“Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:31
There’s a special feeling that comes when someone treats you in an incredibly kind way. This past week I was able to attend a talent show where my friend was going to be singing. Normally, I wouldn’t be able to get in since it was for the Disney College Program people, but my friend put me as a VIP. That’s not a normal thing I get very often, so when I was able to get in, get a lanyard and sit in the front row, my whole attitude felt very positive. I got to gush over my friend, Shanden, and his incredible voice and encourage him. After, I started thinking, I began to think about what Jesus said when he talked about how to treat others. The “golden rule” is well known, but not always followed. When we look at the life of Jesus, we see a man who chose to treat others like VIPs, treating others with love and encouragement. We are called to follow the example that Jesus set, so that means, we need to start treating others like the very important people they are.
I need affirmation. That’s something I’ve learned in the past couple of years. Knowing our worth is one of the hardest things. We know, in our minds, that God made us and that means we are loved deeply by him, but at the same time, we battle thoughts in our head that say otherwise. Maybe it’s due to the comparison in our lives, seeing the best that others post can cause us to look at our own lives and wonder if this is really it. We crave this need, so we start to look elsewhere. Maybe it manifests in a toxic relationship to your social media presence. Maybe it’s the value a significant other gives to you. We all need affirmation. We want to be known, loved, admired. So why do we feel unworthy, unloved, completely de-valued?
The truth is that our spirits have been stolen, killed, and destroyed.
Yet, there is hope.
It’s here! Christmas time is among us (Though for many of you it began as soon as your Jack-o-lantern went out). I really love this season, not simply for all the cold air and the smell of cinnamon that seemingly is everywhere (how does that even happen?). I love it because it’s a season of caring, at least for me it always has been. Christmas has never been a specific day for me. My family was in Wisconsin so we would celebrate several Christmas days, but what I learned is that Christmas is so much more than the day (or about a creepy man who reverse robs you), it was about giving back. Reaching out and being intentional with others. I really love giving gifts, not big expensive and crazy things, simply things that are meaningful. Last year though, my mom executed this perfectly. She gave my dad, sister, my brother-in-law, Danielle, and myself gifts that really spoke to me. They weren’t insane or wild, simply intentional gifts that poured into us. That got me thinking about this Christmas season, and what I want to do this month. I want to talk about intentionality. I want to talk about being purposeful with the people around us, because we are called to love our neighbors.
“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
1 Corinthians 12:24-26
I’ve been thinking a lot about people recently. Not in a sense of, oh yeah there are other people around me, but more of the fact that there are so many different people all around me. We live in a world where we can have many hobbies, come from different walks of life, and lived through all kinds of events. We are different people that crave community. No one likes to be alone, and no one likes to feel pushed away, yet recently in the climate of our culture we grow secluded and push others based on stupid differences. I have been wanting to write about misfits in community since I did the Misfit series a couple months back, but I couldn’t quite figure out how to say it. Then this past week, a couple of events sparked the words and God spoke to me about some things that are vital in the upcoming season for all of us.
One of the hardest things I find in life is that when we feel like an outsider, we feel like that makes us unimportant. For a majority of my life I have thought like this, that because I wasn’t like the average dude, I was somehow less important. I think for many of us this becomes the way we view our lives. We see the lives others are living and ask ourselves why can’t we have that kind of story, why everything for everyone else seems to be so easy. We look at our lives and the choices we’ve made and wonder if we can ever make a difference, if our stories will ever leave a mark on the world around us. So many of us have made mistakes, don’t fit into the norms of the people around us, and we can feel like we are unimportant to creating an impact. I’m here to say that this is so not true, the enemy wants to twist your mind and make you believe that you aren’t important. You are important. Your life has value. The thing we must always remember is that God made you in his image, meaning that he is calling you to something greater. While you may be feeling like a misfit, this means that you are different and that you are pivotal to the greater picture.
Culture is all around us. We are exposed to each of our cultures on a daily basis; the messages and ideas are thrown at us constantly, and we don’t even pick up on all of it. It’s so ingrained in each of us that these messages don’t even phase us anymore, things become normal. In our normalcy we become numb. I bring up this idea of culture because I study culture at my university. I am a communication studies major (not communications, you’d lose a hand if you said that to any of the professors), and in this field I am able to look at how messages are communicated to each other, and culture comes from this communication. A culture is a way of life of a group of people–the behaviors, beliefs, values, and symbols that they accept, generally without thinking about them, and that are passed along by communication. Culture influences us, culture changes the way we think and culture has us accept things that they are normal, but we are weird. When you become weird, you can never go back to being normal.