August 21, 2019

Can’t Teach Old Dogs New Tricks?

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

All of us have heard the cliche about dogs. People of all ages buy it. Those who accept this adage as fact, instead of challenging it, settle into a comfort zone in life. They know, but forget, that humans and dogs don’t equate–especially when faced with maturing or not. Dogs have no choice; people do.

We know that attitude is the primary predictor of maturing. What follows from this outlook is either creativity or stagnation. It depends on our free choice. God told Jeremiah to choose life, then added the promise quoted above. Choosing life takes grace and courage, but God said He’d always be with us.

Our choices, even insignficant ones, feed our decisions either to create or stagnate. These daily choices determine our life, and formulate our basic option: toward God’s plans for us, or away; toward a future full of hope, or to one that holds gloom. In order to nourish our resolve, we make choices which either feed it, or let it wither. All the daily choices we make either help or hinder the care we give to our body, mind and spirit. Each one affects the next, for better or for worse.

In our adult maturing process, we who choose creativity and hope must tackle what follows. Because of our decision to become the best person we can become, we move on to actualize this life-giving choice by taking the necessary steps to put vision into action.

Every choice is a renunciation.

This Midieval philosophy also describes the reality that while all changes demand choice; likewise, all choices demand change. In pursuit of God’s urging to choose life, we must renounce some things for the greater good. Yet, what we give up actually nurtures us in ways we couldn’t possibly have known at the time. These may not reap harvest until later, but the results will be a priceless response to God’s hope-filled plans for our life.

Positive, life-generating, healthy choices may not necessarily “add years to our life,” but are certain to “add life to our years.” Our ability to make these choices is God’s gift. We can choose this gift through self-control; or, we can refuse it through laziness and procrastination. Change is essential to life; we learn from our choices-and-changes, then advance in our adult maturing and wisdom–more of God’s gifts to us. Any change can be stifling or growth-filled; we can remain comfortable with old tricks, or learn new ones.

Positive healthy choices for mind, body and spirit are vital for ongoing adult maturing. An optimistic attitude and healthy choices go hand-in-hand. The one virtue cannot exist without the other; they are interdependent. The healthy choices we make for ourselves, affects those we make for others. “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31).

Christ pleads: “Remain in me, as I remain in you” (John 15:4). There are things we can do to help Christ’s wish come alive in us through the care we give our body, mind and spirit because of daily healthy choices. Individually, I can choose to:

  1. Free myself from perceived limitations of a stale mentality;
  2. Embrace the age I’m in and explore possibilities for maturing;
  3. Refuse to give myself put-down messages;
  4. Honor my body, mind and spirit with proper care;
  5. Learn something new daily;
  6. Create fresh reasons for getting out of bed each morning;
  7. Reflect on my life and plan on leaving a legacy;
  8. Reach out and use my talents for others;
  9. Exert effort to keep personal morale upbeat and positive;
  10. Discover a fresh God-dream for this stage of life;
  11. Create a sacred space to be alone with Christ daily and develop a maturing friendship with Him;
  12. Above all: I’ll do something to enrich my life’s meaning and purpose.

With prayer for courage to respond to God’s dreams for us, we create life-changing patterns in favor of healthy choices, and anticipate all the blest surprises God still has in store for us. What free, magnificent choices are in our control; but we must make them.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Written by
Sr Angelita Fenker

SR. ANGELITA M. FENKER, 83, passed away on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. Born in Fort Wayne, Sr. Angelita was a religious Sister and educator with various educational and ecumenical organizations in the U.S and Canada for 60 years, retiring in 2007.

She started her ministry in 1947, earned Bachelors degrees in education and family studies from University of Saint Francis and Purdue University. She was an elementary teacher, principal and director of religious education in Missouri, Louisiana and Indiana. She earned her Masters degree in education administration from Marquette University. From 1973 to 1990, served as the National Associate Director of Families for Prayer, Inc, of Albany, N.Y. During this time, she also earned her doctorate degree in spirituality and family spirituality from the Graduate Theological Foundation.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

View all articles
Written by Sr Angelita Fenker
Click to access the login or register cheese