Friday, January 27, 2012

Giving the Gift of Grace

Last Friday I spent the day moderating comments on my guest post at Michael Hyatt's blog, and it was a great day. Comments poured in, not only on his blog, but on mine, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Nearly all the comments were positive, except one.  One woman expressed her disappointment on my Facebook page,  "I do have to say tho (sic), that I am a little disappointed that you described yourself as a writer, speaker and then a mom and wife. I think the latter two are more impressive and exciting."

In the past, when I allowed my sense of worth to come from other people's opinions, this one comment would have crushed me. But now, I was able to gently respond to her and let it go, for one simple reason.  She doesn't even know me.

She doesn't know that my husband and I worked together creating my Disqus bio tag line, "Christian: Writer, Speaker, Wife, Mom, Leader."  She doesn't know that I've been married 15 years and this past year of marriage has been our best ever. She doesn't know from the time I was a little girl all I ever wanted to be is a mom. She doesn't know the years that I battled infertility, the pain, the disappointment and the financial cost. And she doesn't know that I have been a stay home mom for 12 years, every moment precious to me. Yet, she felt entitled to inform me of her disappointment in the order that I placed 5 descriptive words (in no particular order) about myself.

I have noticed this sad trend on the way we judge each other in the media. Last June, my sister experienced the tragedy of the accidental death of an infant in her home. Devastation does not come close to describing what she went through. Yet people felt free to put heinous comments about her family in the comments section on media reports.

A local boy in my community was paralyzed by striking his head on a rock as he dove into the river. Someone commented on the media news page he must have been drunk to do something so stupid. His life is changed forever, and that comment (a lie) is just another crushing blow.

Just read any news story that allows comments and you will be disgusted by the sometimes vicious, and always judgmental, way people attack those already down. Why do we do that? What do we judge other's situations so harshly? Why don't we show grace, especially when we have no first hand knowledge?

The Bible is clear that the measure by which we judge is the measure we will be judged by. Judge not, lest you be judged. This isn't an excuse to ignore the sins of others.  We are to speak to our friends, in private. We are to speak the truth, in love.

The comments I've been reading lately in the media are not spoken in love, but in hatred. This practice has become so common place that the word "Haters" has been coined to describe people who do it.

I don't know the solution. But I do know, that my new goal is to assume the best about people, giving them the gift of Grace, with the help of God. No one is perfect. Especially me.

Have you ever judged someone harshly, or left a negative comment?  How do you feel about that now?

Chatty Kelly

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Life Without Blinders

I rushed to the checkout counter at the department store. I had just enough time to ring up my purchases and pick up my daughter from school on time. Thankfully, there was only one young man ahead of me.  He chatted away to the check out clerk.  Obviously, he was not running late like I was. I became more anxious as he took his time.

I checked my watch again as they worked through his transaction. He began to count out his money. My annoyance rose. If he didn't hurry up, I was going to have to leave my purchase. He came up short with his money. "Good grief," I thought, "Just hurry up!"  He left his purchases on the counter. Relieved, I checked out and jumped in the car to pick up my daughter.

On the drive, I reflected on the situation.  I'd missed an opportunity, because I'd had blinders on.  I don't remember how much money he was short on his purchase, but I could have given him the dollar or two he needed.  I remembered what he had been saying. "A new shirt for my new job."  He was excited. I'd missed an opportunity to show a random act of kindness; to show him the love of Jesus.

Now, I strive to live a life without blinders on. Here are some tips that help me.

1. Slow down. I was a big hurry.  That was my first mistake. I didn't plan my own time better, so suddenly my running late was his fault. If I hadn't been in a hurry, I would have been relaxed and able to engage in what he was saying in the moment, rather than in hindsight.

2. Don't focus on yourself. It was all about me that day. When I was so focused on myself, I couldn't see the young man. In hindsight I realized how proud and excited he was about his new job. It was probably his first job. I missed the chance to share in, and increase his joy, because I couldn't take my eyes off myself.

3. Be intentional. We have opportunities to help those around us every day if we just take our blinders off.  Now I am more intentional about looking and seeing those around me.

4. Pray. Yes, pray, and ask God to open your eyes. God places people in our path that need to see his light, and we have the chance to reflect it. Be the light.

I am sorry for my actions that day at the store. I am thankful that God is never too busy to see me, and for his amazing grace when I blow it. Those blinders made me blind...but now I see.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.  Matthew 13:15,16

Are you intentionally seeking opportunities to shine God's light or participate in random acts of kindness?

Chatty Kelly

Monday, January 23, 2012

Why Who You Associate With Matters

Are you concerned with the lifestyles of those around you? You should be. Whether or not you admit it, the actions of those you surround yourself with influence your life.

As a Christian married mom, I surround myself with like minded friends to hold me accountable in my thoughts and actions. But what about in the workplace? Think this doesn't apply to you?

That's probably what Joe Paterno thought.  A Penn State football coach for 46 years, he holds the record for the most football victories by an NCAA Division I football bowl subdivision. Yet, his legacy is tarnished by his association with the Jerry Sandusky scandal. And sadly, as his Sunday death is mourned, that scandal will be continue to be associated with Paterno's name.

That's not to negate the power of your influence. Just as you are impacted by those around you, they are impacted by you as well. There is real power in influence. That is why your main associates should be with those you respect and admire. Then make time for those that you choose to mentor as well.

My mom used to say, "Birds of a feather flock together."  Who we surround ourselves with is critically important to who we are, who we become, and the legacy we will leave behind.

When I {God} say to a wicked person, "You will surely die," and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.

Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.  But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.  
Ezekiel 3:18-21
Chatty Kelly