How many of you grew up hearing your parents say, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?” Or you’ve heard yourself say this to your own children. It is the Golden Rule, after all. We want people to treat us kindly, and so it’s an easy admonition.
But, how many of us truly treat others the way we want to be treated? I’m reminded to the guy who, not too long ago, got impatient with my “speed limit” driving and roared around me in his truck showing only one of his five fingers, shouting something through his closed window. His face was red, that much I could tell. He was so angry. But why? I’m wondering, how would he have felt if I had done that to him? Of course, I wouldn’t, but do you think he gets up in the morning and thinks, “I’d really love it if someone spewed hatred at me while sticking up their middle finger for no good reason. That’d be fun.”
Or how about the person that makes fun of someone else’s appearance? Would they wanted to be treated the same way? You’d say, well these people just don’t know Jesus. They wouldn’t behave this way if they were Christians. Would it shock you to know the guy in the truck had a cross hanging from his rearview mirror? The irony of it all. But here’s the deal. I’ve done the same. No, not really the same. I don’t run around yelling at people or saying degrading things to people. My hostility is not seen. It’s on the inside.
Sometimes, I can feel impatience rising up within me. It’s not usually seen or known by others around me, but it’s there. Burning in me. It saps my joy. It takes all of my peace and trades it for strife and upset. But honestly, though I think I’m better at it handling it now, sometimes my impatience is seen and felt by others. Besides being unkind and unloving, I wonder what kind of message I’m sending to the object of my impatience? An unspoken message, but one that’s loud and clear, for sure.
I think about this in light of the recent shooting at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. I think about this every time there is a senseless act that leaves behind carnage and loss and pain. Do you ever ask yourself why people do what they do? A phrase that’s often said: “hurt people hurt people.”
As I was reading my Bible this morning, I was in Galatians 6. Verse 1 says, ”Brothers, if anyone is caught in anay transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. But keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted.” Keep watch on yourself. Which literally means to examine yourself, because you’re liable to fall into the very same sin. Now, you might say, “I would never go into a school building and shoot people.” No, probably not. But what about all that led up to the shooter’s actions - the past experiences, the pain, the personal problems. What about all the things that lead up to this hurting person that made them hurt other people? Let me be quick to say that I’m not defending this person’s actions. Not at all. But what if there was someone else who was hurting that contributed to this person’s hurt. Do you see the ripple effect?
What about words? Proverbs 18:21 says life and death are in the power of the tongue. Do you ever consider the damage that is done by the tongue? I’m in awe, really, at the power parents have over the lives of a child just by the words they speak. You can make or break a child by your words. And truly, that’s not just parents speaking words over them, but other people - family members, teachers, religious leaders, and even peers. Or maybe even strangers. In relation to brain science, we know that a message heard and repeated over and over again literally changes the brain patterns...permanently. It’s damage done. Do you remember, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”? That’s a flat out lie. Words do incredible damage. And that’s not just for a child. We know that neuroplasticity - the constant wiring and rewiring of the brain - happens up until your last breath.
What if we really did treat others the way we want to be treated? What if that was always our litmus test for how we acted or what we said? And why don’t we? Maybe because of our natural, selfish nature that makes us have the propensity to think we’re always right and everyone else is…evil. It also makes us feel entitled. We think we can say something, regardless of who it really hurts, because we have a right to do so. And those around us ought to cater to those rights or we’re upset.
Rights. It reminds me that Jesus had true “rights” here on earth as deity, the God-man, but refused to act on those rights.
A mantra that I learned many years ago, so long ago that I can’t even remember the original source, says, “Give up your rights. Hold on to your peace.” I use that constantly. It’s a reminder to treat people kindly, to have patience, to do things with gentleness, and to exert my self-control. It’s a reminder to do unto others as I would have them do unto me.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 7: 12).
Hurt people hurt people. How can we determine to not be someone who hurts other people? Whether that be in a devastatingly public way or in a smaller-circle kind of way. We must be aware of ourselves. Examine yourself, again, as Galatians 6:1 says. Where are you (and I) wounded and not healed? Where are we hurt, that’s causing us to act in a manner that hurts other people? Start there. Start by changing the belief that the things that you believe are right and more important; that your convenience and time and opinion are more important. Start by seeing people as real people with feelings and emotions, with personal struggles and concerns, with wounds that can be healed by a positive message of love and kindness and compassion. Start by being a different kind of ripple in the pond of life. Start by treating others the way you’d like to be treated. I’m wondering what kind of world we’d be living in if this was truly our motive for being. What if we could be healed people who heal people?
Friends, this subject matter is hard and heavy, but oh so necessary. And this is why I am so dedicated to what I’m doing as a Life Coach and the difference I’m making in the world. Unwiring to rewire the brain is what I do. If you’d like some help exploring this for yourself, I’d love to be your Life Coach.
I’ve put a link in the show notes for a free 30-minute call just so we can see if we’re a good fit to work together and show you how Life Coaching would work for you.
Also, don’t forget to get the free, downloadable guide that complements this episode. It has a few prompt questions that will help you personally work through some of the things I’ve talked about today. It’s kind of like a little Life Coaching at home.
Now, go out and change the world, friends. See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.
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