Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots.
~ Victor Hugo
There is much in life that bewilders me. Things I either do not agree with – or am simply at a loss to understand. Many times I have been tempted to be in a theological debate with others who do not believe the same as I. But have discovered that it is when I close my mouth – open my heart and really listen, that I really learn something.
Simple values, principles and character issues cannot be debated. But much of life sits in a “gray” area – which is neither right or wrong. Some things are more profitable and beneficial to us as a whole or individually – but if neglected or not deemed important does not affect our salvation. And just because someone has a louder opinion in person or online does not make them more right than you or me.
And if you want to get really spiritual about some issues that we quibble about – some are not even spelled out in scripture *gasp* – therefore they are open to personal and yes *groan* our own brand of church affiliation and denomination – especially those in which we were raised as children.
I believe that my life and not just my words should lead. I can give a flowery argument for politics, religious beliefs, sinful ‘dos and don’ts’ and shout to you about “all we need is love” and yet continue to live a negative, frustrated, prejudice and narrow lifestyle, showing no tolerance for my lesbian neighbors. I can abhor divorce and even be quick to judge you if you have had an emotional or physical affair – and then be so unguarded and puffed up with self-righteous pride that I am not even aware that it is happening to me.
And because God is the only one that can really look into me and see my heart – it is Him that I want to please most. What does it matter if I say things and try to convince everyone how spiritual and wonderful I am – if I’m harboring un-forgiveness, pride, arrogance and secret sinful thoughts? I cannot pretend with God.
People will not remember what I say (who can blame them?) but hopefully they will remember me for the life that I live. Someone who has survived and overcome even when at times it would have been easy to throw in the towel. Someone who in spite of differences – has chosen to stay in a long term marriage, learning that marriage is a series of being willing to change, learn and grow. Who had a career change more than 15 years ago because I felt God was leading me into teaching instead of a potentially lucrative sales career. Who tries not to judge – but tries to listen, accept and validate everyone I meet. Who has been dealt some interesting blows in my personal life, ministry and even survived betrayal from a good friend. But instead of having a pity-party and living with the pain and humiliation of certain events – I got back up and decided to be an encourager and a giver, knowing what it feels like to have things taken. You see it’s not the events in life that define us – it’s the life we lead in spite of those events.
And so as my seasons keep turning and spinning – I plan to hold true to my roots and principles but change my opinions and keep an open mind and heart. And most of all…
Lead with my life.
When was the last time you were tempted to argue with someone and chose instead to let your life be proof enough of what you believe?
Dear Lord – help all I come in contact with today to learn how valuable, unique and influential they are. Help them see that simply by living their life for others and giving themselves away is the key to happiness. Help them to trust you to show them how to become all they were created to be. Help them to lead with their life. Amen