Taking the higher road.

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Sometimes you have a choice to take the high road.

In my birthday post last week, I mentioned if I knew then what I know now that I’d “Forgive faster. Forgive even if you think the other person is wrong. Forgive even if the other person IS wrong. Trust me. Swallow your pride on this one.” Less than 24-hours later, I received a phone call that would make me prove it.

Seven years ago this week, my biological mother hung up on me. At that point, I hadn’t lived with her for 10 years and I had been trying my best to be a decent daughter and protect (my heart, my emotions) myself at the same time. Unfortunately, healthy boundaries are not my specialty.

After her usual verbal face slap, she hung up and I moved on.

Happily, I might add. I had been praying for years that I’d get some freedom from the guilt, shame and expectations that she continued to pile on my shoulders and I finally got it. I knew the silence would end at some point. I figured it would take some kind of crisis to have her call me, which is exactly what happened.

On my 30th birthday, I received the long dreaded phone call. Luckily for me, at the time, I had been out of the room so the call went to voicemail. An emotional landmine waiting for me on returning. The content of the message was brief and straight forward. After some birthday greetings, I was told I should call my grandmother who I had not talked to in that time, either.

I wish I could tell you my immediate reaction was full of forgiveness, love and grace.

It wasn’t.

Not even a little bit.

Spent some time talking to my parents about the phone call. Actually, they did most of the talking, since I didn’t have much more to say than “That pissed me off.” I was encouraged to pray about my response and consider taking the higher road in the matter. I didn’t like most of what they said, but because I know they love Jesus and they love me I figured I should at least consider their wisdom in the matter.

So, I prayed. Although, that sounds much more formal that anything I tend to do. My prayers very often start off like this, “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?!” After that, it’s followed by something awesome that happened. “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?! A parking spot in the very FRONT!! Awesome! Thanks!” Mostly, though, its followed with my displeasure of a recent event, like “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?! Only 3 lines open at Walmart the week before Christmas” or in this case “Are you kidding me, Jesus?!?! I need to forgive these people? These same people who hurt me time and time again?”

I’ve learned I don’t need to be long winded in my complaints. He gets the gist–I don’t like this.

But, He also knows my heart.

God knows that in the midst of this unexpected opening of old scars, that I’d want to be faithful to whatever it was He was asking of me. Somehow I feel compelled to at least TRY and give Him Lordship of my life. To at least TRY and obey His voice when I hear it. To at least attempt to forgive my enemies and not only forgive them but treat them better than they treated me.

So, I called my grandma.

I chose the higher road. Save the parade and hand clapping though. I’m not looking for that and don’t deserve it. All I did was make a step in the right direction. A very SMALL step. A step that tells Jesus, “I’m willing to do what you ask, even if it gets me hurt.” That’s a whole other blog post there, but its the place I had to get to in order to take the first step in this situation.

I know my life is an extreme example, but we are all faced with decisions everyday to take the higher road. Maybe its not giving the guy who cut you off the middle finger. Or not screaming at your kids when they do something you’ve told them NOT to for the millionth time today. It could be giving a smile to a frazzled looking woman in the toy section at Target.

You don’t need me to give you scenarios though. I think most of us recognize the moments day-to-day that could be opportunities to shine a little brighter. To give a little love, even when it hurts.

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If I knew then, what I know now…

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I turn 30 this week. I’d like to think that I’ve gotten wiser. Although some days that’s questionable.

Here’s some things I’d tell a younger version of myself, if I had the chance:

Don’t be so selfish. Give of your time, money, skills and love to others. Those “deserving” and those, not so deserving. Those you like, and those you don’t.

Don’t ever regret loving. Sure, you’re gonna walk away with a broken heart some of the time, but its worth it. It’s always worth it to love.

Set more boundaries. Boundaries aren’t selfish, even though I still struggle with this idea. Boundaries help healthy relationships grow and protect us from unhealthy ones.

Don’t date him. Or him. Or him. Or him. Mom was right.

Stop being so insecure. You’re awesome. Sure, you’re not a size 2. You still get pimples. And you can be extremely awkward in social settings. It’s ok!

You’re not going to remember– write it down. This includes the trivial (like things you need at the grocery store) to the sentimental (like funny things dad says). I can’t tell you how many times you’ll walk away from a sermon at church and think “Wow! That was good.” and then forget everything that was said. Or the amount of times you’ll go to the store, only to come home with the one thing you needed most (like TP), but failed to because it didn’t get put on the list. Or the amount of times grandpa said something witty and later on thought “What was that silly saying Grandpa told me?”

Take more risks. Fear held me back from doing things I should have tried–even if to say, “I’m never doing that again!”

Being perfect is unattainable….so stop trying. And when you realize you can’t do something perfectly don’t beat yourself up over it.

Forgive faster. Forgive even if you think the other person is wrong. Forgive even if the other person IS wrong. Trust me. Swallow your pride on this one.

Grandma was right–make new friends, but keep the old. Though you may not text, or write, or call as often as they are on my mind– know when you do it will be like there hasn’t been any time or miles between you.

