"Use Your Heads As You Live And Work Among Outsiders. Don't Miss A Trick. Make The Most Of Every Opportunity. Be Gracious In Your Speech. The Goal Is To Bring Out The Best In Others In A Conversation, Not Put Them Down, Not Cut Them Out."
Colossians 4:5-6 (The Message)
When I gave my first sermon, my Pastor told the congregation that after that night, I would never be the same.
As usual, he wasn't lying.
Before God, my family and friends, I was charged to speak life into people, all people.
What he didn't tell me, was how to speak life into the ones who are so hateful and ugly.
The ones who whisper behind your back, then smile to your face.
The ones who wait for you to make a mistake, then rub your face in it.
The ones who turn their face, when they see you coming.
The ones who cut you down, with every breath they take.
The ones who take pleasure in seeing you stumble, in seeing you fail.
It is easy to speak life into those who are nice to you, it isn't so easy to speak life into those that wish your death.
The day after I was charged with this, something within me began to stir.
I could no longer just belt out a response and then feel guilt over it later, before I could even open my mouth, I could hear the whisper "Speak Life" within my soul.
I would find out later that this would be part of the Sanctification process.
Sanctification is defined as; To set apart, consecrate...To make holy, purify.
Sanctification is a progressive work done by the Holy Spirit over the span of our entire lives.
It is a painful process at times...
The Lord is working with you to fully expose and weed out all of the negative qualities that He doesn't want to be within your personality.
God desires that each of us enter into a true sanctification process with Him so that He can begin the process of molding, shaping, and transforming us into the image of His Son.
Once the Sanctification process starts, you have to be willing to work with the Holy Spirit.
You have to get into His Word and find out exactly what He would want to change about you, then you need to find the qualities He will want you to put onto your personality, as well as which ones He would like you to remove.
Begin with the 9 Fruits of the Spirit; Love, Joy, Peace, Longsuffering, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
Remember, these are His, not yours.
His love, His joy, His peace etc...Stamped into your personality.
I seem to have gotten off track... Back to speaking life.
Negative and abusive words cut to the very center of a person.
Remember that old adage "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?"
What a lie that is.
The tongue has the power of life and of death.
Words spoken in anger, words spoken in passing, words spoken out of pain...
If you aren't mindful of the words you are speaking, you have the power to cut someone to their very core.
By nature, I am a sensitive person, perhaps too sensitive, depending on who you ask.
I spent a lifetime seeking the approval of others, seeking kind words, seeking praise from those surrounding me and there were more times than naught that it didn't matter what I did, it just didn't seem to be enough.
Then the world as I knew it blew up in my face and I was suddenly surrounded by people who were kind, caring and compassionate.
People who were more than willing to give me the approval I sought for so long, the only problem I found was that I wasn't seeking approval of "man" anymore...
I was seeking His.
He is the one I go to, before I do anything, His words are what I seek, His approval is what I need, His praise is what I want.
However, because I am human, there are still days when other humans can take the wind right out of my sails, with a careless word or with an ugly phrase.
No matter where we go in life, we are bound to face off with difficult people, with people who seem to derive extreme pleasure in hurting others, and then there are the ones who just don't know that what they are saying, is actually hurtful.
I have spent no less than the past 2 weeks listening to a few people who seem to fit under this umbrella and then there are a couple who just seem to enjoy being mean....
It doesn't matter what is being said, what matters is the response you (or me in this case) project.
Do you respond in anger, perhaps with even uglier words?
Do you get angry and allow them to ruin your day?
It took me an awful long time to learn, to actually put into play, that I will not allow someone else to steal my joy and I will be the first to admit I still let it happen, especially depending on who the person is.
My skin is not thick, perhaps thicker than it used to be, however I still take to heart what people say to me, as well as about me.
It has taken me a long time to fully understand that people will hate you for one of three reasons; They hate themselves, they want to be you or they feel you are a threat to them.
It is a process that I am working on, to get to the place where it no longer bothers me, where no matter what you say, nor what you do, I will not allow it to affect my life.
How I respond though, falls squarely on my shoulders.
Sometimes I just listen and don't respond, sometimes I will respond with kind (not like) words, sometimes I will just walk away...
Each response brings something to me....
You see I have to live with myself and the responses I give to people and I have found that if I give the wrong ones, I have tremendous amounts of guilt, because I know it is displeasing to Him.
M told me one day, as I was struggling with how to react to all that was going around me, to stop and look at the person as a child of His, not as my husband or a friend or a family member ~ As a child of God.
Once you are able to put that into perspective, speaking life becomes easier.
I am not going to tell you that you, (nor I for that matter) won't fall back into old habits of lashing out in anger, because we aren't perfect, however, it becomes easier as time goes on.
2 years ago, you could have lashed out at me and most likely I would have responded word for ugly word, a year ago, I most likely would have defended or argued, today I make the effort to see Him in each person I come in contact with, knowing He placed them on my path for a reason.
I told my Pastor last week, if you are going to continually look for the good in people, regardless of how they treat you, there is a price that must be paid...
The question is, are you willing to pay the price?
Are you willing to put yourself out there, in the path of the fiery darts, to seek the goodness, underneath all the rubbish?
If you call yourself a Christian that is exactly what you should be doing.
Speak life, kindness, compassion and love....
The reward will come from within you and it allows His light to shine out of you.
TENTH AVENUE NORTH
And It's Not Enough To Just Say, "I Believe"
'Cause Truth Is That Talk Is Cheap
So Grace Give Me Eyes To See