Live Better & Be Better Challenge
Eleanor Roosevelt once said "Do something every day that scares you." Believe it or not, just creating this blog and putting out into the world is something I consider scary. What if no one reads it? What if the impact I am hoping to provide falls flat? Yet I do it. Why? Because as scary as it may be, I want to push myself to be better today than I was yesterday, and by sharing thoughts, ideas, techniques or simple encouragement allows me to learn more to share with you. It's a win-win!
Have you ever wondered if there was a game plan, or a weekly recipe, or a "How-To" for finding a way to "do something scary" that betters you? If you answered yes, well then, TODAY IS YOUR LUCKY DAY! I am going to challenge you for the next 7 days to live outside your comfort zone and to do something each day that WILL make you better than who you were the day before! Who's with me?
Before I get started though, I have to admit to you that I DID NOT CREATE THIS seven-day challenge. I am "BORROWING" this idea from Pastor Bill and last week's sermon. And okay, to continue being completely honest, Pastor Bill didn't really create the challenge either. He, too, "borrowed" it. If you open your bible to Colossians 3:12-14, you can "borrow" the idea of the seven day challenge, too! (or continue reading!!!)
"Therefore, God's chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love- the perfect bond of unity." (HCSB)
You see there? The Apostle Paul gave us the original game plan, or, recipe to follow. Let me break it down for you, giving you a challenge to pursue EACH DAY for SEVEN DAYS.
I ask that you find a notebook, or some paper, or even use your SmartPhone or computer to write down the theme for each day, and what you did. Try to do something different. Try to go outside of your normal comfort zone. Write it all down. At the end of each day, answer this question, "How do I feel and what did I learn from today?" We will use that as our topic to discuss next week!
Day One: Compassion:
Let us start with remembering there is a difference between COMPASSION and EMPATHY. I say this because I often forget that. Empathy is understanding the emotional state of another person, while compassion adds the element of the desire to elevate suffering of the other person. Compassion is wanting to genuinely HELP another person. I always say I am the type of person that jumps in on the chance to help others. But am I really? What about you? So, for today, look for a way you can truly help someone else, no matter how small.
Are you interested in learning how compassionate you are to your spouse or partner? Take this quick quiz to find out (but make sure to come back to read the rest of the challenge!)
to read it, if you haven't yet! Kindness is a characteristic that shows friendliness, generosity, and consideration to others. I tell my own two sons OFTEN that Kindness is Cool. Because it really really is. Just the act of smiling at someone and saying "hello" shows great kindness. Let that smile light up your whole face and let it spread to someone else! Also, use the word THANK-YOU, and mean it! What else can you do today that shows kindness?
Okay, this can be a tough one for me sometimes. Being humble. I would love to tell you I am a very humble person, but, humility means letting go of your pride. You can ask my husband, there are times that I am too proud to say I am wrong, and I will hold onto that with every bit of stubbornness, to the point of sacrificing a nice evening and creating hostility. Becoming humble DOES NOT mean being weak. If fact, one must be incredibly strong to lay aside their feelings of "Do you know who I am? I am so much better!!!" Humility is giving yourself to God and using His strength. Humility is admitting when you are wrong, or giving credit to others, or even asking for help or advice! So today, how can YOU show humility?
Day Four: Gentleness
When I think of gentleness, I think back to my childhood, living on a small farm. My mother comes to mind and the story of Lucy the Lamb. My dad had brought home a pregnant Ewe (female sheep!) from the sale barn, and soon she game birth to twin lambs, a boy and a girl we named Lucky and Lucy. The ewe must have died during or shortly after birthing the lambs, because my mom ended up bringing both lambs into our house, warming them next to the wood stove, and feeding them with a turkey baster. Lucky ended up not being so lucky...he passed away not too long after. I remember my mom crying and holding the little lamb that she was unable to save. She held him so gently, still talking sweetly to him. She continued to give love to Lucy, who began to thrive and soon she was living in one of the dog kennels we had (my mom also bred and raised German Shepard dogs.) Lucy was a happy lamb (who learned to bark because I'm pretty sure she didn't realize she was a sheep!) and because of my mom's gentle spirit, was able to grow, become strong, and live. How can you show gentleness to others today that allows someone else to grow, become strong, and live?
Speaking of gentleness and lambs, don't we often refer to Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God? HE took away the sins of the world. Ponder that for a moment.
Day Five: Patience
"Patience is a virtue" is coined by author William Langford in the 1300's. He had written in a poem how difficult having patience is. The bible also talks about the difficulty of having patience. And now, in the 21st century we are living in, patience is even MORE difficult, as anything we want or need is at the quick touch of a screen! We rarely have to wait for anything! When at Wal-Mart, I know we have ALL complained of standing in lines and WAITING! But God wants us to learn to be patient. To understand HIS perfect timing. To trust in HIS plan. And that takes practice, learning to change our perspective and slow down, knowing that there is goodness in the wait. As a mom, I find myself taking deep breaths, WAITING, when I am trying very hard to not lose patience with two boys intent of fighting with one another then seeing who can get to me first to tattle! "Patience you must have, young Skywalker." Even wise old Yoda was teaching patience in Star Wars! How are you showing patience today?
Day Six: Forgiveness
Remember I said above that humility was a tough one for me? Well, even tougher than that is forgiveness. Forgiveness is incredibly difficult. For both parties- it is HARD to apologize (and I mean authentically and from the heart) and it is HARD to forgive (and then let it go and move on!) There is a person in my life that has hurt me, and I have hurt that person. We both need to authentically apologize and then with a grateful heart, forgive. I know this needs to happen, but what stops me? Fear. Feelings of anger. Fear. Yeah, it's scary and definitely out of my comfort zone. Can I do this on the 6th day of this challenge??? Oh boy...I don't know. Who do you need to seek forgiveness from or who do you need to forgive?
Day Seven: Love One Another
Jesus left us with the most important commandment, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:34) Jesus loved us so much, he died on Calvary's Cross to wipe away our sins, becoming like our sacrificial lamb.(hello! see how day four just came back???)
Love covers all things. Love IS the perfect bond of unity. Show grace to others. Let go of your selfishness. Do your very best to accept, care for, and truly love others! What did you do today to show love towards others?
I pray that you decide to take this Seven Day Challenge. YOU CAN DO IT! I can't wait to hear how you did with this challenge. Please provide your thoughts and feedback! Next week I will be discussing this further!