How are all y’all? I’m Grrrrrreeeeeaaaattt! That’s really funny, but it’s true. I’m actually stuck in the Newark airport waiting for the connecting flight back to KC. Grab a cuppa and find a spot to relax and I’ll tell you a story or two. Just for you non horsey people, a practice arena is a confined yet public place to work with a horse. People have similar places, too!
Ever notice that the Lord seems to give us lots of opportunities to practice virtues we may need a bit of work on? International travel can provide them. International travel with a group can provide more of them. International travel with a faith-based tour group can be limitless!
Just this week we’ve had the lead teacher’s parent in the hospital overseas, grumpy and downright rude hotel and security folks, inclement weather, changes in our itinerary that might happen several times in a day, and ‘short walks’ that turned into mile-long hikes. Now add ‘interesting’ menus and meal times, and sleep deprivation from late dinners and early wake-up calls. It could be the perfect storm of attitude adjustment!
The first virtue that always comes to mind is patience. That one always gets the most mileage. You know, not snapping at someone, or being in such a hurry to have our own way. But there are others, too!
How about kindness? A smile instead of a scowl at the poor security agent. How about a decent tip for the overworked single parent trying to make the rent with a second or third job? Maybe a smile at the desk clerk if the key doesn’t work? Or letting the lady who is obviously expecting take ‘your’ spot on the elevator, with a smile.
Ever thought about humility could be practiced? How about not demanding that things go your way? How about simply going along with unexpected changes without grumbling? Maybe withholding that sarcastic or judgmental comment? How about waiting for the end of the line for the attractions, or the buffet line?
Temperance. We tend to only think of temperance in terms of food or drink. That is certainly valid! Especially when every meal is a buffet, with a table of rich desserts available. But how about tempering our words? Or better yet, the heart attitude behind those words? How about tempering our frustration before it turns into anger? How about tempering our pride and listening instead of trying to help the teacher teach? How about tempering our vanity so we can be ready on time and not hold everyone up? How about tempering our time in the most sacred places so others have a chance to venerate?
Charity, or love. How can we show love instead of frustration? Love lays down its life for a friend. Want to know what love looks like? Try 1 Corinthians 13. Or Matthew, chapters 5-7. How can we lay our life down? Let someone ahead of us in line. Stay pleasant and positive. Put aside your own tiredness or hunger and don’t let those things make you grumpy or unpleasant. Offer to carry a bag for someone else, offer to hold the baby so mom can have a minute. Offer to hold someone’s hand who is having a hard time navigating the terrain or the pace.
How can diligence play in here? By simply practicing the other virtues we just talked about. Stay constant in love, humility, kindness, temperance.
So, there’s one more major virtue. Chastity. I suppose you could practice this instead of ‘mooning’ the security personnel. 😉 But seriously, think about how you dress. Think about how you present yourself. Think about what others see. Think about how you are representing Jesus. Or if you need a female role model, take Mary, His mother. I know our styles of dress are vastly different today. The first thing I always ask myself about a potential new piece of clothing is whether I would be comfortable wearing it to church. If not, it stays in the store.
So, are you struggling with some of these? Do you feel powerless to change? Jesus has more than enough power to change you into a person full of these virtues! Find a pastor or priest and let them help you excel the next time life puts you into a practice arena.