Lent – In My Opinion, My Tattoo

Today, April 1, 2018, is Easter.

As I have posted here a few times on the topic of Lent – In My Opinion, I have wondered in writing how “fasting” from expressing my opinion matters.

Over the last 40 days I have been reading and listening to many other’s opinions from all ages and generations on topics that ran the gamut of existence here on earth without expressing my own opinion. (I wouldn’t admit to being 100% silent but, in my opinion, I think I was darn close to it). And irrespective of age or generation, the opinions I read or listened to ranged from the cruel and insensitive to an articulate wise point of view. As I mentioned in my last post on Lent – In My Opinion, Part 3, all opinions do matter, but will they matter? And I came to the realization that each one’s opinions, whether I was in an agreement or not will matter just as my opinion will matter.

Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!

For my opinion to matter I reason, I must reflect the values of what I believe are important in how I live, how I work, how I interact with others whoever they may be. My values and my opinions determine my priorities and will ultimately determine how my life will matter. It will also determine even more than just here on earth.

In my first post, Lent – In My Opinion, my husband, Vinny Sal said I should not choose fasting from what I call my coarse language, and in his words, my ‘potty’ mouth because I would fail the next day just like diet resolutions on the January 1st. Yet in fasting from expressing my opinions I have also reflected on the words I choose to express my opinion. Can another word be used that may be more effective? Is there another word aligns better with my values? Is there another word that will make my opinion matter?

How will I make my opinions matter?

My values are rooted in the Word of God. I read the Bible or a Christian devotion almost every day and I write daily in a prayer journal. Yet, as a sinner I have failed many times expressing my values in my opinions as God would like me to reflect them. My words must be His words.

The art of self-expression

When my sons were in high school, they would often say they wanted a tattoo. A few of their friends were getting tattoos, why couldn’t they? My answer was always, “Your body is on loan from God. He wouldn’t like you to tattoo his masterpiece.” I knew then that when they reached adulthood they wouldn’t need my permission or approval. I just hoped they would think clearly about what tattoo and where they would tattoo their body.

Since that time I have become fascinated by why people get tattoos and how they choose what to tattoo on their bodies. After all, it will be there forever unless of course they rue their decision and go through through the painful process of medical laser surgery to remove them.

While I am sure some tattoos were mindlessly ill-conceived or gotten under inebriated circumstances and they were too ashamed to admit it, the majority chose their tattoo because it reflected their values, some event, a personally held conviction or message.

My tattoo – Luther’s Rose

My youngest son now has three tattoos in which he has shared the meaning and the reason behind each one. Friends and co-workers have tattoos. Vinny Sal vows he will never get a tattoo. And after my Lenten fasting I have found that I  now want a very special tattoo. A tattoo that reflects to me in the mirror every day a message of what my values are based upon. Although it is sad to think I need a reminder at times, I have chosen Luther’s rose for my tattoo.

(From: Letter from Martin Luther to Lazarus Spengler, July 8, 1530)

“First, there is a black cross in a heart that remains its natural color. This is to remind me that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart will be justified (Romans 10:10). It is a black cross, which mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy nature, that is to say, it does not kill us, but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Crucified One (Romans 1:17).

Luther's Rose - original

The heart should stand in the middle of a white rose. This is to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace—it puts the believer into a white, joyous rose. Faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives (John 14:27). This is why the rose must be white, not red. White is the color of the spirits and angels (cf. Matthew 28:3; John 20:12).

This rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that a joyful spirit and faith is a beginning of heavenly, future joy, which begins now, but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed.

Around the field of blue is a golden ring to symbolize that blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. Heavenly blessedness is exquisite, beyond all joy and better than any possessions, just as gold is the most valuable and precious metal.”

A special placement

My Luther’s rose tattoo will be etched above my heart near my left shoulder so as I look  in the mirror each day, it will remind me of the excruciating lashes etched on Jesus’ body for each and every one of my sins. It will remind me that my words and actions must not cause pain, but gives joy, comfort and peace. It will remind me that a joyful spirit and faith grasped in hope surrounded by a blessedness is better than any possession here on earth.

Unlike my gold cross necklace that I can put on and remove, my tattoo will remain as a reflection to all that my opinions do and will matter when I keep them rooted in a believing heart justified by faith in Jesus Christ.

Peace,

IMG_0603

The Blogging Owl

 

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

Lent – In My Opinion, Part 3

In my posts on Lent – In My Opinion, I wondered if my opinion mattered. A friend responded that my opinion DOES matter because in her words, and I am paraphrasing, “You have always given me good counsel.” I am flattered that she believes I have given her good advice, and she indeed is a wonderful reciprocating friend.

Still I pondered, “Does my opinion matter?”

All anyone need do is read social media posts, listen to television talk shows or news programs to know that most people have an opinion… STRONG opinions on any given topic and there are many controversial topics to choose from these days.

But does each of our individual opinions matter or only collectively… or perhaps not at all?

I only have to Google “Parkland” to read about the many opinions on school shootings, gun violence in America, gun control, the NRA, and even whether school kids have the right to speak out, rally and give voice to what adults are doing to protect them.

Parkland Shooting Survivor Calls Out Lawmakers in Chilling the NRA

How the Survivors of Parkland Began the Never Again Movement

A republican who called Parkland teen, a ‘skinhead lesbian’ drops out of Maine House race

Parkland Shooting Surveillance Video Shows Deputy Remained Outside

PRO-GUN RUSSIAN BOTS FLOOD TWITTER AFTER PARKLAND SHOOTING

As I read the numerous articles, listen to the television pundits debating the tragedy with politicians and mental health experts, and read the public’s comments on social media threads, yes, I do believe each of our opinions matter.

