Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Time for Forethought

Hello friends,

Forethought: careful planning, prudence, carefulness, farsightedness, wisdom, caution. These are words that I wonder if we understand. Forethought is a word that seems archaic to modern language, and, sadly, I think that its meaning is no longer understood, much less practiced.

In other words, I'm getting those forwards that insult just about everyone -- each candidate that is running for U.S. office, the Jews, Catholics, Evangelicals, believers in general, etc. You probably get them, too. I don't know why the month of December and the end of the year brings out the worst of humanity, as well as the good; and I certainly don't know why anyone thinks I even read these things or want them.

It reminds me of a time, when I lived across the street from a young woman, who happened to belong to an extremely conservative Christian faith. Since I stupidly confided that I had once been divorced, and that I was now happily married to the love of my life, she immediately gave me her unnecessary opinion:

"You know you are an adulteress, don't you?" Wow! That made my hair stand on end, and I was insulted. However, I was kind, stating that I had never cheated on anyone. So, you might say we agreed to an unspoken truce.

Fast forward about 2 and 1/2 years. One day, she showed up at my house, wearing a red, satin, "lady of the night" dress. "Jaye," she began, "I'm leaving my husband and children (four of them), and I'm so happy, I just had to tell you. I knew you'd understand."

What in the world was she thinking? "You thought I'd understand? What part did you think I'd understand?" The red, cocktail dress? Leaving your husband? Or abandoning your children?

"But, Jaye, you're divorced. You should understand."

"Look," I said, "First of all, I'm not divorced. I'm married. Secondly, I never abandoned my children. Thirdly, I left my ex-husband, because he was abusive. Again, I never abandoned my children!"

So, I wondered if I had a sign on my forehead that said:

First, please call me names. Then confess your sins. It boggles the mind.

So, now, we have the internet, and we have "Forwards." And many of us have given ourselves permission to send any insulting thing we can think up or copy, to someone we barely know. This is a mystery to me. Because, you see, if I chance to read one of these forwards, I'm never going to send it on. And if it is insulting to any group, who never did anything to me (or even if they did) personally, I'm going to think less of the sender, not the object of ridicule.

So, I think that we have come to a time, where we must learn the meaning of "forethought," and it is not too late to practice it. Do I really want to send an insulting email? Do I hate all these persons or groups, that I have never met, so much, that I would send a hurtful forward to you? I hope I have more forethought than that. And if I am a believer, I should love God so much, that I also love others who were also made in His image and likeness.

Lord, may I cast away, in this season of Your Grace, all the human prejudices in my heart, knowing that I not only hurt the one for whom it is intended, but I also hurt You. As Francis of Assisi said, in his beautiful prayer for peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
when there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Francis of Assisi

My friends, I probably fail at this every day. I certainly do in my heart, often. Perhaps if I can live each line at a time, one day, I will be a more loving person, and I will understand and practice, forethought.

Father in Heaven, grant me the Grace to bless You, as I bless others. Make me a more loving daughter, not only to my family and friends, but also to strangers, especially those who are different than I. May I breathe Your love in every breath that I take, and please forgive me when I fail.

With love,

Jaye Lewis

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