And even now when I’m inside Your hand, help me not to go frightful again. Don’t let me forsake sacrifice. Jesus, You be lifted high.
Ironically, as I typed that last lyric and truthfully a declaration, the pilot decided that we were going to descend as if we were Disney’s “Tower of Terror”. My butt lifted off the seat for a nanosecond, but ever the weirdo, while everyone screamed, a bright grin appeared on my face. It’s a miracle that I didn’t scream “woohoo”. If you are wondering, where I’m at, I’m airborne.
As I sit on what feels like the longest plane ride ever, I meditate on a couple of things that I am working through. Never in my wildest dreams, would I have thought that I would be as vocal as I am about seeing a counselor, regularly. Yet more and more, I notice, that I want to share about it and not just because I think it’s wonderfully improved my life but because I believe it could impact other’s lives as well. Whether it’s cultural or generational, many of us struggle with the idea of seeking outside help but no man is an island and we cannot do it on our own. Seeking help doesn’t make us weaker, on the contrary, it strengthens us to be stronger, more capable human beings. Think of the mind and mental health, as you would think of your core. Go to any gym trainer and they will explain the importance of strengthening your core to prevent injury during exercise. Well the same can be said about your mind, we must work on our weaknesses, address the issues, and strengthen the wobbly bits in order to prevent injury against self or against others.
You may think, well I would never hurt myself physically and that may be true, I feel the same. And yet I hurt myself emotionally, in the way that I speak to myself. I heard someone say, “speak to yourself, the way that you would speak to a friend.” Would you allow anyone to speak to your friends the way you speak to yourself? Yeah, I wouldn’t either.
I had the opportunity to attend a Communicator Workshop last night and they asked us to remember the most impactful message we had ever heard. My mind immediately went to a message that I heard at my local church, over 5 years ago. The preacher, Joel Timothy Houston, spoke about tender hearts and the mark they leave on our lives. He share about how he and his friends had stolen frozen hearts from the science lab and the Australian heat thawed them and so they decided to throw them around the hallways and weeks later, there were still bits of “thawed heart” laying around. This was an animal heart by the way. Animal activists, please don’t get upset with me, I was not their lab teacher. I remember sitting down for that message twice and thinking about how wonderfully he spoke about us having such tender hearts that they would impact those around us for generations to come. Something stirred inside me, and although this was not said by JTH, I remember coming to this thought “hard hearts leave a scar”. It was a simple thought but it marked my life so drastically and it’s marking my life furthermore now. And as I sit here, I think about how my hard heart could hurt and potentially scar others if I don’t work on it. That thought alone, well, it’s enough to keep me on track of the challenging road that is, becoming a better version of myself.
Working on myself has made me more aware of my responses. I finally understand that my responses say more about my internal state of being than what is being said to me. It is my choice to be offended and so I must practice instant forgiveness. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. And if you’re thinking, well that’s just not in my nature… It’s not in mine either. It’s something that I must be intentional about, something that I must work on, constantly. My best friend is great at this, and she knew that for a while I wasn’t as good as she was and so she’d apologize profusely every time she was merely human. Now when she apologizes, I have to ask “what for?” or try to figure it out because it feels unmerited. I’m not an expert, I’ve not achieved perfection, I still get offended at times but it’s less and less every time. Here’s what I have:
1. How I react to other’s words says more about me then it does about them. So when I get upset, angry, sad, hurt, or all of the above, I must ask myself, where is this stemming from? Is it a past hurt? An unsolved issue with the person who is speaking?
2. It is my choice to be offended, and furthermore, it is my choice to remain offended. And that is not a choice that I want to make so I choose to remain un-offended. That’s a choice that I must make daily, hourly, gosh sometime by the minute. Ha!
3. When in doubt, assume the best. When someone speaks, can I run through the day they’ve gone through? What if it hasn’t been their day, their week, their month, or even their year. You know? Or what if they have a lot on their mind? Now some people are just not kind. I wanted to say “jerks” but I’m working on being kinder! Well, that’s on them. Don’t let someone’s unkind words be what ruins your day.
Written last Wednesday, as I flew from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. I am not an expert and I’m merely sharing from my experiences.