Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Set an Example

I have a close friend who I’ve known all of my life. As I’ve been focused on the idea of kindness and servant-hood, her demeanor and behavior has caught my attention.

My friend has a very strong work ethic. One of her greatest strengths is working towards a goal and maintaining her own plans for her life. Her goal is to get through four years of college debt free. To do this, she oftentimes says no to fun things in the moment so she can get her homework and extra curricular events done. She joins every single academic club available, because she knows that she’ll have a better chance at getting scholarships. When I see her at church, after she has an extremely overwhelming week, I have never heard her complain about her life. She has a goal and is content to live out the steps to reach it.

My friend is very welcoming, at home and away. When she sees me or other friends her face brightens and we know she is genuinely happy to see us. She has a quirky sense of humor, and within a minute she has me laughing. When we’re at church, she makes everyone feel loved and included by talking to each person and showing individual interest in them.
I can see her faith show through her actions towards others. She radiates love, joy, faithfulness, self-control and discipline.

Is she a world changer?
That is a good question.

Whenever I’m around this girl, I feel loved and accepted. More importantly, she has become a role model for me. Her example has helped me set the bar high for myself, not only by being kinder to my family and more engaged with my community, but also more disciplined with my schoolwork and responsibilities.

I’ve never realized how big of an impact another person’s behavior towards me can make. It made me realize how important it is to make a positive impact on others.

So yes, she’s a world changer, because she’s changed mine.  

1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers, in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cookie-Cutter Kindness

It’s hard being kind.

One of the things that can be hard about being homeschooled is being stuck in a house with the same people every day.  Patience sometimes wears thin and we end up snapping at each other.  Although everyone in my family has good relationships with the others, we go through patches where we only notice the things that annoy us and become more frustrated with one another. 

Here’s my dilemma.

I worked really hard at being kind this week. 

While talking to my family, I made my voice soft (in my head I sometimes rolled my eyes), I didn’t talk back when I was frustrated with my mom and dad (all the while holding on to my anger), and I went through the motions of doing the right things.

In the end it all led to more anger toward my family members.

What was missing?

Galations 5:22 reads:
But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

On the outside I was showing cookie-cutter kindness, but inside I lacked all the fruits of the spirit.

Here’s the great thing about my family:  I get to talk things out.  We have scheduled meetings throughout our week to talk about what is going right and what is going wrong.  This week, in response to my frustration with how my plan was going, my dad pointed out that our family has been watching too much television and that our choices in programs were not ones that would draw out the fruits of the spirit.  He made a decision that the shows we watched would be planned events that we watched together and not a way to escape from each other and from responsibility. 

My dad was right. After two days of no television, there has been a significant change in my feelings toward other people. I’ve taken another step into my plan. Instead of being kind on the outside, I actually feel real kindness towards my family.

My conclusion?  I believe kindness can’t be an act.  It has to be real.  In order for it to be real, it needs to be the result of a heart that is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control -Impossible if I’m distracted by selfishness and irrelevant things. 
So, I am hopeful that God will show little by little the changes I need to make in order to be the kind of person He wants me to be.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Let the New Year Begin

My Vocation is Love. –Mother Teresa

Happy 2012!!

It’s a fresh start to a new year and resolutions have been made. I heard that 78% of people at the end of the year have failed to complete their resolutions they made at the beginning. Part of the reason we fail is because we think we’re going to complete our goal all at once. For most of us, that would involve a complete 180-degree turn towards the other direction, with no room for error.  Oftentimes we quit when we don’t achieve instant success.  This doesn’t mean our goals are too big, it just means we need to take smaller steps to reach them.

My resolution this year is to change the world. I don’t plan on solving world hunger or bringing about world peace, but I firmly believe I can change my little corner of the world by being a kinder, gentler version of myself beginning right here in my home. Let’s face it, sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones we live with! Making an effort to love them the way Jesus taught us to love is the perfect training ground for loving and serving my neighborhood and community. 

In a church service I was in this morning, our Pastor was talking about different people who have made a big change in this world. People like Mother Theresa, The Wright brothers, Sir Isaac Newton, and Martin Luther King Jr. When you look at what these people accomplished, you see that their success was not instantaneous and it was not without effort. They took small steps to reach their goals, but they were always moving in the direction of those goals.

Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire. –Reggie Leach

Over the past couple of years I’ve prayed for God to change me. It finally dawned on me that God wasn’t instantly going to change me into the perfect version of myself, but instead if I am focused on delighting in His will and walking in His ways He will give me the opportunity to change. As Pastor Levi said today in his sermon “Change doesn’t happen instantaneously, but rather happens one stride at a time.” So 2012 is the year I take one stride at a time to become the kind and loving adult I want to be.

Luke 10:27    “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and Love your neighbor as yourself.”