What the world needs now…

… are filters. I don’t mean for coffee or air. I mean for thoughts and feelings, ideas and emotions. Here’s an apt reflection for today in Give Us This Day:

Filter It in the First Place

For me, one of the scariest things about aging is the potential onset of dementia. It terrifies me to imagine the weakening of the executive function of the frontal lobe—that vital filter that keeps me from blurting out everything that pops into my head.

Can you imagine if every uncharitable thought we had in the presence of our bosses came rushing out when all we intended to do was summarize a meeting? We have a filter not only because we would never make it in society without one but also because we usually don’t really believe the unkind things we might be thinking.

Unkind words are not easily forgotten, regardless of how much we might assure a contrite friend that all is forgiven. And so for good reason Jesus warns against unchecked anger and insults. The general trajectory of hurtful words is hurt feelings, and it is the rare person who is able to absorb those words without, subconsciously or not, finding a way to settle the score. This is exactly how wars begin. We have a cultural expectation, of course, that if someone asks our forgiveness we must immediately extend it. But hurtful words may take years to get past, and there’s no casual way to say, “Upon review I’ve decided that I unforgive you.”

This Lent, consider fasting from thinking uncharitable things about people in the first place. The less room unkind thoughts take up in our brains, the less likely it is that, dementia or not, they’ll come tumbling out someday.

Kathy McGovern, a former instructor in the Denver Catholic Biblical School, is a writer and teacher in the Denver area. She writes weekly reflections that connect Scripture with life: www.thestoryandyou.com.

If we were more intentionally conscious of this, do you think we could dialogue, especially about issues of life and death, more respectfully and constructively?

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