Last Sunday was a pondering sermon (text/audio here as “And a Balanced New Year”). This is a sermon where I have an idea but need to look at it from various points of view because I am still considering it. I was articulating my concerns about extreme opinions concerning the power of positive thinking. I framed my pondering as an argument with Yoda, the Jedi Master of Star Wars fame – specifically his quote: “Do, or do not. There is no try.” (5 minutes film clip for context)
In a sermon discussion after worship, it became clear that people have very different ideas about what the word “try” means. I note that consulting Webster’s for a definition was of no help.
For some people, “try” implies a somewhat half-hearted effort – not really giving it ones all. For others, to exclude the word “try” would imply a guarantee of success – absolutely knowing that one would/could do a thing. In this second camp, in which I include myself, there is a question of integrity which requires the word “try” as a way of acknowledging that success is not guaranteed.
In what I thought was the end, I found myself appreciating both points of view. While I will probably continue to use the word “try,” not as a hedge, but as a matter of honesty, I think I will more quickly understand those who fall into the other camp. Understanding always helps to highlight and correct possible misunderstanding.
However, I realized later that day, that I was not at the end of my pondering. On facebook, Jay, a ministerial intern who comes from 1U, posted the closing words from the morning’s service in Tampa.
“People often become what they believe themselves to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” – Mahatma Gandhi
So, I continue to ponder. Our thoughts and beliefs matter. This I know. But how much? Where are the limits?