Jesus isn’t as hard on you, as you are on yourself. He’s more loving, more understanding, less judgmental and just more awesome than you could ever grasp, but try to grasp it anyway. Every time you ask Him for more of Himself, He’ll do it.

What are some things you’d tell yourself if you knew then what you know now?

My 100% Rule

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I’ve come to the conclusion, a very wise conclusion I might add, that I can’t be 100% right about 100% of the things. Whatever those things may be.

Shocking, I know.

In my defense, I’ve publicly admitted to being wrong before.

With the increased use of social media, people seem to be more comfortable with sharing their opinions. I’m all for free speech and the freedom to share your 2 cents on things. I do that ALL the time. Exhibit A: this blog.

The problem comes when you think your opinion, my opinion, the Pope’s opinion, is the only correct opinion. Listen, I know the Pope is a man of God and even Time’s person of the year, but he’s fallible.

As are you.

Oh, right, and me too.

Whether it be the best sports team or my stance on a variety of theological issues– I’m not always right. This is hard for some Christians to admit because we are so concerned with getting it “right”. Admittedly, there are some issues I’ll stubbornly hold on to until my dying day, but I won’t damn you to hell if you don’t agree. That’s WAY out of my pay grade.

The thing that frustrates me the most about the “I’m right, you’re wrong” mentality is that it comes off super cocky. It tells the other person that you care more about being right than about having a listening, loving ear.

Listen, I’m not asking you to change your mind or your stance on issues. All I’m saying is take some advice from Kid President. Next time you disagree with a FB post, tweet or politician tell them: “I disagree with you but I still like you as a person who is a human being and I will treat you like that.”

Dear fellow Christians,

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Be nice.

That’s it. Be nice. Go along now…

Uhhhh, can we can a refund? We were hoping for something deeper and more meaningful.

Listen, I get it. It’s seems super simple, but I assure you it is ONE of the biggest things we are getting wrong as Christians. It’s like we’ve forgotten the concept that kind gestures and common courtesy go a long way.

Being kind may mean…

…not screaming at the person ahead of you in line for not moving fast enough when the cashier  calls them up to the register on Black Friday (AFTER you’ve been standing there for TWO HOURS).

…giving a stranger across the room a warm smile instead of the stink eye.

…being more concerned with loving someone with a different political view as you than demanding to be “right”.

Maybe this topic has been at the front of my mind because of the holidays. Everyone seems to be in a rush. Everyone is expecting to get the most for the least amount of money. Everyone is wading through expectations from family members . The days seems to dwindle and our to-do lists just keep getting longer.

About 9 years ago, around this time, I was in a store with a friend. She found this sweater she wanted to buy, but when we got to the register it rang up different than the sign had suggested. My friend didn’t seem bothered, but instead of keeping my mouth shut I made a fuss and gave the lady some attitude all the while feeling justified because the “customer is ALWAYS right”. Right?!

Walking to the car, I’ll never forget the sadness in my friend’s eyes. “Was it really worth the $5?” she asked. I tried explaining that we were right and they shouldn’t have had the wrong sign-up. I had been more concerned about saving a few bucks, than showing another human being some grace for an honest mistake that she didn’t even do.

Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving. It’s mid-afternoon and I’m at the local laundromat trying to take advantage of the fact that no one else should be there doing laundry. But there is. There’s this older woman a few washers down.

I throw my loads into the washer and find a spot in front of the TV. I flip on some rerun episodes of FRIENDS to have on as background noise keeping my eyes glued to my phone screen. After loading her own laundry, the woman sits down next to me and quietly reads the paper.

I notice her looking at some ads for the upcoming sales and ask her if she goes Black Friday shopping. When she turns to me, I can see she has a black eye and a bruise on the bridge of her nose. She tells me stories of past shopping adventures. I tell her some of my own, which includes a 6-hour wait in Walmart for a TV.

In the midst of the small talk, she tells me her mom passed away a few years back and she’ll be having dinner with a friend in a few hours at a local hotel restaurant. Later, she goes on to explain how she got her black eye. Apparently, socks on linoleum can be quite dangerous. She seemed quite happy just to have someone to talk to and it didn’t kill me either. When I left, I wished her a happy holiday and thanked her for chatting. She smiled.

See the difference? When I left the one woman, she was happy to see me go. If she were like me, she probably mumbled a few words and a “Good riddance!” as I walked out the door. But the other woman, smiled as I left, not because she was happy to see me go, but because I had been kind and showed some interest in her.

Maybe it will make more sense if I bring Jesus into this discussion. Jesus wasn’t a douche. Sure, He tried correcting the Pharisees and Sadducees and all the other “cees”, but He was also the guy making breakfast for his buddies after they’d been out fishing all night.

This holiday season when you’re out looking for the perfect gift and you’re kicking yourself for not doing more on-line shopping ask yourself this: How can I show someone kindness today? And I’d encourage you to be more mindful, not just with friends and family, but with those who will never be able to return the favor. A person in line at the Post Office. An elderly person at a local nursing home. The car vying for the same close spot at the grocery store.

And while you’re at it, let’s start being known for giving LARGE tips. And that doesn’t mean throwing down two tracts instead of one.

Love, Holly