The Words of In Jin Moon from 2009
Instead of a scripture reading, Rev. In Jin Moon showed a short film called "Validation" before the start of her sermon. This film is a story of a parking garage attendant named Hugh Newman, who instead of just stamping validation tickets, takes the opportunity to validate people by greeting them with a huge smile and paying them sincere compliments. Newman's simple determination to make people smile starts a "revolution" throughout the country and world. But as the story progresses, Newman meets Victoria, who seems incapable of smiling and being happy, despite Newman's countless attempts to the contrary. Later we learn that Victoria was incapable of smiling because of her mother's sadness. But it is Newman, who through a chance encounter, changes the mother's perspective and gets her to smile, which in turn, changes Victoria's life to one of happiness and countless smiles. www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao
Good morning, brothers and sisters. I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. I had a wonderful time with my family up in Boston. My children played this video, Validation, for me, and it left me with such a warm and fuzzy feeling. So I thought instead of Scripture readings this morning, why not try something new and put all of you in a warm and fuzzy mood?
Truly Thanksgiving is a very special holiday. It’s really the one time in the year that I can be the grand chef in my family. Through my efforts and through the help of my new daughter-in-law, we were able to prepare a fantastic feast. We try to do each dish with a great deal of love and care. I think it really shows when you cook with that much love. When your children bite into that food, they can feel the love and they can experience the love. The feeling that you have at the end of the meal -- even though you feel like stuffed turkeys -- is so satisfying, spending it with loved ones and people that you care about. I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday as well.
As I was thinking about what to talk about, after such a beautiful holiday like Thanksgiving, I thought this video was quite profound in that the importance of a little thing like a smile can really cause a revolution of heart that can change people’s lives. Even though it’s such an amusing little clip, there’s a profound story behind it: that little things matter, that one person can make a huge difference, and that something as insignificant as wanting to share some word of encouragement, some words of empowerment, or some words of support can really transform people’s lives.
For those of us who are mothers in the audience, we understand the meaning of the word validation. This is what we do in the family. Our children literally line up in front of us, just like they were lining up in front of Mr. Newman in the video, because children want to feel like they are seen and heard, and they want to experience your grace through the words that you speak or through simple acts of kindness such as a hug or holding their hand when they are insecure. It’s that kind of loving environment that becomes almost like a security blanket through the difficult years of a child’s life and helps the child find his or her own way, on his or her road of discovery in becoming a beautiful young lady or gentleman.
For those of us who have kids, especially mothers, we go out of our way to be there for our children. We’re always thinking of how to inspire these munchkins to see their own worth, their own value. One of the things I saw when I was shopping for the Thanksgiving holidays was a mother who had two children with her. There was an older child, maybe seven or eight, and a younger child, perhaps two or three years old. The mother was very much doting on the younger child. The older one was helping the mother, being very efficient in terms of picking out the right vegetables. They were going down the shopping list. The older girl seemed like a really mature young lady.
Her younger sister was a bit rambunctious, but no matter what the child did, the mother was always smiling and loving. But to the dependable, responsible older sister, the mother was quite official, basically saying, “Get this; get that.” I was watching this interaction between the mother and the two daughters. The older daughter was looking through baskets of apples, trying to pick the best ones. She called out, “Mom, Mom!” but the mother did not hear because she was busy with the little one and went about her own business gathering other things for the shopping cart. I saw the responsible and dependable daughter start getting a bit flustered. Her voice got a little higher and more strained. Finally the daughter couldn’t take it any more, so she dropped all the apples on the floor, stomped her feet, and called, “Mom!” When that happened, then the mother’s attention went to the older girl.
When I saw the girl’s face and how she needed to express herself just to get her mother’s attention, I realized that many times we tend to forget the good ones in the family. The squeaky wheel gets the oil; the squeaky wheel gets the attention. But when there’s a good child, a dependable child who is so responsible, it’s almost as if the parents turn off to that one so they can give more attention to the squeaky wheel. Over time the good one, the dependable one, might feel unappreciated, unvalidated, uncared-for, feeling the need to act out in order to get the parents’ attention.
Those of us watching this might say to ourselves, “Well, maybe the mother could have been fairer in the way she loves her children. Maybe the older daughter could have been more understanding of the mother, because it’s so difficult to take care of the younger one.” But regardless of how you see this picture, when you walk away from this scene, you have to say to yourself, “It doesn’t really matter where you are in life, whether you’re the good child, or the boisterous child, or the seemingly excellent child, or seemingly troubled child.”
