Result as a positive effect, negative outcome, or immeasurable

by | Nov 20, 2023 | Faith, Nature, Writing and Reading | 8 comments |

For the past few days here at Vanaprastha, we’ve had poor air quality, a result of smoke from forest fires due to dangerously dry conditions. A wind shift and cooler temperatures yesterday morning brought gloriously clear skies. Cause and effect, an outcome, a consequence, a result measured, positive or negative.

A result as a positive effect

Keith and I came down with colds last week. As with the cold I had last spring, headache, congestion, drainage, sore throat, and coughs didn’t change my schedule much. Cooking, cleaning, practicing, writing, editing, and dog walking and training. I did take things slower, however, which reminded me of what our dog trainer advised, the woman who fostered both Cato and Mac.

“It’s about slowing down,” she said, controlling doors—entrances and exits—breaking the pattern of amped up hackles. If that happens, say “Leave it” and “Quiet” while walking the dog away on leash. Then return to the door and try again. “Back Up,” if the dog is too close to the door. “Sit. Wait.” This kind of break leads to a solution and relief. 

The result? Less jumping, less barking. Calm. And from my slowing down? More rest and time to recover.

A result as a negative outcome

Remember the self-esteem programs hyped during 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s? According to Jean M. Twenge, Ph.D. author of Generation Me, the result of all these self-esteem programs was zero, no impact, nothing. Except Gen Me’s have a harder time with criticism, and as young adults suffer higher rates of anxiety, loneliness and depression. A negative outcome.

Children who grew up in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, were independent, confident, tolerant, assertive, special, entitled – and miserable. By the 70’s, perhaps due to societal shifts such as divorce, that misery exhibited itself in measurable declines in children’s self-esteem. And thus, the call went out for all schools to teach self-esteem, that is, self-esteem for self-esteem’s sake.

Twenge did not discuss the curriculum specifically, but if my daughter’s experience was representative, it’s no wonder the personal responsibility message got flipped. To Me’s, self-esteem is who you are innately, not what you do, and it’s not your fault when things don’t work out. Unsurprisingly, the desired “feel good about yourself” result didn’t pan out either.

But there is a solution.

An immeasurable result in following

We all have purposes in life, even in the third or fourth stages of life, and we’re all given gifts to accomplish them. Some are given many gifts, some only one. 

Recently, our church asked the membership to fill out a Spiritual Gifts inventory. I’ve taken surveys like this previously, and the result is always the same: generosity, service, helping, and both kinds of leadership. Quite honestly, my gifts aren’t off-the-charts extraordinary. Many people are far more gifted in each of these areas. My gifts function more like a skill set that I can draw upon in combination.

The result of following God’s path and using our gifts for the benefit of others is being better people, more grateful. An immeasurable result.

Requesting prayers for rain and wishing you all a blessed Thanks-giving.

Linkup with Five Minute Friday:


  1. Angie

    Carole, this was a very thought-provoking post. I especially enjoyed the passage about immeasurable results. There are so many things that you will likely never be aware of that have experienced positive outcomes based on the service you give to others. Like the parable of the seed, you might be sowing, watering or weeding, and you never see the resulting flower. My gifts are also service and exhortation, but I believe that the no matter what we see, God is using us. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    • Carole Duff

      Dear Angie, Thank you for your comment – an affirmation. I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving – and await your next book! Loved The Boy in the Basement! -C.D.

  2. Gary Fultz

    What a great discussion starter Carole. I have always known that I am in the middle of the pack at best (probably lower on the spectrum then that) in being naturally gifted. I have always pitched in with what I have and that has made such a difference in the outcomes. I think it started when I forgot to take a step backwards when everyone else did and it was perceived as “volunteering”
    I am viewed by siblings and peers as gifted. I just practiced a lot more than most (especially music and work ethic). I understand the violinist who said “I have practiced 8 – 10 hours a day for 30 years and now they call me a genius”.

    • Carole Duff

      Back at you, Gary, for starting a more interesting discussion than I imagined. B-students have a lot of tools in their skill sets, especially if they practice. Genius? No, but God-pleasing. I wish you a blessed Thanksgiving. -C.D.

  3. Linda M

    We all have natural giftedness, but Spiritual Gifts are always extraordinary because they are not part of our dna, or at least not the whole. God partners with us to accomplish the works He has prepared for us to walk into (in advance). I don’t think our gifts ever feel off the chart because He supplies what we need as we need it, but I bet that if you took on a task that was greater than you have ever tackled before, God would raise the level of those gifts to meet the occasion. 🙂 The great thing is, God gets all the credit!
    Ephesians 2:10

    • Carole Duff

      Well stated, Linda. Amen and Amen.

  4. bigskybuckeye

    Carole, your message reminds me to slow down when life calls for it. As I use my daily quiet time, listening to God helps a great deal. Blessings to you and Keith.

    • Carole Duff

      Dear Richard, I wish you much slow time during this time of Advent. -C.D.


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