Thursday, November 5, 2015

Being Kinder Than You Feel

As recently posted in the Emma Joy Weekly Newsletter

Be 'Sweet as Pie'

If we knew what goes on behind the scenes in people's lives, we would treat them a lot different.

It's fascinating the way we take our anger or frustration out on those around us or put them down by our words, attitude, or manner simply because we are upset. Just imagine what life would be like if everyone in the world gave another person one genuine compliment a day, smiled at people, and offered a helping hand or listening ear no matter where they go or who it is.

Recently my family and I went to buy a few items at a natural foods store. We were about an hour away from our usual surroundings and were surprised at the number of homeless people we happened to see in that particular shopping center and town. My brother and I felt compassion for an elderly gentleman whom you could tell was homeless, so we bought some granola bars and chips for him. We asked what his name was and before walking away he asked what our names were and reached out to shake our hands. This brief experience taught me that even though someone might be homeless, they want to be acknowledged just like anyone else and not looked down upon or treated in any way other than a respectful manner where they receive the same consideration as others who may be financially secure or have more in life.

My grandma is very keen on making other people feel welcomed and paid attention to. A few years ago when she had her own place, she liked to take the bus and go on walks in order to get groceries. She would tell us how smiling at others, saying hello, or engaging in friendly dialogue would really light up some people's faces "Because," she would say, "maybe no one pays attention to them and you don't know if that really made their day. You might be the only person to acknowledge them and everyone likes being paid attention to."

It makes me think back to times during my teen years where I had no filter on what I'd say around adults and could be terribly mean with little regard to how my words were impacting others.

The shortest sentence, rudest look, or passing comment we are told has the ability to stay with us for years to come. Just the same, the words we say and manner in which we treat people has the ability to stay with them for much longer than we would expect or even remember. Misery, change, or a host of other emotions and experiences can cause us (if not surrendered to God and our thoughts taken captive) to be in a perpetual bad mood; a mood in fact that may lead us to say or do things that aren't polite or can be like a sword in someone's heart by the pain it causes. How we treat people could lead them to engage in self-injury, binge eat and cling to having an eating disorder, consider suicide, or continue the cycle of hurting someone else because of their own pain or bad mood due to your influence. It has a snowballing effect and can become a vicious cycle where more and more people are hurt and nothing good results. It leaves people broken and only hinders any growth in having a correct self-image or understanding their worth as God's creation; fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139: 13-14).

I'm unsure what your particular stronghold is or what you have used for as long as you can remember to try and cope with the stresses of life. Something God has been teaching me over the last few months is how sexual acts were not created by Him to be used as a distraction or to numb pain when we feel lonely or are hurting in some way. Sex has specific purposes as described in God's word and feeling good for the moment when we receive bad news or assume we will be single forever isn't it. To you, whether acting out means sleeping around, visiting strip clubs, hooking up with prostitutes, having friends with benefits, engaging in masturbation and porn use, or having one night stands every few weeks, you are using sex and pleasure for the wrong reasons and therefore your unwillingness to part ways with it fully will only leave you even emptier since it can never and will never deliver in the truly satisfying way God intended sex to be enjoyed: in the context of monogamous marriage.

The pleasures will only last and grow if the marriage relationship itself is kept alive through ongoing communication, quality time spent together, seeking the Lord together, a willingness to work on issues in the relationship, staying away from counterfeits like pornography, self-gratification, flirtation, or emotional affairs with someone who is not your spouse, and both people seeking to work on themselves and the relationship on a continual basis. I know this to be true because even in a dating relationship, there is a great difference with the pleasures of sex between you and a boyfriend or girlfriend whom you truly care about vs. a casual fling.

Please pray for me in regards to my speech, attitude, and the deep seated issue I have about caring what others think. I especially hate when people think things about me that are not true or hold my past against me. How it affects me differs depending on the person, time, and situation, yet affect me it does.

Find ways to bless people today. Save the last few cookies for a family member who will be pleasantly surprised to receive this treat. Write a short email to a friend thanking them for something specific you appreciate about them. Let your sibling play a few extra levels of their video game before you watch TV or choose to let it go if someone cancels plans last minute that you've been looking forward to for over a week. You never know what is going on in their lives or how much the kindness you extend will be cherished as a sweet memory!


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