It doesn’t matter who we are. Fundamentally we all want to experience love, and we all want to feel love. When we’re talking about how we are in terms of our own relationship with our parents, there’s nothing that gives us more confidence than a parent’s love. There is nothing that makes us feel more insecure and worthless than not having a parent’s love.
Watching this video, you see the story unfold and realize that Mr. Newman is such a phenomenal human being in his little job of validating people’s worth, reminding them how beautiful they are, how wonderful they are, how incredible they are. He was minding his own business and trying to make a difference in his little cubbyhole. But he was able to make a difference in his world because he put his heart into what he did. He put his heart into loving somebody else, empowering somebody else, taking care of somebody else.
As we see the story unfold, he comes across a lovely lady named Victoria who does not know how to smile. He is almost like a deer caught in the headlights. He sees his love and wants to get to know her. And just as he was so successful in making everyone else smile, he wants to make her smile just as much. But when she does not return his affection, then you see him degenerate into a sad and miserable creature. But even in the midst of his own suffering, he somehow finds the strength to put himself out by concentrating on that lovely couple who wanted to be photographed. And by concentrating on how beautiful they were as a couple, even if he didn’t have anyone to love, he took many beautiful pictures of people.
As I always say here at Lovin’ Life Ministries, God works in mysterious ways. Here he was, a lonely man, wanting love from a woman named Victoria who did not know how to smile. But by focusing on the happiness of the other couples and by wanting to capture something beautiful for them, he came across a crippled and sick woman in a wheelchair. Just as he helped people over the days and weeks to realize how incredible each and every one of them were, he did the same thing for this sick and lonely woman by making her feel like she was finally seen. She was no longer like the invisible tree that everybody walked past; she became a person. Mr. Newman saw this woman for what she was, for her true worth, and that was as a child and a daughter of God.
He listened to her, and by listening to her, he was tapping into the heart of another human being, allowing the other person to feel the incredible feeling of being understood, of being heard. That person was no longer the invisible tree, no longer the voice that had no sound. Suddenly your heart and soul and who you are have a sound that can be heard and understood. That kind of feeling is incredible.
Because he not only saw her as that incredible daughter of God with a divinity within her that could truly transform her sick body into a happy one, and because he heard her heart and made her feel like she was someone so valuable, someone worth his time, she could feel alive again. She could feel like her life had a purpose, that she is a beautiful person who can make another person happy because she is that special someone.
By expressing through his words and actions of kneeling down beside her, holding her hand, and expressing to her how beautiful her eyes were, how beautiful she was, Mr. Newman made her feel like there’s nothing more precious than her in the world. I think we as human beings need to have a Mr. Newman in our lives. We need to feel the magic of Mr. Newman in the context of our own relationships within the family. Husband and wife need to feel like they are seen, like they are not an invisible tree.
I recently got an e-mail from a Japanese couple, and the wife shared a story about a wonderful moment with her husband. As you know, we are in the midst of a unity condition that everybody in the American movement is engaged in, watching Lovin’ Life Ministry every week. One week I shared about my relationship with my own husband, especially about how happy I was when he finally picked up the vacuum and started vacuuming without my having to remind him. It was a simple gesture of not taking me for granted, not thinking that since I was his wife he had a free vacuuming service built in. He made me feel like I wasn’t the invisible person who goes about our home and puts it in order, someone who will tidy up at the snap of a finger. Just that simple gesture of deciding to pick up that vacuum made him tremendous in my eyes, showed effort on his part, and conveyed to me that I wasn’t invisible and taken for granted.
In this e-mail, the wife shared with me that her husband, after seeing that sermon, was on his knees on the kitchen floor, scrubbing. Japanese men don’t do things like that. She said he looked so adorable. And better than adorable, he looked incredibly sexy. There he was, crawling on all fours, scrubbing the kitchen floor, and his wife is thinking, “I’ve never seen my husband more sexy than he is now.”
She did something that is so unlike a Japanese wife. Not only did she think it and absorb it in her being, she actually articulated what she was feeling: “You are really sexy.” Then the husband was so shocked. Most Asian couples don’t even say, “I love you,” but to hear the word sexy coming out of his wife’s mouth, he thought, “What’s gotten into both of us?” So the husband was amazed. She didn’t tell me what happened afterward, but I think we can pretty much figure it out!
