I have been stuck. In the mud. In a rut. Like I’m glued to the floor. And maybe today I finally got a glimpse into why.
I have not been able to break through at work to a better working relationship and a better attitude toward the people who work there. I know I need to own my part and stop thinking I am always the victim. I know I can do better, be better, act better, and think differently. But it’s not always easy, especially when you get to the end of the day and have heard no positive feedback and have been made to feel like a Disney villain. When you realize that asking a questions leads to accusations of being insubordinate. When you know that being silent or speaking up leads to the same conclusion – you’re wrong. So where does that leave you? You feel hopeless. You feel defeated. You wonder if it’s worth showing up tomorrow. Because things don’t change. Because things aren’t getting better. Because there doesn’t seem to be an answer to the problem.
And then I watch a 2014 sermon from Andy Jones at Watermarke Church (http://watermarkechurch.com/messages/purpose/). And as I listen, Andy gives me an important clue to my struggles. He said, “People are to be loved, not problems to be solved.” Light bulb on!
It’s not about solving a problem. It’s not about trying to effect change. It’s not about verbally defending myself or staying silent. I’ve had the wrong mindset all this time. Because it’s an issue of love.
The answer is to love people in a godly way. To reach out to the lost, hopeless, broken, and downtrodden people all around me with the same loving touch and hope-full words and accepting attitude as Jesus. It’s about not turning people away when they reach out or come near. It’s about drawing people in with a grace-full attitude. It’s about allowing God to be on display through all you do (another Andy Jones gem).
So I have to stop and ask myself – “What am I doing?” and “How am I acting?” and “What impact am I having?” I have to evaluate if I am loving people or judging them, if I am accepting people or pushing them away, if I am compromising with people or condemning them. I have to take a hard and meaningful look to see what influence I am having. And it starts with my heart.
It starts with me being honest about being hard-hearted and holding grudges about past wrongs – and using that anger as a weapon to keep people away. It starts with me understanding that I need to be more Jesus-like – to let things go, to forgive, to forget, and to move on.
So tomorrow is a new opportunity for me to try a new approach, to have a new attitude, and perhaps to reach a new altitude. To realize that there is so much more I can do differently – which means my impact will be different too. To know I can be better and react better – which means the reaction I get will be better. To humbly acknowledge that holding onto past wrongs keeps me from being accepting – which effects my reactions and therefore my impact.
If I’m unwilling to change, why do I expect God to effect change around me?
I guess at this point God is reminding me, again, that it doesn’t matter what is done to me. What matters is how I respond to it. Am I justifying my bad reaction? Am I stewing in my silent protests? Am I overwhelmed by angst and anger? Am I constantly reciting my list of shame and blame about that person?
Or am I choosing to forgive? To pause before speaking – and then speaking in a positive and humble way? To tear up my shame list and let go of all the wrongs?
And I realize that it’s all about me – because it’s my choice. I choose what emotions I rest in, I choose what words I reflect on, and I choose what “house” I reside in. I can be joyful or judgmental, positive or punishing, accepting or angry. I can be like Jesus, who throws no stones but gives compassion instead, or I can be like the religious leaders who were ready to throw stones and were comfortable (confident) in their self-righteousness (John 8:1-12).
So what’s my choice? I acknowledge the problem and turn to Jesus for a new attitude.
I am hopeful that Jesus will continue to give me new chances. And He’ll be with me as I’m stuck and as I’m getting unstuck. Because He never forsakes us, even in our darkest times or stubborn moments.
And I am hopeful that tomorrow I’ll make the better choice. That I’ll react differently. That I’ll [start to] get unstuck.
Marie Fremin, 7/26/15