When I went to college I majored in art. Absolutely loved art. I had been drawing since I could hold a crayon. I never took art classes in high school, so until I went to college I didn’t really have anyone to compare myself to and no one to critique me.
I had an instructor in college who definitely had his favorites. I was not one of them, yet I had to take 5 of his classes. I first encountered him my second year in college. He was a harsh critic on those who were not his favorites. If you didn’t paint in the style he preferred then you were in trouble… The culmination of his remarks about my paintings and drawings left me feeling inadequate, like my work wasn’t good enough, like I wasn’t good enough, like I would never have any type of success in the art field. From then on, I have struggled with how I view my creativity. I still judge myself rather harshly most of the time, feeling like it’s not good enough or that no one would want it. My ex-husband added to this stress by telling me we couldn’t hang my prints or paintings in our home because they “didn’t go with” the décor. This instructor has no idea of the impact he has had on this area of my life, and he never will.
My Mamaw and Papaw have had the biggest impact on my life when it comes to marriage, but they died before I ever realized how they affected me. I think many times we impact others without even realizing we’re doing it. We impact others by our attitudes at work, our actions at school, the way we treat others (including strangers), the things we do when we think no one is watching, etc. Someone may see you do something as simple as picking a piece of trash off the floor that didn’t belong to you & throwing it away.
How many times have you heard someone say, “I don’t go to church because someone once made fun of me when I went.”? Or the opposite, “I started going to church because someone invited me and I felt welcome there.”?
I have another story… There was a guy I went to college with who reconnected with me on Facebook last year. We hadn’t seen each other or spoken to each other in 8 years. As we started talking he told me how he had a crush on me all through college but never asked me out because of a letter that I had written to the editor of our school paper my senior year. In the letter he said I stated my faith in God, and he, being an atheist, knew he probably didn’t have a chance with me. He knew I was a Christian.
One of the biggest insults I’ve ever heard was from a different guy I met in college, years later telling me “I didn’t know you were a Christian”. Ouch, right? I was a closet Christian for most of my college years. I went to the parties – didn’t drink, just went to keep my roommate from bringing home strange guys while she was drunk. However, I also didn’t dress “Christian” and I didn’t act it either. I was a bit of a flirt. But when no one was looking, I’d read my Bible and be “Christian”.
I want to share some verses with you…
Proverbs 18:21 “The tongue has the power of life and death…” You’ve seen that to be true, right?
Colossians 4:5-6 “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
-Are you making the most of EVERY opportunity? The opportunities to talk with people at the grocery store, at school, at work, at the park, wherever? I’m guilty here too. I sometimes ignore opportunities or don’t fully embrace them.
-Are your conversations (not just the ones at church) full of grace, seasoned with salt? Salt – the stuff that brings flavor. Jesus says YOU are the salt of the earth, but if the salt isn’t achieving its purpose, it’s no good for anything anymore (Matthew 5:13).
Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Right words at the wrong time and words left unsaid can sometimes be just as hurtful as the wrong words. We need to be discerning as to when and if to speak. Wholesome words build up and provide grace to the recipient.
This next one is a long one. Colossians 3:1-10 “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity. lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived, But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” As a Christian, you are a new creation in Christ! There’s no excuse to be living in your former ways or living as a clone of this world.
After talking about the faith of Abraham, Moses, Rahab, and others, the writer of Hebrews writes, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” -Hebrews 13:7
James 3:13 “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”
1 Timothy 4:12 “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” One of my favorites… Don’t you dare underestimate the affect you can have on others. As a Christian, you have the power within you to inspire, envision possibilities, change the future, make a difference… If you set an authentic, consistent example to your friends, family, peers, and others as a solid Christian, there’s no telling what can be done through you.
Hold the door open for a stranger. Talk to the kid who keeps to himself. Befriend the teacher that others make fun of. Stop looking at your phone and smile at the cashier. You CAN make a difference in someone’s life.
It took me awhile to realize that I can make a difference. Yesterday I went with a group from my church to West Liberty, Kentucky to deliver supplies and talk with people. Here are a few photos…