This is the power that Mr. Newman is showing to all of us, the power of allowing the other person to know that he or she is not invisible. When we take each other for granted, we become each other’s invisible tree. I remember in kindergarten that this was a joke in the classroom. Because his classmates would not acknowledge him, one boy would literally bump into people and say, “I am the invisible tree,” meaning, “You don’t see me, but I’m going to make you feel me.”
In a marriage, or many times in a family relationship, we treat each other like an invisible tree. We don’t see each other. How many times does a child walk into the kitchen, “Hi, Mom,” and doesn’t even see the mom, no eye contact, just goes straight to the table, eats something, then “Bye, Mom,” and out the door, right? Many times the children don’t see the father or mother, or each other. In that way we take the most important thing, the family, for granted.
Just as this mysterious power of trying to make people smile did wonders for Mr. Newman and his environment, if we exhibit the willingness to see each other as something other than an invisible tree, as something that we all are, eternal sons and daughters of God, treat each other with that respect and see value in each other, then this mysterious thing called the power of true love can take place.
Better than just recognizing the other person is the ability to exercise and practice listening to each other. The power that comes from the ability to listen is a strong one. When children are crying out because they need your affection, what they’re basically saying is, “Listen to me. I need you.” Of course when you’re a child you don’t have the vocabulary to articulate your wants, needs, and desires, so you tend to use sheer volume to get attention. Many times it’s when children stop talking to you that you know you really have to make an effort to take the time to listen to them, to really listen to their heart, to make them feel understood, to make them feel like whatever they’re going through, you are going to be right there and will always be there, assuring them that whatever needs to be worked out, you’re going to work it out together.
As difficult as life can be, just a child’s knowing that he or she can depend on a parent to listen is an incredibly powerful thing. I think too often in the family setting we parents are too busy telling our children what to do, or in a religious context teaching our children how they need to be in order to be God’s children. But often the best way to teach is not verbal indoctrination. Sometimes the best way to teach is by taking that time to listen to what the child has to say and by asking rhetorical questions or using the Socratic method, using questions to encourage a response so that the child has to think through what he or she is feeling.
When I’m looking at the audience and thinking about the American movement as a whole, I see that we’ve done a phenomenal job of putting together workshops and telling people our truth and our understanding of this incredible gift called the Divine Principle. But one of the things that I would like to see in our movement is not just the ability to teach but also to encourage the ability to listen to one other. There is a whole lot of wisdom that we can gather from among ourselves. The more we listen to each other, then the more we can realize what needs to be addressed, what strengths and weaknesses we can work on. In so doing, we make progress and at the same time make people feel like they’re heard and that they are part of the process. If we can get to the point where we can express our truth in a loving way so that we can change our environment -- our immediate environment called the family, or the different relationships we have with different people -- then we can create the wonderful and peaceful world that my father has been talking about for so many years.
When my father says that the family is the building block, or the cornerstone, of a great society and world, he is absolutely right. When you look at this video of Mr. Newman, you realize that the beautiful young girl cannot smile because of something that happened in the context of her family. She grew up with a mother who stopped smiling herself.
Maybe her mother was so sick that she forgot how beautiful the sky was; maybe she forgot how wonderful her daughter was. Maybe she forgot how wonderful it was to still live, albeit in a wheelchair, and be there for her child. Maybe she was so consumed in her own suffering and physical hardship that she forgot to see the beauty that was all around her. She did not realize that because she was complaining, and because she decided not to see the blessings in her life, she was condemning her daughter to a life without smiles. If she could have told herself that just gazing upon her daughter’s beautiful face was blessing enough for each day and take life one day at a time, then she would have given her daughter a beautiful smile, the gaze of her beautiful blue eyes, and she would have been smiling all along.
This video is a great reminder for the parents in the audience. Are we smiling enough? Are we smiling enough when we look at our children? Am I smiling enough to my spouse? Am I smiling enough to my neighbor? We don’t see ourselves, so we don’t see the effect that we have on other people. But the most important thing in our lives is raising decent families and great kids. So this is a simple reminder to know how to be thankful for the things that we do have. Nobody can have it all.
