I’m keeping my eyes open.

“Holding grudges. Judging others. Hating. Wanting to cause harm. Withholding forgiveness. Gossiping. Ridiculing. Ignoring others. Withholding mercy. Throwing stones. Stop it.” Dieter F Uchtdorf said that. He makes it sound so simple. Just stop. Stop letting others have control over you. Stop letting others affect you. TobyMac posted: “You don’t have to attend every argument you are invited to.” Wow. Why didn’t someone tell me this when I was growing up? Oh wait, my mama did. A rule of being a lady is: “The first to apologize is the bravest. The first to forgive is the strongest. And the first to forget is the happiest.” She tried to tell me over and over to be the bigger person, to let it go. (And boyyy did she try.) I didn’t listen though. When I was growing up, this girl did not like me, no matter what I did. The more she didn’t like me, the more I wanted to be her friend. I had this incessant need for everyone to like me. I tried to find approval where I was never going to get it. One day, I let my friend tell me that I needed to stand up for myself. So, she wrote this awful letter to the girl and I signed it. I knew right then and there that I never should have done it, but I did it anyways. I even felt proud of myself for it. Now looking back, I regret the letter so much. I didn’t understand the person who was always so mean to me. I didn’t see her side. I didn’t handle it the way I should. I stooped to her level. I was just as guilty. “The true mark of maturity is when somebody hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back.” That is a lesson I’ve definitely learned in college. There are always going to be mean people in the world that don’t like you and they will give you a list of why they don’t like you. I probably will never change their minds or their hearts, but I can certainly change mine. I can’t control their actions or thoughts, but I can control mine. I can control my reaction. Luke 6:45 talks about how the words we speak are what fills our hearts. I can control my words and my heart. Colossians 3:13 says: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” 

“People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. If you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

It always shocks me when people hurt me and I lash out because I’m not prepared. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote: “You need to learn to select your thoughts just the same way you select your clothes every day. This is a power you can cultivate.” I need to keep my eyes open. I need to learn how to react better. Tony A Gaskins Jr. said: “Never speak from a place of hate, jealously, anger or insecurity. Evaluate your words before you let them leave your lips.” I have the power to decide what kind of person I want to be. I have the power to decide how I react. I hear, all the time, things like: “The less you respond to negative people, the more peaceful your life will become.” “When you can’t forgive someone, pray for them. It may or may not change them, but it will always change you.” “If you spend time praying for people instead of talking about them, you’ll get better results.” “Forgiveness doesn’t excuse their behavior. Forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.” Maybe now I’ll learn to listen. I need to learn to how to let things go and how to forgive. I need to learn that my happiness is important and lashing out doesn’t make me a better person or a happier one.

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

So, that is my prayer today. I pray that I stop all those things. I pray that I stop giving others control over my life. I pray that I stop letting them win. I pray I learn from my mistakes. I pray that I stop stooping to their level. I pray that I stop reacting and start praying. I pray that I keep my focus on you. I pray that I keep my eyes open. I pray that I keep my heart open. I pray that I learn to let the past go. And as always I pray for my family and sorority sisters. I pray for my university. I pray for guidance for our government, church, and school leaders. I pray for protection for our troops. I pray for all of those that need you now and for those that haven’t met you yet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.