Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Principles for living life

I’m going to tackle a difficult subject this morning. “Principles”

Right now all I have to work with is an event that took place at work yesterday and my personal reaction to the circumstances.

I believe that most people live their life according to a specific set of principles and yet, that set of principles is not static or rigid.  It seems to be in a state of flux, adding a new principle here and there and doing away with one that has proved to be unreliable over time. The aspect of this subject that has me scratching my head is this...”Where do principles come from?”

Once again, I turned to my on-line Atomica dictionary for a definition.  Here are the ones I deemed to be most appropriate as it applied to the subject at hand.

A rule or standard, especially of good behavior: a man of principle.
The collectivity of moral or ethical standards or judgments: a decision based on principle rather than expediency.

Now; about this event that gave birth to all my ponderings.

I reported in to work early.  I asked Jack to sign me in at eight o’clock. He did as I asked and then got me a radio out of the supply room.  Another employee came in, signed in and Jack got out this little box that contained the “Split-the-pot” money and tickets.  He sold one to the other employee and then turned to me and asked; “Do you want to get in this week’s Split-the-pot?”

I politely responded with  “NO! Thank You.”

I don’t know why, but for some reason Jack couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t want to participate and reacted by attempting to lay a “guilt trip” on me. He made reference to the employee outing that takes place at the end of the golfing season and wondered if I participate in that.  I made it known that I do participate in it, but what I wanted to know was what one thing had to do with the other. Jack began to explain how the proceeds from this “game” goes toward that outing.

I asked Jack why it was that someone thought it necessary to include a form of gambling as a means to raise funds for the outing.  I’ve always been a little confused about the process.  It was about that time I explained that I DO NOT gamble.  When I thought about why I do not gamble I realized that it was because at one time in my life, I was addicted to gambling and it had been a source of much regret for me.  The fact is; I swore off gambling many years ago, knowing that it could only lead to more regrets and complications in my life.  I’m not certain that God had anything to do with that decision and yet, I saw fit to bring Him into my lengthy explanation as to why I do not gamble.  I went on to explain that if God thought I “NEEDED” a million dollars, He most certainly would find a way to get it into my hands because He had promised that He would provide all my NEEDS and I truly believed that He would. He has shown himself to be faithful in that promise. Jack seemed to be placated by my explanation and accepted it fully.

I walked away after that and stopped by the restroom before I started work. While in the restroom I couldn’t stop thinking about the implications of what Jack had implied by his remarks. I felt it was necessary to make a point, so I returned to the Pro Shop.  There was no customers needing attention, so our discussion got very involved and before I knew it, I had the course manager and the head pro who was on duty involved in the discussion. 

It was me and my principles against three other men who had their own set of personal principles to live by.  Principles are one thing but good logic is another. By the time I had my say on the matter, I honestly believe I had all three of them rethinking the process by which we finance our employee outing. I have no explanation for my reaction to the discussion and the outcome but I really enjoyed the whole thing.  I thought to myself, these men probably think I’m just cheap or stingy or even totally self centered and selfish, that I’m some kind of a tightwad and I knew that wasn’t the case.  It was just good old common sense that I was using on them and they were defenseless, without excuse, especially when I offered to contribute one dollar per week toward the employee outing fund and they wouldn’t need to split it with anyone. If all employees did the same each week, it would be an over the top fund raising campaign.

Here’s why I remain perplexed when it comes to my own personal principles; the truth is, I am not consistent in the process whereby I establish my principles. I find that I am able to do things that go against good old common sense and still feel justified in doing them. I still have behaviors that I know could and possibly WILL lead to future regrets and severe consequences, especially where my health is concerned. Said behaviors go against logic and reason and are certainly not rational.  Continuing to behave in this way gives others reason to criticize me and I suppose they have just cause for said criticism; God knows, they bring it up often enough and I just shrug it off and go on living my life the same way.

I’ve discovered that there are certain people whom I believe are doing their best to live a “Godly kind of life” and yet, they do not see anything wrong with gambling.  If one took a close look at anyone’s life, I’m pretty confident that they would find several or even MANY things that don’t line up with Biblical principles. Because of that fact, it’s much too easy for one to be overly critical of another and cross over into being judgmental in their attitude toward that person.  It seems to be an inevitable outcome in most cases.

So why is it that we can expect others to be “Perfect” and still not use the same measuring stick for our own life?
I have concluded that it’s because we focus on aspects of another’s life that we see as being negative and forget to consider all that is positive about them. I’ve often wondered if such behavior isn’t just a means of distracting ourselves from focusing on what might be seen as negative about ourselves?  It compares to living in a dirty house but continuing to ignore the mess and spending all your spare time poking around in someone else’s home looking under the bed and in corners for dustbunnies and cobwebs.

I’ve resigned myself to this truth; I cannot expect others to live their lives using my personal set of principles and I know, without a doubt that I can’t live my own using their set of principles.  There’s just too much that I disagree with them about.

I know at least two men who make a practice of doing this.  Whenever we meet, no matter where it may be, they say to me something like, “You are a beautiful man” or “Clarence, you are awesome” and they are smiling all the while and sometimes, if they are standing close enough, they will reach out and hug you or lay an arm across your shoulders and give you a strong squeeze.

I’m not sure which one of their personal principles motivates them to behave in such a way, but I’ve decided that it’s a principle that I would like to adapt for my own personal use. I know how their behavior makes me feel afterwards. It makes me want to be a better man.  Isn’t it enough to know that someone else thinks I am “beautiful” or “awesome?”  Shouldn’t I just be able to accept their opinion and sit back, fully satisfied with who I am?  Well! Maybe some could; but I can’t because I know the truth.  I’ve never seen myself as “beautiful” or “awesome” but I have this desire inside to be both some day.

You may have heard the expression “Pushing the envelop” used by someone who is striving to be the best they possibly can within their chosen vocation, be it a Test Pilot or Top Gun or Astronaut, etc. Some twenty years ago, I invited a Spirit into my life and it didn’t just enter my life, it moved into my physical body and a process of transformation began.  It is always pushing my “envelop.”  There is only so much room inside this physical form of mine and it can get very cramped in there at times. There have been many instances where I experienced lots of internal pressure and it can become pretty uncomfortable.

I offer this verse from my Bible to explain how I cope with all that pressure.

Jn:3:30: He must increase, but I must decrease.

I’m surprised that someone hasn’t noticed the hissing sound by now.  Perhaps those two men I spoke of earlier have heard it and that’s why they keep squeezing me so hard.

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