Good deeds are meant to be multiplied — to the glory of God and to the building up of his kingdom.
I’ll be putting this meme somewhere that I can see easily see it. I need the reminder.
Neuroscience tells us that what’s going on in this quote is a function of something called myelination. Myelin is a chemical that allows signals to travel faster in our neural pathways. We build up myelin by repetition. The more we do something, the stronger the pathways in the brain needed to get it done. That’s why “practice makes perfect.”
Myelination doesn’t just affect learning skills, it also shapes things like character and attitudes. Choosing to be positive will make us a more positive person, because we are strengthening the “positive” pathways in our brains. The same is true for negative thinking.
In the words of the 20th-century Eastern Orthodox monk, Elder Thaddeus:
Our thoughts determine our lives.
There’s never been a time when the world hasn’t needed good people. And there’s always something we can do to make the world a better place.
The following is quoted from a Facebook post by Fr. Christopher Metropulos. A good read. Stay faithful. Stay hopeful. And always favor the better angels of our nature.
“Keep your chin up and marshall on folks. Only God knows what is in store for us in this world. We must have faith in the one thing that doesn’t change and that is our Lord. Please read this email that was recently sent to me to get a good prospective on life.
“For a small amount of perspective at this moment, imagine you were born in 1900. On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends when you are 18. Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%. That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy. When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath. On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII until you are 45. At 50, the Korean War starts. At 55 the Vietnam War begins. When you are 62 the Cuban Missile Crisis threatens to end life on our planet as we know it. When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
“Perspective is amazing. Yes, we are in a challenging time nowadays. Try to remember everything that those born in 1900 endured and accomplished, and have faith that we will endure as well. Let’s be smart, and help each other out – we will get through all of this.”
“Just as there are ‘better angels of our nature,’ there are also ‘lesser angels’ of our nature. We have the capacity for compassion, but we also have the capacity for indifference. We have the capacity for forgiveness and for resentment. We can build bridges and we can burn them, we can heal and and we can hurt. We have to very intentionally choose the path of compassion and forgiveness and healing, and of all those things carried in that phrase ‘the better angels of our nature.'”
A thought as we begin the Third Week of Great Lent.
This month 158 years ago, Abraham Lincoln gave his first Inaugural Address. By then, seven states had seceded from the Union and his goal in his first message to the American people as their President was to be both conciliatory and firm — the Union could not be divided. He concluded his address with the words:
The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.
Long before our family moved to the United States, I was struck by that final phrase of Lincoln’s address: “the better angels of our nature.” To see positive change in our world, in our communities, our families, we need to pay attention to that which is positive and life-giving in the human character.
What God does for our salvation is infinitely greater than anything we can do, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have anything to do. The story of Zacchaeus in the Gospel of Luke (19:1-10) provides valuable insight into what we need to do to cultivate the relationship with God that gives us salvation. In verses three and four we read: