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If there is one thing I have pushed myself towards this year, it’s an open mind. Each day, challenging myself to see the world with fresh eyes, to open my heart for others and to let them feel welcomed, allowing myself to open up and to empathize with those both around me and whom I’ve never met.

While this sounds like an easy enough task, quickly I have been shown the difficulties and I have felt the strain this has caused, not only on my own life and thoughts on how I see the world, but on my relationships with family and friends at home. This is not at all to say that I was raised in a close-minded, cold-hearted family or to discount the amazing love I felt growing up, I know that I have always had a soft spot for those who feel injustice or loneliness. I have just recognized that the past 9 months have been a more immediate change, a more immediate focus, to other’s realities around me.

And before my parents read this and panic thinking their little girl went off to a university and became a crazy, boundry-less liberal, I want all of my readers to realize that this way of life, this way of living is a calling for each and every one of us.

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Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

We are called to live our lives selflessly, not focused on our individual success and power. So many of us, including myself, get caught up in living in million dollar homes, owning the newest Apple (or Droid) phones, material items, looking a certain way, making showy political or social statements – the list is endless. Such temporary things that have absolutely no meaning in the grand scheme of things are what we worry about losing and not having in our hands or immediate access to every second of every day.

And even if we aren’t those kinds of people, if we aren’t focused on wasted items, are we focused on wasted memories or moments? So we traveled the world and spent time in the present, but did we make it mean something? Did we take those moments and use them to better others, did we share our experiences and feelings of freedom and liberation with those who aren’t as fortunate, or were they Instagram or Facebook posts to entice envy and pride?

It is as simple as being kind and changing our intentions. Detaching ourselves from ourselves every now and again.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but do not love, I am nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s word with power, revealing all of His mysteries and making everything as plain as day, and if I have faith to say to a mountain “jump” and it jumps but do not love, I am nothing. If I give all I earn to the poor or even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr but do not love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, no matter what I believe, no matter what I do, I am bankrupt with out love.

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