Finding Your Alva… January 6, 2012

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His name was Thomas Alva Edison, and considering the fact that he invented the light bulb, we can certainly credit him for helping to illuminate the world. We know three things about him:  he was kind, he was inventive and he had a funny middle name. What would have happened if Mr. Edison had decided to be overly sensitive about his middle name? What if he had heard the “Johnson jeers” of his young playmates as a boy and had become reclusive, burying his inventive nature and failing to birth his kind one? What if he had allowed society and the world around him to determine his reactions and destiny?

I don’t have all of the insight on Thomas, but I do know that his middle name is no secret and that it is often included as part of his whole signature. So somewhere along the line, Edison made his peace with his “Alva.”

The majority of humanity is stymied by their own obvious weakness. They become ashamed of their uniqueness, overwhelmed by critique or they just attempt to escape any further scrutiny. They are ashamed of their “Alva.” Rather than pushing their weakness to the forefront, making it obvious and developing a sense of humor about it, they become sensitive and often fail to unearth the better parts of themselves.

Yes, if Thomas Alva Edison had been intimidated by those who mocked his middle name, he not only would have failed to become kind–and an inventor–but would have remained a bitter unknown.

How about Jesus of Nazareth? He was a Galilean and uneducated–but who just happened to be the son of God. As you read his story, you discover that the world around him wanted to point out over and over again that he was “from Galilee”–and therefore meaningless–and that he had no formal education and should have been relegated to the status of a carpenter. If Jesus had a defensive nature, a fear of critique or had judged himself by the opinions of others, we would have nothing to show for him except a few artifacts of wood and maybe a partially destroyed wall. Jesus decided to make it clear that he was a Nazarene by beginning his work in Galilee, without apology. He never argued when they claimed he was not educated or not worthy to be a priest, because he ignored the standard teaching style of the religious folks of the day, and instead, just told stories. And because he was not fearful of what others deemed to be his weakness, he was able to play up his strengths. He found his “Alva”–and rather than fighting over it, hiding it or becoming despaired because he wasn’t viewed to be the “top dog,” he played up his weaknesses and the world ended up playing them down.

I have spent the past two days in a little town called Alva, Florida. The people there are isolated, not very wealthy, but tender-hearted. I will tell you the truth–if they look at themselves as isolated–stuck somewhere between Tampa, Orlando, Fort Myers and Miami–and they spend all their time complaining about their lack of funds, they will never make it into the history books, let alone create a newness of life in their own community. Just as Thomas Edison had to learn how to laugh at his own middle name, giving the world no ammunition against him, and Jesus of Nazareth embraced being a Galilean and refused to be relegated to ignorance, but instead, told stories about real life, the people of Alva must lead with their tender-hearted nature, while freely admitting they are isolated and don’t have many bucks. If they do, they will disarm their critics and fail to give anyone the bullets to gun down their spirits.

My name is Jonathan Richard Cring. I am a fat boy who has no college education but was born with a creative streak. I could have spent most of my life apologizing for my lack of degrees, or hiding away in my house because my obesity was so obvious, but instead, I decided to laugh at my tubbiness, be honest about my schooling and lead with my creative streak. So what the world could have used against me, I stole from them.

The key to your success, my dear friend, is finding your “Alva,” and rather than denying it, fussing about it or becoming extremely angry over people’s reaction, play it up so the world has to play it down. Because Jesus said it well:

“He that will gain his life will lose it.”  He who thinks he becomes stronger by being angry at the criticism of others will end up at their mercy. “But he that will lose his life for my sake shall gain it.”

Bluntly, if your foibles are already spoken into the air, anybody else mentioning them becomes ridiculous and redundant.

Find your Alva.  Be honest about your weakness–which gives you permission to play up your strengths.

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Jonathan wrote the gospel/blues anthem, Spent This Time, in 1985, in Guaymas, Mexico. Take a listen:

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To see books written by Jonathan, click the link below! You can peruse and order if you like!

http://www.janethan.com/tour_store.htm

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