I remember being young, and certain people’s homes had a distinct fragrance – a fragrance I looked forward to enjoying every time we went over. I remembered people’s houses by that – it was one of the first things I thought of when my parents would say, “we’re going to _____’s house!”
I think what I always wondered was, “do they know how good their house smells? Do they know that it smells like…” lavender, or pizza, or honey, or ginger, or coffee…
Nowadays, I wonder that about people’s presence. Does John know that he stresses people out? Does Jane know that everybody lights up and gets energized by her? Does Brad know that when he walks into a room everybody’s caught up by his charisma and charm? Does Sarah know that she’s awkward? [all names hypothetical, nobody wonder.]
I know that I wonder about myself – how do I come off to people? Do I have too many pet peeves and stress people out? Do they think I’m thoughtful? Brash? Funny? Kind? Do I lift the burdens of others the way I feel so many lift mine? Do people really mind when I rant, or am I an energetic vampire?
This is what I’ve been thinking about lately – you reap what you sow. That’s what Galatians tells us – Do not be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Now, there’s context there, to be sure. But the saying holds true even outside of it, and I think a lot of people accept it as conventional wisdom – you get what’s coming to you.
Sowing tense relations, stress, annoyance, impatience, complaints: all of that brings itself back full-circle to you. People don’t like being around someone who doesn’t like being around people. People are stressed by people who are stressed. People complain about people who complain (not to mention, I’ve found, people feel invited to complain by people who complain.) People are annoyed by people who are annoyed.
But joy – joy’s another thing. I guess I’m naive enough to believe that when you delight in someone, they tend to delight in you. When you find the good in others, they like to find the good in you. When you give of yourself to others, they tend to give in return.
It’s no guarantee, but the majority of the time, that’s how it goes.
Goodness seems to beget goodness, and grace begets grace, and love begets love.
In life, in relationships, in work, it all holds true – you reap what you sow.
When your attitude towards your job is that it inconveniences you, it’s never going to stop inconveniencing you. You’ve already decided that it’s going to be a burden, so it’s going to be a burden. It’s kind of like using something (say, your cell phone) as a paperweight – it’s not a paperweight, but it’ll act like one if you want it to. All you have to do it put it on a piece of paper and it’ll hold it down. But objectively, it’s not a paperweight. But once you remove it, you no longer expect it to be a paperweight, because that’s not the function you’ve given it.
Our attitudes towards friendships go a long way. If you decide that a friendship is supremely important to you, then nothing they do – political disagreements, cancelled get-togethers, misspoken sentiment – can break that bond of friendship. A bit like God, the strength of the bond of friendship lies in the friends – they choose how easily it’s broken. That’s why marriage is such a powerful sacrament: two people decide that they’re going to do life together through thick or thin, no matter what. And married people fight, they change, they move together, have kids together, experience life together, and even through all of the things that are externally different by the end of it all, the thing that got them through is the thing that never changed – commitment.
Let me cut to the quick a little bit with my intentions behind this post. I’m not too old or proud to admit that I still find myself thinking, “I want to be like [so-and-so.]” I find myself thinking about how I want their perspective on life, or their grace, or ability to relate to people; and in thinking about all of this, I’ve realized that the choice is entirely in my own hands.
I can be more God-conscious than I am. The choice is up to me – I can either wake up in the morning, check Facebook and email, begin my chain of stressing about work, my dog, and my busy schedule; or I can wake up and start by praying. Believe me – I know how very high-school-student-ministry that sounds, but it’s true. And it doesn’t even work 100% of the time. News flash: I have read my bible in the morning and had a bad day. Coming at you live from Lexington, KY, this is Jeff Poling reporting. All the same, it is better to acknowledge the presence of God than to not – even if it’s not something you choose to use or tap into, you at least are forced to make a choice about it.
I can be more organized than I am. The fact that I choose to sit down, eat food, and watch tv, leaving my kitchen a mess instead of cleaning immediately, is my choice entirely.
I can be more efficient than I am – I find myself having many unfinished tasks at work, which I simply leave because I’d rather just go home than finish up, and I make my own life so much harder later on. My choice.
I can be more joyful than I am. I can choose to treat people with respect and dignity instead of as burdens or inconveniences.
As is the case in a lot of these entries, I hope you find yourself challenged and thinking, and rest assured that I am – I feel heavier after writing than I do before I embarked on this. Introspection is a heavy burden – but perhaps it is weight-lifting for the soul.