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January 24, 2011

Values Point the Way

Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

 

It was another one of those endearing memory-making moments for me, as I listened unnoticed from my office not too long ago, to Lynda’s soft voice and our Granddaughter Hannah’s probing utterances for clarification as the story her Mimi was reading to her began to unfold…

 

Alice was startled to see the Cheshire Cat sitting in a tree just ahead of her. 

The Cat grinned when it saw Alice, but did nothing more.

“Cheshire Cat,” Alice began timidly, “would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” the Cat replied.

“I don’t much care where…” began Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

                                                                                Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

 

There you have it, another children’s book that is really for adults.  I suspect that’s why her Mimi enjoyed reading Alice in Wonderland to Hannah as much as she enjoyed hearing it, as they lay together gently preparing for bedtime.  Actually, I suspect any book would have sufficed, at least for Mimi.  

And if we’re honest with ourselves, as we read the passage above, we can all identify with Alice and the point at which she finds herself in the story.  But surely it was many years ago, we would like to think, as we were starting out on this journey called life, after being “kicked from the nest.”  We know where we’re headed now—for sure! 

The reality, though, as we have come to discover all too often, is that we may find ourselves standing at that “fork in the road” at this very moment, or perhaps not too long ago, or maybe all signs seem to indicate we’re heading there again, always to be confronted with that never-ending question—“which way do I go from here?”  Which way do I go?

“That depends a good deal on where you want to go,” the Cat replied. 

“I don’t much care where,” began Alice. 

Ah, but there’s the rub Alice, you need to care, because the answer to “which way” will be determined by those values that internally govern and direct your life.

In a recent irreverent, yet poignant, commencement address delivered at William & Mary College by alumnus and host of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”, Jon Stewart shared these words with the soon-to-be graduates…

“But the unfortunate, yet truly exciting thing about your life is that there is no core curriculum.  The entire place is an elective.  The paths are infinite and the results uncertain…College is something you complete.  Life is something you experience.  So don’t worry about your grade, or the results or success.  Success is defined in myriad ways, and…it will come from your own internal sense of decency…”

Call them what you will— values, rules of the road, your own internal sense of decency, whatever.  Call them what you will, but whatever you call them they will tell the world what you stand for, how you will treat others, how you will respond to others’ treatment of you—both now and in the past.  Call them what you will, but they will tell the world how you will make decisions for each day of your life, and for those who have been entrusted to your care.  Call them what you will, but they will determine with whom you will associate, and will allow to associate with your children.  They will govern how you determine order of the priorities of—faith, family, health, career, friends, service to others, money and material possessions, personal convenience and comfort…and many other things.  And the order in which you place them will tell all the world what you hold most to least important. 

Those values which govern your life will tell your spouse, your children, your other loved ones, and the rest of the world—what you care most about.  They’ll hear what you say, but they’ll believe what you do and how you live, and by the choices they see you make each day.  They will define your standard of “success,” and will affect everyone and everything around you, either for good or not.  And they will determine the answers to Alice’s question, and ours, of “which way we ought to go from here?”

Self-help books have been written for years aimed at helping us clarify those “rules of the road.”  Recently, we have received three hundred and thirty-four pages of “The Purpose Driven Life”, three hundred and ten pages of “Your Best Life Now”, three hundred pages of “Good to Great”, three hundred and fifty-eight pages of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” and so on.  All offering their share of some good insights.

Let me suggest an easier way, a simpler starting point for any of you who have trouble—like me—trying to remember which page to return to, and in which book you read a good point—when you find yourself at that point again of trying to determine…“which way you ought to go?” 

Start here with this simple reminder of—“Glorifying God with all your thoughts, words and deeds.” 

Too simple?  Try it.  Apply it in any setting, when faced with any situation.

Try it Alice.  You may not have to search out the Cheshire Cat the next time. 

Try it friends.  It will make all the difference in your life, and in the lives of those around you—for the rest of all of your lives.

 

                                                                                    In His Name—Scott

 

Copyright 2011.  Scott L. Whitaker.  All rights reserved.

 

 

Posted by: Scott Whitaker at 12:24 pm
Filed under: Thoughts

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