good and we will die in peace.

We will never know what everyone thinks of us. Not knowing how many people hold us in high esteem or how many really do not like us, keeps us humble and not discouraged. Knowing someone deeply dislikes me does not bother me as much as it would have when I was 30. When I was 30, hostility really threw me off my game. Such encounters made me question my self-worth and diminished me self-esteem. Now, I am able to try reconciliation and if that does not work, I simply ask God to forgive me for the part I played in the problem in the relationship. Then I move on.

When someone offers high praise, I try to accept it graciously, realizing that praise is contextual and transitory. Still, I relish it for about as long as it takes to eat a scoop of cherry crunch.

Sometimes the truth is not something we need to hear from someone else. Knowing how mean spirited some people can be, the truth can be used to bludgeon, diminish and destroy, rather than uplift, adjust and correct.

Oh, the truth is vital in many ways.

I finished second in a two person speech contest when I was 11. I worked hard on that speech, had examples and stories, and practiced it, probably 50 times.

It was terrible. No one told me that. I realized it not too long after I had given the speech In front of a Civic Club in Corbin.

My youth minister at the time sent it to the denominational magazine and it was published. Maybe that is when I realized it was terrible. I was internally embarrassed.

Outwardly, people were kind. They applauded. I took a “trophy” away from the experience.

If someone had told that 11 year old the brutal truth, “your speech was terrible” I might never have tried that or anything else in front of a group of people.

On the other hand, I tried, I stepped into that frightening arena of public speaking. I was nervous, I sweated, I worried about it. Only two young people in all of Corbin took the time and made the effort to do what we did.

That was truth as well.

But I will be forever grateful to those men of the Optimist Club of Corbin for withholding the brutal truth.

Maybe this column is about kindness. When the truth is to be told, may we choose the kindest path possible.

When the full truth needs to be told to minimize personal and social damage, may we have compassion and “do all that we do in love.”

When the full, critical truth need not be told to undermine the confidence of a young person, let us refrain from telling that truth, because the truth is, love is the more powerful force at work here. 

Moving to the deeper places,
Jeff