This year at Grand Convention, Ms. Sally Thomas wrote the devotional that was heard by many. Sally currently serves on staff as the Membership Services Manager, and she came home to Alpha Delta Pi at Beta Sigma, Mercer University. Attendees received valuable insight on how our creed, obligations, and faith contribute to how we live our lives and our self worth.
July 2nd, 2017 Devotional
Faith and Loyalty
These words are from our Creed. They are stand-alone words – strong, positive, challenging and inspirational words – they are very connected for us, and they are more than words! They are goals, reminders, guides – hopefully, they are part of our everyday lives.
We sign Obligations when we are initiated and those obligations work both ways. How is Alpha Delta Pi, as an organization, living up to our obligation to our members? Among other things, investing in our members by spotlighting and educating on bystander behavior, MeanStinks, anti-hazing, inclusion, Taking a Stand, a revised academic approach, and through the Adelphean Compass and IMPACT Alpha Delta Pi programs. These learning opportunities are tools the sorority, with funding from the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation, offers in an effort to enable a member to strengthen her personality and character.
The opportunities for leadership roles in our chapters, on our advisory boards, as International Officers span a life time, as you know.
How seriously do we, as individuals, take our obligations to our sorority? What obligations do we have to each other? Our strength of character and integrity play a large role in our desire to and effort in meeting our obligations.
Our Creed highlights four points symbolized by our diamond-shaped badge. The first is strengthening my own character and personality. This takes determination and courage – to take risks, to tackle challenges, to handle difficult conversations, to accept productive criticism. This takes a sense of worth and is hard work. Our personal sense of worthiness enables us to be willing to do the work. Growth is easier and works better when we are not trying to do it alone.
The second of the four points in our Creed is watching my attitudes toward my fellow beings – this is one way we can meet the obligations of membership. It takes compassion – both towards others and towards ourselves. Compassion and tolerance come more easily when we feel worthy ourselves. We are less likely to be jealous or critical of others.
The third point – recognizing the value of high educational standards imposes an obligation and responsibility upon our individual members as well as our chapters.
– Recruiting women who have demonstrated a commitment to learning and who share this value is critical.
– Awareness of grades, mature study habits, a chapter atmosphere of expectation, balancing social requirements so as not to detract from academic goals – these are our obligations to our sisters.
The collegians’ obligation to the sorority is to take their studies seriously, to appreciate the opportunity a college education affords them. It is up to us to model this.
The fourth point in our diamond is developing faith and loyalty – by enabling a sense of worthiness in our sisters, we model and encourage them. Loyalty is based upon trust – a safe environment, knowing the people around you value you and have your back. Loyalty is learned by observation of others.
A strong unshakeable belief;
An obligation or fidelity to a person, a promise;
Confidence or trust in a person or thing;
A belief that is not based on proof.
A woman can set a goal for herself, but faith is what will ultimately allow her to achieve that goal. The quality of faith possessed by you depends upon how positive your approach towards life is.
It is said that Faith is something that cannot be seen. It is belief in the unseen. The same can be said about Sisterhood. Each of us is a role model. We never know when or by whom we are being observed.
A couple of years ago, I had an appointment with a new physician to whom I had been referred. She examined me, we talked and the appointment was over. As I was leaving the examining room, she came back down the hall saying, “Sally Thomas, Sally Thomas – are you an ADPi?”
How did she know!?? I had been her Alpha member advisor in the 1980’s. She told me she remembered the new members saying to each other how they wanted to be like me.
Who has been observing you?
I also believe Sisterhood can be seen.
- Sisterhood can be seen in two Alpha Eta sisters – one who donated her kidney to the other.
- It was seen when Anna Kate Sumler voluntarily spent a long holiday weekend cleaning a house at Sewanee in which Leadership Consultants would live during the year while working with our colony there.
- It can be seen by sisters stepping up to endow a grant or scholarship or by donating to the Clasped Hands Fund – helping sisters they will never meet.
- It can be seen in the admiration in the eyes of a sister who meets a revered alumna.
- It can be seen by the humility and grace demonstrated during elections.
- It can be seen when sisters gather from all parts of the country to celebrate a marriage or the loss of a loved one.
- It can be seen when an alumna purchases a badge for a collegian who lost hers.
- It can be seen when advisors work to counsel a collegiate member, guiding her to make better, healthier decisions.
