Friday, March 4, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel, and thoughts about the tongue

It's there! I can finally see it! After much prayer and consideration, I have decided that I'm going to graduate a semester early. Whoo!

It means taking another 18 credit hour semester, but they won't all be upper division (I'm taking 18 this semester, and they are, and it's kind of killing me), and then I will just be done!

I can't wait. I'm so excited. To be DONE with college for a while! Do I want to go to grad school? Yes, but only if I can find a fellowship/ scholarship, or better yet a company who wants to send me and will pay for it. But for what I want to do, it really doesn't make that much of a difference. At this point it's more of a want than a need, so we'll see. I don't want to be a teacher unless I have to be, so a master's degree in English won't take me much further in my career. I love school. But I am ready for a break... and honestly what will benefit me the most is if I can break into the field and start making some real money.

Anyway, on to other things.

Yesterday was a great day. Work, then homework, then time with Scot. He patiently waited for me to finish my homework, and then we found a bench outside and talked for a while. It was a beautiful day yesterday. The sun was warm, the grass green, and the trees are starting to come alive again. In fact we looked at one, and it was neat to see the little shoots of leaves beginning to grow on a sycamore. Then we went to his Bible Study, and we talked about James 3, and had a discussion on how important it is to be mindful of our speech and its effect on others.

The tongue is a powerful thing. With it, we can shred someone to pieces or build them up. I can recall a lot of painful things people have said about me, but I can also recall positive, encouraging things people have said as well. Guess which people I have better relationships with? It's good to think about.

Growing up, I was raised that you treat others the way you want to be treated. I did my very best not to speak badly about people no matter what, and to speak positively whenever I could. Yes, it's hard. Yes, it takes practice. But you know what? I don't take credit for it, because it isn't anything I do out of my own strength. Rather, Christ living in me makes it possible.

What you say is a reflection of your thoughts, and your thoughts come from what is in your heart. Even when I joke about things, I am very careful about what it is I'm joking about.

How is it possible? For me, it takes two things. The first one is prayer. If there is someone in my life that I am having an issue with, or has done something to make me mad or whatever, my first reaction is usually defense and irritation. I want to correct them, tell them how they're wrong, etc. But then I pray for them, and something happens; God gives me His heart for that person, and suddenly I see everything in a different light. The situation may not have changed necessarily, but I have. This is key. That's why Jesus says to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us-- not because we're guaranteed they will change, but because we will. I think this is far more valuable in God's eyes anyway... it produces a closer relationship with Him.

The second thing is just "Jesus" in the moment. What do I mean? In the moment, when you are physically in the thick of things, to just call on the name of Jesus with a proper attitude. There have been many times, in my own experiences, when I really want to make a cutting remark or say something hurtful, but then I can feel in my spirit that it isn't right and that I shouldn't. And I have a choice. Do I say it? Or do I make the effort to ask God for wisdom in the moment? Sometimes it is very, very hard. It's a test of where my heart is, right then. And I don't always like what I see, that's for sure. And yes, there have been times when I have failed myself and failed other people. But you know what? It's worth it to ask God for help. Because if my heart is in the right place, God can use what I say for the benefit of someone else, and I can be an example of Him to others. And if it isn't, then it acts like a spotlight to show me what I need to go to Him about character- wise. It is hard. I have to be honest about what it is I think, and why, and line it up with God's word to see if it is good.

I have to say, my life has undoubtedly been greatly affected by my decision to be careful with words. I think it is one of the main reasons I have so many great people and relationships in my life, and I know for a fact that it has helped me be successful in everything from school to work to a whole range of areas. In fact, my boss once was telling someone about me, and noted that one of my assets is that I always build others up. She noticed! But I guess that's the point: people notice how you talk, whether you know the impact of your words or not. I have a friend who once told me, "Hannah, I just feel safe with you. I know I can tell you anything and you won't use it against me." Wow, what a compliment. I want to be someone that people feel safe with, someone that people can trust. Because I really care about people. Or rather, God in me cares about them, and I have a choice to take care of His people or to tear them down, and I would much rather build them up. Well I think that's all for today, this is getting long. :)

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