When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
I see dark circles under my eyes, I see the scars of life, I see grey hairs. Some days that's all I see and those are the days it's hardest to function. I can't seem to get my hair just right and despite having a closet overflowing with clothes, I have nothing to wear. It's on those days when I stare at the wrong things in the mirror, that I lose all perspective. I'm ungrateful for those grey hairs and scars that serve as reminders of a long life well lived. I miss the beauty in the mirror looking right back at me. Not the physical beauty, but the beauty behind my eyes and in my heart, that reflects how much God has loved me, protected me and taught me.
Instead of focusing on my physical reflection, I want to focus on reflecting grace. Let's go deeper together. Grab a pen, download the free workbook and continue reading below. Let's look beyond what we see in the mirror.
On most days I start out with a positive attitude. Sometimes it lasts all day and sometimes it's shifted to negativity by the time I finish my morning coffee. What I've found helps is when you identify you're not in a positive mindset, the best thing to do is to stop and pray. No matter what you're in the middle of, stop and ask God to take away the negative cloud that's causing your ungratefulness, sadness, anger or bitterness. Humble yourself and confess any sin that may have caused this shift in attitude. Don't just accept that because you've gone off course, you can't right the ship and get back to a place of contentment and peace.
I believe that I reflect God's love and grace in most of my interactions with others, but in those moments when I don't, I feel really convicted. I cringe when I think of how I've reacted to people in certain situations. How I've been rude, short, unkind or selfish. How instead of showing grace, I showed ugliness. How my frustration turned to anger and I stopped listening to what the other person was trying to say. It's easy to reflect grace when things are going well and someone is showing grace to us. I want to reflect grace when others are rude to me. I want to reflect grace when others don't listen to me. I want to reflect grace even when I'm angry and want to blow up at someone. I want to reflect grace to family, friends, and strangers. It will require me to humble myself, seek God's wisdom and see others through the lens of God's grace, showing unmerited favor no matter what the situation.
I used to work in an office where a lot of people relied on me. Before I reached my desk in the morning, there would be people with questions on how to handle this situation or solve that problem. All my lunches were meetings and any break I took was only to give counsel to a coworker who was seeking advice. I vividly remember many days when it would take me all day to write one short email because I'd been interrupted non-stop. I loved my job and the people I worked with, but it was frustrating! I became resentful that I had to stay late every night to do my work because I was "helping everyone else do their job".
Over time, my attitude and interactions became negative. Without meaning to, my choice of words and body language started to communicate to these people who I cared about, that I just didn't have time for them. That whatever they needed wasn't as important as what I needed to get done. That selfishness with my time then spilled over into my personal life. To make sure I still got my work done, I was trying to catch up after I got home, neglecting time with my husband.
Now I'm not saying that you shouldn't make sure you get your work done or that there aren't some people who will suck up your time asking for help on things that they need to learn how to do for themselves. I am saying that there are only so many hours in the day. So if you find yourself in a similar situation at work, Church or even at home, where you're becoming resentful, you might want to sit down with someone who can help you prioritize your time. Looking back on it now, I should have talked to my boss sooner and let him know that the situation was affecting my home life and something needed to change. I learned a lot from that period in my life and what's funny is that the biggest regret I have isn't the work that didn't get done, but opportunities to show grace that I treated as annoyances. What a difference it might have made if I had taken a deep breath with every knock at my office door and greeted each person with a smile. What a difference it might have made if I had shown them grace and reflected God's love even when they were driving me crazy.
I'm not putting pressure on you to be perfect because that's not realistic. But I do want to encourage you to examine how you "show up" in your life.
Do you reflect God's grace in your attitude, your interactions and how you manage your time?
Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed. On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord. Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.