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It's the Right Thing to Do

“It’s the right thing to do.”

I grew up hearing those words from my parents, who were born into what would be called The Greatest Generation. They made do and helped neighbors during the Great Depression. They fought heroically during World War II and kept the farms and factories running on the home front. They took advantage of the GI Bill and attended college in numbers no other generation before them had. They bought from Sears & Roebuck catalogs–even homes–and collected Green Stamps to find extras for their families. They were hard working and generous, and they filled the churches on Sundays.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

Despite the fact that they had five children, my parents opened their home frequently to folks who needed a place to land for a season. Rotary exchange business people. Friends of ours. Relatives finding their way.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

My parents took us to church on Sunday. There was never a service missed because one person was sick. The others went nonetheless. We got swiped with ashes on Ash Wednesday and attended all the extra services, including Maundy Thursday, Good Friday three hours on our knees, Holy Saturday, and of course, Easter Day. Though Mom and Dad didn’t have much money, we girls were outfitted with new dresses, new shoes, new socks, new gloves, new hats, and maybe even a new purse. (I don’t remember ever carrying a purse on any other day as a child.) Jesus Christ was risen that day, so we had to arise to the occasion.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

My parents were committed to public service. They were members of every service organization in their community: Lions, Chamber of Commerce, Christ Church committees and board, Arts Guild. I can’t remember them all, but I do remember that at some point they always rose to serve as president.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

They were generous to a fault–to charities and to our church. You don’t make much working in retailing–even at the management level. But giving was as natural as breathing. Their generosity grew out of their faith–that God would always take care of them. The right-thing-to-do grew out of their faith in a God Who Provides and a Savior Who Gave His All.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

And they were great parents. Never was a word raised in anger. Never was profanity spoken. Never did gossip slip out. They were role models (Mom still is) for “Do unto others.” To be able to host her six grandchildren a couple weeks ago in the first in-person visit at her senior living place, she saved up her ice cream cups so she’d have something to give them. She also went through the bits and pieces of what she had to give them and their parents a gift. I learned the paradox from my parents that even when you’ve got nothing, you can still give something.

And then there was my generation–the do-your-own-thing generation of choices. My parents’ generation did the right thing as though there was no choice, no need to do anything but that. They were inspired by war. We became disillusioned by it. They faced poverty but worked hard to overcome it. We figured somebody owed us something. They worshipped God. We began worshipping Ease, Plenty, and Pleasure.

“It’s the right thing to do.”

Right now I have a whole day in front of me. I have choices: to waste it or to do something purposeful, something good, something right.

In #lookingup . . . I will know what is the right thing to do. And despite the turmoil in the world, I can have hope that as others find the world does not satisfy the heart’s longings, others will be #lookingup too.

Janet McHenry is a speaker and author of 24 books–six on prayer, including the bestselling PrayerWalk and her newest, The Complete Guide to the Prayers of Jesus. She would love to connect with you on social media and through her Looking Up! website:

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