Monday, February 27, 2012

Stepping Outside Yourself

So, this is the first full week of Lent and today begins our official RELENTLESS ACT:S OF SACRIFICE challenge.

This week’s challenge involves sacrificing our surroundings and we have chosen to sacrifice T.V. for the week.  And during the time we will be writing a letter a day to 5 different people.

This is also my 5th day of my own fasting coffee and negative speaking.  The coffee has not been the ordeal that I thought it would, though I did really want a cup of coffee yesterday afternoon after church.  The negative speaking, however, has been a much harder challenge.  I do have children, after all.  And with the stuff we’ve had going on in our lives, I’ve had to be really purposeful about what comes out of my mouth.  But, I must admit, I have never been one to shrink from a challenge of this type.  I mean, when my husband went overseas for 18 months, I needed to lose weight, and I chose to join a weight-loss group between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  AND, I actually lost weight over the holidays.  I figure if I can lose weight over Christmas, then I can choose my words carefully, and not speak negatively during a difficult time in our lives.  I think this is also precisely why I felt led to take on this challenge during Lent at precisely this time.  I’ve been feeling very much like a negative person here lately, and not liking it (or myself) that much for the way I have been responding to those around me, simply because I am stressed.  I have been spending entirely too much time focusing on negative things and not enough time trying to find the positive side of things.  

 This simply had to change!!!

As for the LENT 2012 challenge, I was thinking that maybe some of you might be wondering why you should bother or where you should (or could) start.

Well, I’m not sure I can adequately explain why you should bother.  All I can tell you is why I bother.

          See, I was raised in church.  I know all the right things to say.  I’ve known how to behave (Whether I’ve always done it is another story).  But I recall sitting in church during my high school years thinking there has to be more to being a Christian than just getting my ticket punched and riding the train to Heaven.  Not that I thought I had to work my way there, but I felt like I ought to be doing something – to express my gratitude, to show that my salvation meant something to me, or just to show that I was saved.

          Since then, I have come to realize that my everyday life ought to reveal that I am saved and that my salvation means something.  But I do not want to be just another person here on Earth taking up space, not caring about anything outside of my line of sight, not contributing.  I want there to be a void when I’m gone that people have to rush in to fill because Nature abhors a vacuum.  I want to leave a legacy, to leave something behind worth looking at.  I want my eulogy to write itself.  And I want my existence to be something more than really words can express on my tombstone!  I want people to remember that I cared about more than just myself!  That’s why I bother.

                                      BUT, WHERE TO START?

Wow!  Well, that depends on where you are, what your resources are, and what you have access to.

The point behind getting involved is to get your mind off yourself and on to others.

This doesn’t have to involve spending any money, or being some huge celebrity with a large audience – more mouthpiece than do-gooder.

          For instance, you could visit someone in a nursing home.  Nobody wants to be in a nursing home!  Least of all the residents.  How about going to your local nursing home and asking to visit a patient who hasn’t had a visitor in a long time.  It’s free and has nothing to do with you!

          How about writing an actual letter to someone!  You know how nice it is, at Christmas, to get a piece of REAL mail.  Not a bill.  Not a sales flyer.  But an honest-to-goodness hand-written letter that somebody took time out of their day to write.  All it will cost you is the price of a stamp and an hour or so.

          You could pick up the phone and call your grandparents.  Or your Momma and Daddy.  Or your great aunt Suzie, or uncle Bud.  Anybody you haven’t spoken to in a while.  Somebody that had an impact in your life that you wish you could tell.  Surely, there’s someone.

          How about finding out the birthdates of all your family members and sending them cards (they have inexpensive cards at all the dollar stores) or giving them a call to let them know you were thinking about them.  No texts, no emails, but actual connection and contact with a real live person.

          In case you missed the trend here, what I am suggesting means you have to step outside yourself for a bit and do something selfless, something from which you do not directly benefit.


            Because life is not all about you!  Life is not all about me!

If you want things in your life to seem better, if you want to change your perspective on your own problems and issue, or your life in general, try putting someone else’s needs before your own.  Try focusing on someone other than yourself for 15 minutes, a couple of hours, or even a whole day.  You may just find that while you were trying to reach out to someone else and make their day better, your own situation has bettered itself a bit.

     Even Jesus came to serve rather than to be served.  Maybe we could follow His lead.  Jesus knew all His earthly needs were going to be met.  He never owned a thing.  He had no property, no home, no place to call His own to lay His head, and yet, He ate and drank and always had a place to sleep and clothes to wear.

                                                       Just think about it!

What would our lives look like if we spend our time serving others, trusting God to take care of us?

                                         It’s something worth considering…..

Well, with that, I am done.
Thanks AGAIN for your indulgence,

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