Have you heard this quote? The words you speak become the house you live in. (Hafiz)
I totally agree with this but I believe a few words need to be added for it to become true for me: The words you speak to yourself become the house you live in.
How we think and how we talk to ourselves has everything to do with the house (the life) in which we reside. Our thoughts affect how we view ourselves and the world we live in, how we feel, interact and react. The "walls" of our interior life can be plastered with wallpaper made of thankfulness and joy, or, in contrast, posters of anger, fear, and bitterness.
I would like you to have a great summer living in a most lovely summer home, beautifully decorated. So here are a few suggestions on what you can say to yourself so you can have a meaningfully rich summer.
1. I will not be offended.
If I could have a soapbox to stand on all day long, I would shout out one thing for all to hear: "Be determined to NOT take offense!!" I have learned this the hard way and know how easy it is to feel offended. Being offended is a rampant reaction from our interstates to grocery stores and family members to church members. I wonder how many times in the past month these words have come out of my mouth. "Don't be offended!"
Taking an offense only hurts the one who is offended! I encourage you to choose instead to talk with the person (if you can) about what hurt you, quietly and respectfully. Express yourself and then forgive. Each time it comes to your memory, forgive again. Don't water the seeds of offense. They will grow up to be nasty weeds that steal what is good from you. YOU will be the one who misses out. You will miss the joy of being free of the burden of anger or unforgiveness. And, worst of all, offense causes division when gossip invites people to take sides and unity is broken. Oh, for goodness sake, and for the love of God, STOP taking offense. (Don't mean to yell, but when I'm on a soapbox I can get going.)
2. I can be the inviter.
Instead of thinking that no one likes me or wants to be with me, I want to be the one who invites others to join me. How about you? If you have nothing going on next Friday, get on the phone and invite someone to do something with you. Our daughter talks about being someone who is building the life she wants. She doesn't wait for it to come to her. Invite! "Come sit with me! Let's meet for coffee! Would you like to go to that event with me?"
I love to be invited and I know most people feel the same way. Someone recently said to me, "I'd like to get to know you better." It was a super inviting thing to say. This friend and I got together and drank lots of coffee while engaging in good conversation. I encourage you to be an inviter this summer.
3. I can step into a room ready to be a giver.
Shauna Niequist writes, " When you bring a grace-soaked, grounded soul to any room you walk in, you are offering yourself as an instrument for healing."
I often tell myself on the way to church, to be sure to be on the lookout for women who might need encouraging. That cheering can be as simple as a smile. Perhaps it means stopping to chat and ask a few questions. Sometimes it will lead to praying over something that is difficult.
To do that though, I need to get to church a bit early (which is HARD for us) or stay a while after church to look for people to talk to. The purpose is to show love. To offer myself as an instrument for healing.
That means I do not rush right out of church after the last worship song. It means I look up and around searching for people who need to be noticed and reached out to. And then I step toward them with the intent to connect in some way.
It means to practice the art of asking questions and being curious. People love to talk about themselves. My husband and a few friends I know have mastered this amazing way to show that they are interested in people ! I have to remind myself, but I work at it.
What can I give of myself to make this workplace, this church, this picnic, this neighborhood, this line at Walmart, a welcoming place?
4. I Can Show Love in Unique Ways.
In the book, Everybody Always Bob Goff, an exceptionally outgoing man, writes about how he has taken the love of Christ seriously. He is on a life mission to love people openly and confidently by doing the unexpected in unusual ways. In this guest post on Ann Voskamp's blog, Bob tells about one of the many times he showed outlandish love - the kind that builds people up and does not expect anything in return. It's a fun read.
You and I may not be as outgoing as Bob, but in quiet uncommon ways we can be encouragers and cheerleaders to the regular everyday people we come in contact with. Those in our homes as well as those we meet at the grocery store, at the car dealership, on the street, in the coffee shop, at our workplaces, anywhere we encounter people - everywhere people are hungry for affirmation and kindness. Let's be the ones who do the reaching out.
A friend at church said the other day that her boss was not one to show kindness to the women who worked under her. So my friend said that she herself took on that role with her co-workers, complimenting them on a new outfit, asking about their weekend or noticing a change of mood and being an encourager. That kind of healthy interest is needed for a healthy workplace. My friend stepped up to be that person instead of complaining about her boss's lack of interest. I love this! Let's be the one we want others to be to us! (What a mouthful!)
I'm mostly preaching to myself here, so please, don't be offended. :)
If we are ever going to find change in our circumstances, we must start with our own thoughts and actions. Let's be people who live in warm comfortable "homes" full of invitations to relationship and friendship. Let's stand for kindness and be lovers of people because that is the only way for change to get started in our places and in our own personal "houses."
1 Peter 1:22 encourages us to "love one another deeply from the heart." This encouragement spurs us on! We are doing it for Christ who loves us and gave himself for us. The kind of love I am talking about is almost impossible using our own steam, our own self effort. But we have help from the One who loved us first. It is His love that we freely give away.
Let's have a great summer!