Friday, August 3, 2012

COMMENTARY: What my Southern Baptist Mom taught me

EVERYONE'S THE SAME ON THE INSIDE: Mom taught me that skin color was just a matter of adaptation to environment. Black people (or colored people as she called them at that time) were originally from Africa, which is closer to the sun. Thus, they have more melanin in their skin. What counted, she always told me was what was on the inside of a person: their hearts, their minds.

LOVE PEOPLE--DON'T JUDGE THEM: Her feelings were that it wasn't our job to judge anyone. God took care of that. We were tasked to: Love our neighbors as ourselves. She never read any exclusions in the Bible. This is the lesson she taught me when I realized at ten my favorite cousin was gay. She believed Leviticus was past and Jesus' words of love were what should guide Christians in dealing with homosexuality.

RECYCLE: Almost everything can be repurposed if you think carefully. Mom turned cottage cheese containers into bird feeders. She just drilled holes in the sides for string or wire to hang them, then filled the feeders with seed or the hulls of green peppers. Mom saved plastic tubs, washed aluminum foil, even waxed paper and plastic wrap. She and a schoolteacher friend, Georgia, sent the same birthday card back and forth to each other for more than forty years. They'd simply initial the card and date it. The situation got interesting with envelopes. One year, Mom embarrassed her friend when she sent the card to her in a recycled brown paper bag. Georgia said her postman joked about her receiving mail in a "plain brown wrapper."

GOD DOESN'T MAKE JUNK:  That includes gays, handicapped people, and anyone else. We all have a purpose in this life and we need to seek that purpose out and live it. She did her best to love everyone and told me that is what we all should do.

YOU HAVE TO BEND OVER TO PUT PEOPLE DOWN:  If you're trying to put someone down, you're going to have to bend over to do it. It's better to raise them up, you can stand up straight yourself and hopefully travel along a higher path. 

FOOLS RUSH IN WHERE ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD:  Be sensible. Avoid danger when you can. That doesn't mean you are a coward, it just means you need to be smart about when to risk yourself.  When you've got to do something that puts you at risk, do it as sensibly as you can.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY:  Grandpa taught this to her and both of them taught this to me. They believed there was never a chance to stop learning and growing.

A FOX ALWAYS SMELLS THEIR OWN STINK FIRST:  Essentially, before you criticise someone else, you might want to make sure your own nose is clean. We tend to see the worst in ourselves in others.

YOU'RE KNOWN BY THE COMPANY YOU KEEP:  If you hang out with troublemakers, even if you're not one yourself, you're going to get branded as such. Same with any other characteristic. If you don't like what people you're with are doing, you probably shouldn't hang out with them.

YOU CAN BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE AND SCIENCE, TOO: God put fossils here for a reason and human beings have certainly evolved, think of us no longer needing our wisdom teeth or appendixes. A day in God's time is a whole lot longer than we think. So, learn about science and evolution.

THE CONCRETE EFFECT IS COMMONSENSE: On one of those 105 degree Oklahoma days, Mom took me outside with a thermometer and we played. First, we measured temperatures on the asphalt street, then the concrete sidewalk, then on the grass, then beneath a tree. Her point in all of this was human beings have an effect on the world with development and that effects our environment.

DO SOMETHING GOOD EVERYDAY:  Mom believed in doing kindnesses for other people. Even a kind word can make the difference between a good and a bad day for someone.


PEOPLE WHO TALK ABOUT OTHERS ARE ALSO TALKING ABOUT YOU:  Gossips live to gossip. If they're dishing on someone else, they'll probably tell your secrets, too.

DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU SEE/HEAR: People can distort facts. Find out for yourself.

LOOK IT UP:  A dictionary or an encyclopedia are your friends. Learn to use them and while you're there, do some exploring. 

ANIMALS HAVE SOULS:  Nothing that can love unconditionally could have anything less. And, they're going to Heaven. (Good thing, because I don't think my Mom would want to be there unless cats could come along) 

These are the values I remember my Mom for and I try to respect them as much as I can. She was a good woman and she made the world a better place for that goodness.

Rebecca McFarland Kyle, August 2012

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