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Gentle Virtues


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11/01/2011 - In a belly dump truck, my husband Randy approaches a gravel pit.

From nowhere a whirlwind throws dirt 130 feet into the air. In its path is Randy's coworker Mike who is outside his truck, inspecting his load. He is oblivious to what is about to rattle him.

Strife is like a whirlwind. It sets out looking for someone to rattle.

No doubt you have been caught in its path.

Strife shows up when it gets stirred up. Two things stir up strife. One is anger, the other is pride. We find this understanding in two time-tested Proverbs: "An angry man stirs up strife."

"He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife."

In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, Noah Webster reveals the root meaning for stir. It comes from the German word, storen. It means "to disturb". Strife's aim is not to resolve conflict. Its aim is to disturb.

In Latin, disturb has a disturbing root meaning. Literally it means "to trouble". While strife disguises itself as trying to handle a troubling matter, it actually intends to trouble - "to agitate, grieve, distress". Let's be honest with ourselves. Are we trouble makers in disguise?

Noah Webster, in the 1828 dictionary, defines strife as "contention for superiority". When a conflict arises, strife does not care to get to the bottom of the issue. It cares to come out on top!

Through the eyes of strife, people are rivals. They are to be depreciated, defeated, depressed - certainly not helped. Envious by nature, strife feels uneasy and discontented at the sight of someone else's happiness and success. It aims to take away that person's honest gain rather than pursue true happiness and success for oneself. Ooh, it's mischievous!

If we are not careful, strife can overtake us and spiral us into a life cycle of misery, paining our minds with distress and trapping us in a whirlwind of great unhappiness. If we do not break free of it, we'll leave behind a path of wrecked relationships.

We can do two things to help keep strife out of our lives: 1. Instead of stirring up anger, we can choose to remain calm. 2. Instead of stirring up pride, we can choose to be humble - gentle and mild of temper. In a heated situation this is tough to do. Yes, tough, but not impossible.

When we make this effort, we are less likely to rattle someone else.

We too are more able to enjoy happiness and success with them. Now that makes for good living!

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