I recently discovered Dr. Brené Brown – researcher, professor, author, trained counselor, and storyteller. One nugget from her research jumped out at me and it is the importance of a sense of worthiness. This one word was my inspiration for our time together.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, Worthiness is:
Deserving effort and attention; Good enough
The Bible tells us we are created in God’s image. We all are automatically worthy. That is remarkable! By virtue of our birth, which is a gift from God, we are automatically worthy – worthy of love and of all the good in the world – each one of us. I believe this word – worthy – ties it all together in Alpha Delta Pi.
According to Dr. Brown, connection gives purpose and meaning to our lives. She found that the fear of disconnection was a main concern for people:
The fear that we have done something or failed to do something, that something about us or where we came from has made us unlovable and unworthy of connection.
Her research led her to conclude that we resolve this concern by understanding our vulnerabilities and cultivating empathy, courage and compassion.
I’m not on going down a rabbit hole here – stay with me!
Dr. Brown wanted to know how some people are able to move through life with disappointments – the harsh realities of life and are still able to believe they are enough. She was looking for people living with their whole hearts despite risks and uncertainty – what were the patterns and themes that defined their wholeheartedness. She found by understanding our vulnerabilities and cultivating empathy, humility, courage and compassion, this was possible.
Familiar words! Our Creed reads, “Leadership requires confidence tempered with humility and courage blended with tolerance.”
Dr. Brown goes on to say …
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort. It’s choosing what is right over what is fun, fast or easy. It’s choosing to practice your values rather than simply professing them.”
Caralee Strock Stanard got it right – without six years of intensive research!
Dr. Brown talks about living in a wholehearted way characterized by complete sincerity and commitment. In order to do this, we must feel worthy
A sense of worthiness creates:
- Courage to be imperfect
- Compassion towards ourselves and to others
- Connection, as a result of authenticity
- Vulnerability to take risks – to engage in a relationship whether it be with one individual or with our sorority.
There are no prerequisites for worthiness. There are no limits to our ability to promote it either.
I believe the words in our Creed are bound together in worthiness.
Our tagline reads – Come Home to Alpha Delta Pi. Home is a place where we should be safe, should be shown compassion, where we should be encouraged and made to feel worthy – Home in Alpha Delta Pi. This should be our touchstone and our chapters and sisters a living example.
Let’s get personal, because isn’t Alpha Delta Pi personal? My perception is that each of you grew up confident, strong, knowing you are worthy – and you continue to know your worth. That may not be accurate because worthiness isn’t visible from the outside. From here I can’t tell who might not feel worthy or why, but I know you are worthy!
I didn’t grow up feeling particularly worthy and it took a while to get there. My husband has been the greatest influence and encourager in my life on the path to worthiness. And there are many sisters who have enriched my life by contributing to my sense of worthiness.
Lisa Thornton met me on the Mercer campus when I visited as a high school senior. She gave my name to her sister and that was the beginning.
- Daizye Belle Fletcher, a life-long friend of my mother’s wrote my Potential Member Profile.
- Becky Moser encouraged me to serve as New Member advisor to Delta Alpha.
- Nan Van Patten encouraged me to step up as Chapter Advisor.
- Marilyn Long encouraged me to serve as a Province President.
- Beth Mannle encouraged me to run for Grand Council.
Without the encouragement of these sisters, and many others, I would have missed some of the most amazing experiences of my life and the joy of feeling worthy. Each shared of themselves and cared.
You may be familiar with this exchange between an Angel and God, which I am paraphrasing:
On the sixth day, as God was working late on Woman, an Angel asked why He was spending so much time on her. God said, “Have you seen all the specifications I have to meet to shape her?”
“She must function in all kinds of situations. She has strength that amazes a man. She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens. She holds happiness, love and opinions.
‘She smiles when she feels like screaming. She sings when she feels like crying, cries when happy and laughs when afraid. She fights for what she believes in.
‘Her love is unconditional. Her heart is broken when a next-of-kin or a friend dies but she finds strength to get on with life.’”
“She has just one drawback – she often forgets what she is worth.”
“I believe in Alpha Delta Pi. I believe that my sorority is more than a Ritual, more than a symbol. That it is a way of life.”
We can ensure our sisters know how much they are worth by modeling this and instilling it in each other. I believe our sisterhood is worthy of this.