The better question is, “Will my opinion matter?”

I would like to believe that shushing my opinion these last 20 days or so has led me to be less vocal in my coarse language (you still are right Vinny Sal, giving up the “F” word wouldn’t have lasted past a day). Yet abstaining from my voicing my opinion has caused me to become more introspective.

Am I abiding by my own mantra, “Resist Reaction Let Reason Rule?”

Many times, when I read a tweet or someone’s post on a social media thread, I just want to quickly respond in disagreement because what the person tweeted or posted was in my opinion just plain stupid, or ‘for the love of scotch’ how can you be so blind to what seems so obvious, so on and so forth.

Now, I ask myself questions. Do I really believe, think, feel that way? How does that opinion reflect on me? How does that opinion reflect on the issue at hand? Does it further the cause? Does it just get lost in the noise or will it collectively matter?

It is not a win or lose matter

My opinion will matter when I:

  • cast my vote in the election booth after careful study of the candidates.
  • seek to be understood rather than just to be heard.
  • my attitude about someone’s opinion is not to slam it but to try to understand it. Ask the open-ended questions – who, what, where, how and why does the person have this opinion.
  • help others to thrive.

Because when it comes right down to it, my personal initiative of being a Watering Can is is not about me. It is about helping others thrive. I can’t do that unless there is a ‘will’ to have opinions matter for the collective good.

Of course! My opinion matters and the goal is to have it matter where love and security in mind, body and spirit win out.

Peace,

The Blogging Owl

Understanding

(c) 2017-2018 All Rights Reserved – The Blogging Owl – SL Prielipp-Falzone

 

 

Lent – In My Opinion

Lent

My husband, Vinny Sal and I were discussing the topic of the Lenten season that begins on Ash Wednesday, February 14th, this week. In the Christian faith, the Lenten season begins 40 days of “fasting” and often the faithful give up certain thing(s) in their life that replicates the sacrifice of Jesus Christ’s journey into the desert. It is a time of self-reflection and personal development.

In passing, I said to Vinny Sal that I would give up my coarse language or in his words, my “potty mouth.” I never use God’s name in vain, but I can let loose with the “F” word, or the “BS” word, or just “shit.” (When I as five years old, I told someone in my kindergarten class that my dad made up the word shit. I don’t know why I thought that or why I am writing about it now for that matter but I’m sure all farmers say shit for a variety of reasons.)

Vinny Sal suggested rather than giving up something negative to begin doing something positive. “But that’s not the reason for Lent, is it?” I countered. (He was raised Catholic and I was raised a Lutheran. We have these faith-based discussions often.) His reasoning was if I began something positive it may allow someone else to forgo something negative.

Which brings me to the unveiling of the Obama’s portraits

The official portraits of former President Barak Obama and former First Lady, Michelle Obama were unveiled today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Their portraits were painted by African American artists, Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald respectively. The portraits garnered varying comments and opinions on social media on the artist’s renderings of the Obamas.

In response to someone’s dislike of the portraits a the social media thread, the person posted if they did not like the portraits or took the time to get to know the artists’ work, then viewers should not express their opinion. (I am paraphrasing since the original post wasn’t very kind.) I appreciate art, but I do not have an art education, nor do I know these artists or their works. But their exchange did give me pause as to the matter of expressing opinions.

Is it okay to express our opinions/critiques of an artist’s work or is it best to adhere to my mother’s advice, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”

I posted this question on my own personal Facebook wall, but in retrospect I was thinking about opinions in general. As you can guess I received differing opinions.

One friend posted that she tries not to give her opinion unless asked. She reasoned that she doesn’t care about other’s opinions unless she has solicited the opinion from someone she knows/likes/respects.

Others stated that if the opinion is given “respectfully,” “constructively,” while others posted that “dialogue is good,” or “try to find a positive way to state it.” In her words, “spread the love not the hate.”

Which brings me back to our discussion on Lent

Rather than give up coarse language which Vinny says is impossible for me…. “Why would you try to give up something you know you cannot be successful in giving up? It’s the same as trying to give up eating sugar.”

I hate to say it. He’s right.

I would fail at giving up my occasional coarse language and my occasional need for a cookie.

But what I think I can do, and what I would like to do is think twice about offering my opinion without being asked.

Let me be clear. Giving up my opinions is different than giving up my values.

In other words, does my opinion further the cause of a beneficial dialogue on a topic? Or am I just offering my opinion because I am disgusted, angry, or worse, feeling hateful. Because let’s face it, there is a lot in this country and in this world that gets me disgusted, angry, and yes, hateful. When the subject challenges my values I cannot remain silent, but I can process the opinion before expressing it.

So rather than just spewing my opinion to someone or vomiting it on a social media post, I’ll think twice and ask myself these questions:

(Hopefully my friends don’t think I do that too often. The spewing and the vomiting, I mean.)

Is my opinion directed at the right audience that can do something about whatever has challenged my values?

If no, don’t.

Does anyone really care about my opinion whether it is valid or not?

If no, don’t.

Has someone asked me for my opinion?

If no, don’t.

Is my opinion beneficial to others?

If no, don’t.

While I did not post my opinions or reviews on the Obama portraits, the commentary of those who did taught me that when I come through on the other side of these next 40 days, I will be more thoughtful in my opinions, in my reviews and in my response to others.

So, what’s your opinion?