As we begin this new day, the day after a contentious election, one fraught with much anxiety, anger, disappointment, and hope, we need to take a breath. As of this writing, we don’t know the outcome of the election. As of this writing, we are still alive and able to welcome a brand new day. A day filled with possibilities and hope. A day ready to be used however we choose.
I read a question recently that struck me as particularly important for each of us to address. “What do you plan to do today to bring love, or peace, or to better our world?” What a way to begin a new day. What a question to wrestle with. It strikes at our motivations and actions in a way that really should cause us to think as we plan our day.
For myself, if I can keep a question like that in the forefront of my mind, I approach what I do and say from a very thoughtful stance. Too often, I can let my baser emotions get the best of me. I get cut off in traffic, I simply want to yell at the other driver, JERK! Again with a driving illustration, I’m in heavy traffic, my impatience wants to dictate that I not allow anyone to cut in front of me. When confronted with a situation that puts me in a disadvantageous position, I want to rant and rave about how unfair or how I’m feeling wronged. I want to demand my rights, my position, my sense of what should be.
What would our day look like if we kept in mind the question posed? Would every interaction be different? When I’m shopping at the store, how might I express my love and desire for peace and harmony? Would it be in making way for a mother pushing an overloaded basket with two kids in tow? Maybe helping someone to reach something on the shelf? When I’m ordering a meal at a restaurant or fast-food establishment, how can I make the one serving me feel loved? How can what I say or do, make their day easier and more pleasant? When family or those we are in relationship with tend to get on our last good nerve, what is it we can say or do to make them feel loved?
When someone is being particularly obstinate, stubborn, infuriating, do we handle that by returning favor for favor? Or would love be the answer? We never know what motivates others to act and speak the way they do. We can’t comprehend what may be happening in that person’s life to cause their actions. We can’t even know if they are truly aware of how their actions and words are being received.
What we should be aware of is the motivation behind our speech, behind what we do. When we set out to treat each person with a loving touch, the world does somehow seem a little kinder and more peaceful. Maybe it is we see the brokenness of the people around us, and the need for healing. Maybe it is we see how hard some people’s lives really are, and we seek ways to smooth out some of the hard and rough places.
Jesus knew the world was far from perfect. Jesus knew changing the world was a daunting task. Jesus knew it couldn’t be achieved by law, edict, force, or pronouncement. What Jesus knew was, this world can only experience love and peace, one person at a time. When one person seeks to love and bring peace, that touches someone else’s life in a very distinct way.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve felt a lot of stress and anxiety. Some having to do with the contentious nature of the political contests taking place, and all the accompanying rhetoric and divisiveness. Some of my anxiety and stress are related to a more personal nature of dealing with my partner’s illness, hospital staff, and family dynamics. Guess what? The world doesn’t center on me. I’m not the only one going through some stuff right now. The world isn’t bound to stop because I might be having an incredibly difficult or terrible day.
When I think about all that every person has to go through, I tend to see opportunity to show kindness that would be welcomed by me. I tend to want to love as I would want to be loved. I begin to spread love and peace, and that in itself makes the world around me a better place to be.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,