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Jul 17, 2022 190 Karen Eberts, USA
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Whispers

Listening to that still, small voice…

Whispers come unexpectedly. Those quiet words found in a book or heard from a friend or homilist that cross our paths at just the right moment—a moment when our hearts are graced to hear them in a fresh or unique way. It happens like a flash of lightening suddenly illuminating the landscape below.

Such a phrase caught my eye recently, “When you replace judgment with curiosity, everything changes.” Hmm…I paused to consider the sentence. It made sense! I had practiced replacing negative thoughts with positive affirmations and various Scriptures over the years, and it resulted in a new way of thinking. I seemed to have a genetic predisposition toward negativity. This tendency which I had seen in one of my parents as I grew up had become ingrained in me, but that wasn’t who I wanted to be. As a result, I found myself attracted to optimistic friends! They exhibited something different to my experience, and I was drawn to it! Looking for what was good in others was the object, but it extended to searching for the positive in the midst of difficult circumstances, too.

Life is full of obstacles and challenges; anyone who has lived any length of time on this earth knows that. The Gospel of John quotes Jesus speaking this truth: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” We see His words enfleshed in people like Helen Keller, who despite an illness that left her deaf and blind, was able to voice that “although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it. My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil, but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good, that it may prevail. I try to increase the power God has given me to see the best in everything and everyone and make that best a part of my life.”

Over time, my efforts and God’s grace, resulted in responding to hardships by immediately directing my attention to what I could be grateful for despite the unwelcome circumstances. It’s easy to get caught up in “stinking thinking!” It takes intention and courage to choose to redirect internal and external conversations away from complaints, criticism, and condemnation! I have reflected often on these words I first heard as a young adult: “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a lifestyle. Sow a lifestyle, reap a destiny.”

What we think precedes what we do. What we do repeatedly becomes a habit. Our habits comprise the way we live our life. The way we live our life, our choices over time, makes us who we are. I didn’t believe these words just because someone said them. One only needs to attend funerals and listen attentively to eulogies to learn this truth! How someone lives their life determines how they will be remembered…or if they will be remembered.

Of course, a life well lived requires frequent reflection, as well as a willingness to adapt. Now I am pondering the admonition to ‘replace judgment with curiosity.’ There are opportunities all around me! Just as I hadn’t wanted to live life with a negative outlook in the past, now, I don’t want a judgmental attitude to make it harder to obey Jesus’ commandment to love my neighbor as myself.

I found an opportunity to try out this new response almost immediately! Something a friend shared with me the next day quickly evolved into a judgment about another person, and quick as lightening, I found myself agreeing! But just as swiftly came the whisper, “When you replace judgment with curiosity, everything changes.” In an instant, choosing to be curious as to why the person made the choice that the two of us found so easy to judge, a plausible reason came to mind! It was true….curiosity does change everything! And even if it doesn’t, it can change me…and wasn’t that the goal all along?!

“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we would find in each human’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Karen Eberts

Karen Eberts is a retired Physical Therapist. She is the mother to two young adults and lives with her husband Dan in Largo, Florida

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