Words of Wellness

November 10, 2009 | The Rev. Dr. Scott Stoner

A Reminder to Pay Attention to What We Pay Attention to

There are no adequate words to describe the horror of the shootings at Fort Hood last week.† The unspeakable loss of those who died, the agony of those who still fight for their lives, and the overwhelming grief for loved ones is beyond our comprehension.† In the midst of that nightmare, we witnessed the generosity of human nature in those who courageously risked their lives to confront the killer and limit further tragedy.† As is often the case, the best and worst of who we can be as human beings appeared side by side.

One thing I try to remember in the aftermath of a tragic event like this is to pay attention to what we pay attention to.† The information overload from the media around such an event is staggering, which in and of itself is not a good or bad thing.†† However, getting bogged down in the minutiae can limit our ability to process our emotions.† You and I have complete control over how much of the coverage we choose to absorb.

I in no way minimize how awful this event is when I note the limited media coverage of the people wholeheartedly and loyally serving in the armed services everyday.† There are currently 1.4 million active duty service people and 1.2 million serving in the reserves.† Unless they are people we know personally, we will rarely ever know their names.† We will not see their pictures everywhere we turn, nor will we hear countless people speculate about what motives might be behind their brave decisions and actions. †

On a smaller scale and, closer to home, we each choose everyday where to focus our attention.† We can so easily fall into the habit of seeing mostly the displeasing characteristics in the people and communities with whom we are closest.† This negative mindset can be as contagious as the H1N1 flu.† We can of course also choose to vaccinate ourselves by emphasizing the small, everyday things for which we can be grateful in our loved ones and within the various communities in which we live and work.† I was reminded of this in a recent small group session.† The leader asked each of us to write down fifty ways in which we were grateful for God's love in our lives.† At first I thought this was impossible, but as I began to write down the many things I too often take for granted, my list quickly grew to sixty!

Life can be so tragic and there are no easy solutions in handling the unspeakable atrocities that occur.† We can't forget them or ignore them, but we can choose to persevere, and to celebrate life as a wonderful gift, filled with people who strive to be loving and trustworthy.† I will not stick my head in the sand when tragic events occur, but I also will not let those events distract my attention from all that is good in this life.

May our hearts be filled with love and prayers for those who are suffering from the events at Fort Hood, and filled with gratitude for those who courageously risked their lives to help last week, just as they do each and every day for us.

There are no adequate words to describe the horror of the shootings at Fort Hood last week.† The unspeakable loss of those who died, the agony of those who still fight for their lives, and the overwhelming grief for loved ones is beyond our comprehension.† In the midst of that nightmare, we witnessed the generosity of human nature in those who courageously risked their lives to confront the killer and limit further tragedy.† As is often the case, the best and worst of who we can be as human beings appeared side by side.

One thing I try to remember in the aftermath of a tragic event like this is to pay attention to what we pay attention to.† The information overload from the media around such an event is staggering, which in and of itself is not a good or bad thing.†† However, getting bogged down in the minutiae can limit our ability to process our emotions.† You and I have complete control over how much of the coverage we choose to absorb.

I in no way minimize how awful this event is when I note the limited media coverage of the people wholeheartedly and loyally serving in the armed services everyday.† There are currently 1.4 million active duty service people and 1.2 million serving in the reserves.† Unless they are people we know personally, we will rarely ever know their names.† We will not see their pictures everywhere we turn, nor will we hear countless people speculate about what motives might be behind their brave decisions and actions. †

On a smaller scale and, closer to home, we each choose everyday where to focus our attention.† We can so easily fall into the habit of seeing mostly the displeasing characteristics in the people and communities with whom we are closest.† This negative mindset can be as contagious as the H1N1 flu.† We can of course also choose to vaccinate ourselves by emphasizing the small, everyday things for which we can be grateful in our loved ones and within the various communities in which we live and work.† I was reminded of this in a recent small group session.† The leader asked each of us to write down fifty ways in which we were grateful for God's love in our lives.† At first I thought this was impossible, but as I began to write down the many things I too often take for granted, my list quickly grew to sixty!

Life can be so tragic and there are no easy solutions in handling the unspeakable atrocities that occur.† We can't forget them or ignore them, but we can choose to persevere, and to celebrate life as a wonderful gift, filled with people who strive to be loving and trustworthy.† I will not stick my head in the sand when tragic events occur, but I also will not let those events distract my attention from all that is good in this life.

May our hearts be filled with love and prayers for those who are suffering from the events at Fort Hood, and filled with gratitude for those who courageously risked their lives to help last week, just as they do each and every day for us.

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