Prescription for Your Comfort Zone

Have you heard that little voice, or felt that little tug, leading you a different way? Sometimes it makes you curious, and sometimes it points you down a road on which you really don’t want to travel. Often, we resist change. Things are fine just as they are – right? Don’t rock the boat.

However, it is only by rocking the boat that we actually grow. Learning something new may make us more efficient. It may open our eyes and minds to new perspectives.

Sometimes it isn’t even about us! Sometimes the way we change affects others. Just as our actions have consequences for us, so too can our actions make a difference to somebody else.

Conversely, the choices and actions that others choose can impact us. How often have you said to yourself that “I don’t want to be like that!”  Alternatively, we seek to emulate persons we admire. When we recognize the actions or beliefs of someone else, and when we allow them to influence our behavior, we not only change ourselves, we change those around us.  Others may react positively or negatively, but they react.

Do not ever think that what you say or do is not important. What you say or do matters, just as you matter. Are you getting tired of calm, possibly stagnant, waters? Rock the boat a little, try something new… and see how you can make a difference!

A Time for Change

I am not a fan of Michigan’s correctional system. MDOC’s motto of “Expecting Excellence Every Day” all too often makes a mockery of those words. If fairness and decency and compassion are among the standards intended behind that motto, those behaviors are, unfortunately, often not the ones exhibited. Sadly, inequality, prejudice, greed, and hatred are among the attitudes we do see in today’s world – not only behind prison walls.

This past week’s tragic shooting of 20 elementary school children causes us to wonder at the ever-increasing violence in today’s society. The political scene seems to have become more a game of “chicken,” than a vehicle for common good. Respect and cooperation seem to have become things of the past.

So, how can we find something positive to guide us, to refresh us? WHERE IS THE GOOD?

The good is found within each and every one of us. The guard who doesn’t join in with others guards who are making fun of a mentally challenged prisoner…the individual who decides to patiently listen to a person who talks incessantly…the worker who goes just a little bit beyond what is expected of him – goodness begins within US! Simply being exposed to evil doesn’t make us bad. In fact, being exposed to evil can allow us to see positive alternatives.

Most of us do not want to be part of the evil that surrounds us. The time is ripe for change, for making a positive difference now, no matter who or where you are. I would like to challenge you to adopt the MDOC’s motto for yourself. It is not a bad motto. Go one step beyond what is expected of you, each and every day. Pay it forward. You will, by your efforts, be making the world just a little bit better place, and you yourself will be uplifted to be part of the winds of change.

Being Still

Be still. “Be still and know that I am God.” (Ps. 46:10)

How difficult it is to be quiet. Today, we are surrounded by sounds. Outside, we hear voices and dogs barking, traffic moving, and car doors slamming.

Inside, I often have music playing, or the radio or television are turned on. On the days that all is silent, I often feel uncomfortable…but why?

Today we are so used to processing incoming information, that acknowledging our thoughts and feelings is like going on an archeological dig. The immediacy of technology has caused us to lose touch with ourselves. Background noise has become comfortable. There is too much stimulation to be quiet and think. When I am forced to be quiet, or intentionally attempt to become quiet, I notice hangnails. I notice the wind blowing through fields. I search the trees for squirrels. I wonder what my neighbors are doing. It is hard to settle down to silence.

However, as I settle into this foreign mode, I begin to realize that I am blessed because I CAN hear. What a joy when, in the spring, birdsong greets me as I awake! Soon that gratitude expands to other things, and I begin to thank God for them. Then I tell Him what I am hoping for, and we spend a delightful time together.

Yes, when I allow myself to become still, prayers and praise come from out of the silence. Have you been still today?

Step Up!

What are YOU good at? Certainly, over the years, you have acquired knowledge that tells you you’re good at certain things. Perhaps you design things. Maybe you’re an excellent pipe fitter. Maybe you’re still struggling to figure it out. I would bet, though, that deep inside your heart, you really know what  you do well. Are you a good listener? Are you patient? Do you enjoy visiting with people? Sometimes it is the simplest thing that you do best. Chances are, it is also something you enjoy.

I am here to tell you to quit stressing over not being “as good as” someone else. You are every bit “as good as” that other person. The difference is that you are uniquely as good. God made us in His image, but He gave us each a unique identity. Where keeping up a conversation stresses some of us to no end, having a person to talk with may in fact be exactly what that patient in the local nursing home needs. A good listener may be just what that homebound grandmother needs when all of her family members are far away. Where physical skill is certainly significant for building a house, relating to a child with autism and caring for a child with cancer require very different aptitudes.

If you truly cannot figure out what it is that you are good at, try asking a few friends. I would bet they only echo the same traits you already thought about deep within your soul. Take heart! Have courage! You have been blessed with an ability that is uniquely you. It is time to step forward and do what you do best. Today is your day to begin!