You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Mahatma Gandhi
After I had written my first post about kindness, or the lack of it, I thought of my life and times when I was not so kind. The first one that comes to me was an incident while I was in college. I am a sarcastic person and with sarcasm often comes meanness. Sarcasm often puts others down. I feel it is because I had such low self esteem at the time I just wanted to make myself look better by making others look bad. One day I was eating lunch with some friends and made some kind of sarcastic remark. Several people laughed but Jen looked at me and told me how mean I could be. I haven’t seen Jen since college, can’t even remember her last name, but her words stuck with me. I wonder how many of my sarcastic words have stuck with others. I have tried to cut down my sarcasm but I still have a long way to go.
I go for walks around my neighborhood. Mostly for my health. Sometimes this gives me opportunities to be kind to others. I toss a stray ball back to some kids, help a gal corral her loose dog, or simply smile and say hello. However, sometimes I just pass by opportunities to help someone fold up a canvass or tent that I can tell they are struggling with, helping someone lift something heavy into their pick up etc… Then I feel guilty for not helping but if I go back it’s too late. They have already accomplished the task. What makes us some days willing to help and others unwilling?
I believe it is a daily choice. Philippians 4: 8 and 9 says, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
We often quote verse eight, but the key is in verse nine. Paul says that we need to put them into practice. To make a new habit we cannot simply think about doing it, we actually have to do it. Maybe that’s the hard part. Our thoughts and actions must go together. When I find myself faltering in areas, I try to consciously wake up thinking about changing. When I do, I am able to find those opportunities to help others. When I am not concentrating on helping others, I don’t. Maybe God places those missed opportunities to remind me and you about what we really should be doing.
I could have easily gotten mad at Jen, when she told me that I was mean. I could have ignored it and moved on. After all, I really didn’t hang out with her that much anyway. I don’t have to help people or be nice to them. I could simply choose to go my own way. However, I believe I am a better person than that and I believe you are too.
The Dalai Lama once said “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” Since I have started to change my life from ignoring people to being involved with them I have gained self esteem. I no longer have to put others down to make myself feel better. Instead I lift them up and it lifts me up. We get better together.
For those who struggle with similar issues, I encourage you to reach out to someone in need. It will be well worth it. A simple card, smile or opening of a door to start. Small steps bring about big change. I would love to hear your stories about how you made a simple difference.