What if we all wore name tags with our biggest fears? Insecurities? Secrets?
What if we embraced others without bias, eye-rolling, and judgment?
What if we imagined, entering a conversation, that the person we are talking to could be having the absolute worst day of their life?
I recently came across this verse and it spoke volumes to my heart:
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-10 NLT
The word genuine is defined by Webster as, “actually having the reputed or apparent qualities or character; sincerely and honestly felt or experienced.”
I’ve really been trying to break into the tiny, untouched crevices of my heart.
Who am I and how do I treat others?
Why do I often fall victim to layers of insecurity?
Why do I look for the approval of those who mean the most to me?
In 2018, our Pastor covered a sermon series called “Chasing Tumbleweeds” and he discussed why we chase the opinion and approval of others and who we should aim to chase. I need to focus my eyes on God for guidance and direction. I should look to God for the ultimate example of how to love others and be a more genuine person. Genuine, SINCERE, compassionate toward others and their situations and circumstances.
We all struggle and battle the amplified desire to be accepted and put on a pedestal. But we must cling to God during our trials AND during our celebrations. We need a healthy heart rather than a flailing, whaling, insecure, self-seeking heart.
Below are a few simple and subtle steps we can take to living a more authentic lifestyle so we can better learn (1.) What areas of our life we are lacking in, (2.) How to be different from the world (Romans 12:2) and be the unique, sincere, people-loving individuals God created us to be, (3.) How to better understand others so we can love them, share Jesus with them, and take the focus off ourselves.
1. Mean what you say and say what you mean.
If we want to earn the trust of others, we must be authentic people who stay true to our word. Don’t promise you are going to do something if you aren’t going to do it. We live in a world where words come out of our mouths faster than the brain can process it. We speak in anger, frustration, and to appease others. Sometimes we must stop, pause, and truly listen before we speak. The skill of listening is an art. Compassion must flow through our heart strings and impact every conversation and interaction. It is truly feeling for others. It is the fuel of our hearts. We can’t let words go in one ear and out the other. We shouldn’t be planning an angered response in the middle of someone’s sentence.
We must pause, listen, process information, and then respond.
The way we talk TO people has much to do with being a genuine, approachable person. Are we harsh? Do we actually care and empathize or are we just trying to look good?
Body language is also a form of conversation.
I know sometimes we ask, “How are you?” — but too often, we don’t wait for a response. I know in my counseling studies, thinking about the words we are saying and truly zoning in on the person we are talking to can mean so much.
Perhaps that person was contemplating suicide and just wants to be heard, supported, and reassured that their voice and life matters. Maybe we will be the vessel God uses in their life to reawaken their hope.
2. Don’t talk about people, talk TO people.
This one has really been on my heart lately. If we talked to people and tried to be there for them as much as we gossip and talk about them, can you imagine how different our world could be?
Too often, we judge people based on what we’ve heard about them rather than actually getting to know THEM.
It is my personal goal over the coming months to catch myself talking in negative ways. We often gossip without realizing we are gossiping. The negative chain of communication and interaction with others begins with how we talk to ourselves. Negative self-talk is the beginning of this dangerous road.
3. Start with you.
One of my favorite sayings has always been, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
Positive change begins with US and a heart, mind, and tongue fueled by Christ.
If we believe in lifting others up, then we should lift them up. We can’t just wait for people to encourage us and tell us how awesome we are.
If we want to end gossip, DON’T gossip. If we don’t want people to gossip about us, we should not gossip about them. Proverbs 15:14 (NLT) says, “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. The tongue of the wise makes knowledge appealing, but the mouth of a fool belches out foolishness. The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good. Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.”
If we want to genuinely care about other people, we should approach other people with an open heart. A heart overflowing with compassion.
If we want to love like Jesus; then we must love Jesus FIRST and let the Holy Spirit influence our mind, body, and soul.
Here’s to you, beautiful – as you continue in the journey of life – dealing with mean people and difficult situations while trying to figure out who you are and what your purpose is. May you realize the true depths of your heart, impact of your words, and may we work together to show a little Jesus in someone’s day.