When I was in college, there was a great deal of pressure to be superwoman: to be a great mother, to be a great career woman, to have it all -- fabulous career, fabulous family, fabulous kids. Something’s got to give; you can’t do it all. That’s what I realized. Sacrificing myself for the sake of my kids is the sacrifice of one individual. But I have within my hand the possibility to raise five fantastic kids, and that’s worth it.
If we can smile a little bit more, if we can see the eternal value that the members of our family have in each of them, if we can take the time because we truly love them to listen to whatever they may have to say and be willing to work through the difficulties of life, then the heart can be warmed. When you see the beauty of people and take the time to hear what their heart has to say and make them feel understood, and then on top of that express in your words and actions just how much they mean to you, then that is the beginning of this incredible true love revolution that my father is talking about.
Dr. Maya Angelou once said that it takes great courage to love. I always say that it takes a little bit more than courage; it takes a decision first. You have to decide to love. It does take effort, but let’s make that decision to love, to see your spouse as an incredible eternal being, to listen to your children, when they’re going through some difficult times and you’re fed up to here, and to express to them how much they mean to you.
So instead of a father looking at his son and saying, “He’s a grown man. I can no longer hug my son,” how wonderful it would be to give it a try? And as difficult as it is for you or me, coming from a certain cultural background, to express those simple words, “You are really sexy,” go ahead and decide to do it. Have the courage to express exactly what you’re feeling for the other person. See the magic happen in your lives, and see it happen in your relationships.
Please know that God, our Heavenly Father, has always been there, always encouraging us. The Bible tells us in John 15:14 that God is asking all of us to love each other as he loves us. Let’s think for a moment, How does our Heavenly Parent love us? He sees us not as an invisible tree. He sees us as his children, as his eternal sons and daughters. I don’t think there is anybody in the world who is a better listener than our Heavenly Parent. How many prayers has he heard? How many cries has he heard? How much laughter has he heard? He has heard it all, and he and she still continue to listen to our hearts whenever we decide to open our hearts to him and her.
Through his grace and through her grace, we feel the love that God shows us in our daily lives. It may not be a grand miracle of a fantastic cake appearing before you just as you want to bite into a chocolate cake. Many times he articulates his love to us in the small details of life. It’s in the simple things that we frequently overlook, that we take for granted, where you and I can find God. It’s in the simple beauty of the blue sky that we see his majesty. It’s in the beautiful intricacies of a flower blooming that we see how incredible his artistry is: or better yet, when we look at the beauty of our children. That has got to be the greatest gift that God has given to us.
In our community, our True Parents have taught us the importance of true love, true life, and true lineage. To know that we and our children are part of God’s lineage, if that’s not a blessing, I don’t know what is. So parents, we need to make sure that we are smiling every day, and that we are showing our children how incredible they really are.
This is a great time for children to also appreciate their parents and smile back. Instead of going in and out of the kitchen without ever having eye contact with your mother, what about stopping there for a minute and giving her a hug, looking at your mother or father and saying, “You know, I really love you. Thank you so much for taking care of us.” It’s in these little things that great families are made. It’s based upon this kind of foundation that’s laid day in and day out that we can see our children blossom into fantastic specimens of true people who can usher in the peaceful world that we’ve been waiting so long for.
Whenever I talk about my father’s dream of building a peaceful world, I remind you of the word peace. When you take it as an acronym, it’s a reminder for us that God is our eternal Heavenly Parent, P, that we are his and her Eternal sons and daughters; and that we really need to be an Altruistic person like Mr. Newman, thinking about others, really taking care of others, just because. By exercising this wonderful thing called Compassion, by taking care of other people, by exercising our kindness, we are allowing God’s mysterious magic to happen in our lives. In so doing, we can raise Excellent men and women of God -- not just externally excellent but internally excellent.
I’m hoping that you can go back to your homes with a warm and fuzzy feeling. Please remember this video, and please remember to smile. Remember how powerful your smile, your beautiful face, and your beautiful words are for your family, your friends, and your community.
God bless, and thank you very much.
1: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
2: Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3: You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you.
4: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5: I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
6: If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.
7: If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.
8: By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.
9: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.
10: If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
11: These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13: Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14: You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15: No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16: You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17: This I command you, to love one another.
18: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.
19: If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20: Remember the word that I said to you, `A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.
21: But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.
22: If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.
23: He who hates me hates my Father also.
24: If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
25: It is to fulfil the word that is written in their law, `They hated me without a cause.'
26: But when the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me;
27: and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning.