Monday, November 16, 2009

Pay Attention

I've spent a lot of time thinking and learning about love over the past couple of years. I've studied what the Bible has to say about it, and I've tried to look for the lessons that the Holy Spirit is teaching me each day. I think that all the time I've spent actively thinking about love has made a huge difference in my life. Because I've been thinking so much about things like patience and kindness and humility, ways to apply them to my life often just pop into my head as situations arise. Writing this daily blog is part of my attempt to keep thinking about love so that these things stay at the forefront of my mind where they are easily accessible as I go through my day and make decisions. I also hope, however, that reading this blog will help all of you readers keep thinking about love as well.

Deliberately thinking about love has trained me to have different responses to some situations in life. Here are a few ways that my life has recently been shaped by my new awareness of love:
  • I was trying to get home after an appointment last week in time to watch a TV show. I'd gotten lost and was later than I expected to be. I was hurrying and trying to make it home on time, but I realized that I was driving aggressively when I found myself yelling at a driver who was going under the speed limit. "It's not worth it," I said to myself. "It's more important for me to be a safe and courteous driver than to satisfy some scheduling whim." So I slowed down and took my time going home, and I gave up on getting home at a specific time.
  • A few days ago, I got irritated with someone for failing to meet an expectation I had. Just as I was starting to get really annoyed, however, I remembered how much I love that person, and the irritation just evaporated. I realized that this problem really wasn't a big deal. 
  • I was trying to find a parking spot behind the building where I work. I found a really excellent one right by the door, but I needed to turn around at the top of the lot in order to get it. As I was turning around, another car appeared from the other direction. He was waiting to see if I was going to take the spot, but I decided to wave him around and let him have it.
  • When I go walking on the sidewalk, I try to make a conscious effort to look up and smile at the people I pass. I didn't always pay as much attention to them before. Whenever I go through a door I try to notice whether someone else is behind me so I can hold the door for that person. 
  • Someone at work approached me with an issue that really was not my problem. I felt the urge to blow that person off, but then I thought, if I can help, shouldn't I? It doesn't really hurt me to go out of my way to help with something that isn't technically my responsibility. 
  • I try really hard not to get snippy with my husband, but when I do, these days I usually notice and I almost always apologize very soon afterward. Then I make sure to tell him how much I love and appreciate him so that he realizes my behavior was just an isolated incident and not a sign that I'm unhappy in our relationship. Since I've been paying more attention to how I behave towards him, our bond has felt closer and more comfortable than ever.
I think that behaving in a loving fashion is a lot easier when we pay attention. We all know that we're supposed to be nice to people, and we know we're supposed to be patient, kind, humble, selfless, etc., but we don't always recognize the ways that we can apply those things in our everyday lives. I think we often get caught up on the big lessons (don't kill people) and sometimes don't notice the little things (don't yell at people). Thinking about love seriously allows me to realize the implications of my actions. I never used to give much thought to the implications of giving up a parking space, dealing with a problem that isn't my responsibility, or apologizing every time I'm a little rude. Now I try to pay attention to these types of everyday things as much as possible. I still make a lot of mistakes, of course, but I think I'm more aware now of the things that I'm doing, both good and bad, than I was before I started to actively think about love and how I incorporate it in my life.

A friend recently asked me what advice I would give to new Christians about how to make use of the power of love in their lives. This is how I answered:
Think about the kind of person you want to be. Think about it all the time. Pray about it. See what Scripture can teach you about it. The more you think about it, the more your actions will conform to your thoughts. At least, that's been my experience so far (not that I'm an expert, of course). I would add that thinking about things honestly doesn't mean beating yourself up for your mistakes. I have to be able to admit when I did something that wasn't ideal, but then I should use that knowledge to figure out how to move forward, not to punish myself. I'm frequently very aware of my shortcomings, but as long as I don't despair because of them that can be a big blessing. When I recognize them, my mistakes help me learn and grow.

I try to deliberately think about love every day, and I believe that those efforts are changing my life. I encourage you to give it a try yourself.

No comments:

Christian Love Lessons - Free Blogger Templates - by Templates para novo blogger