It’s okay to try. It’s alright to aim at goals and try to get to achieve them. When I learned of Christ and His life, it was by faith. He was the One who is alive in me. But there are things I had to do. I had to move, I had to become a single mom 5/7th’s of the time, and I had to learn to trust others. Christ didn’t automatically move us there, or even make the decision easy. He didn’t warm my heart immediately, and opening up and speaking in meetings had to become a learned habit. Which is funny because before moving, I led groups of teenage girls to commit to “purity” and I spoke to the youth from a pulpit with no fear, but great pride and glory. When learning to speak of Christ, I had to drop the habit of sharing information and my wisdom, and learn to be led by the Spirit.
When I decided to detox from religion and learn Christ I set down my Bible for a while. The early Christians didn’t have one and they had fires raging in their hearts for the Savior. But then after I felt comfortable I began to read the good book again. And I discovered that in the New Testament there are a lot of guidelines when it comes to the subject of manners, sincerity, and making other people feel comfortable. I used to read the book and found the instruction sensible and almost like a rule-book for being a good Christian. It was law. Now that Christ has broken the law, and He has become the law, I don’t ever feel as though I need to do something for Christ. His life is absolute and within, so the thought of doing something outside of myself to please the Christ inside of me is weird. But, the Christ inside of me expresses His life in ways that flow outward. I have become very comfortable with expressing Him through my manners. And although it’s a natural expression, it is still a habit and habits are learned and/or changed through awareness, application, and simply “trying”. Which can be a bad word in the freedom of Christ, but in this case, I am not trying to be like Christ or trying to do something for His love. I am trying to be open and willing to change, because Christ can be expressed if I am in the habit of practicing manners. Hope that makes good sense. 🙂
Good habits and behavior in turn help me gain self-confidence. I feel comfortable as I learn what it means, in my life, to be sincere. Actions speak louder than words. Who I am is not defined by what I say, but rather what I do. I know the Person of Christ is the foundation of who I am, but we are not all the same, obviously, so there are parts of us that stem out from our identity in Christ. Who am I, other than a daughter of God and a fiance’ to the Lord? Proverbs 12:1 and 25:28 claims that the exhausting task of growing disciplined, well-mannered children is well worth my effort. Am I disciplined and well-mannered? Just because I am a Christian doesn’t guarantee these traits, otherwise the job of a parent to train a child up in the ways would not only be invalid, but it wouldn’t be in the book of Proverbs, in the world’s most important book.
Are others comfortable around me? Am I a safe woman to talk to, to befriend? Do I put the needs of others before my “wants” and am I mindful of the comfort level of others when around them? Christ has lived in my heart for years, yet I have not been these things at times. One of the greatest ways to change a habit is to remind myself often with a yellow string around the finger, hold mirrors up to myself, and ask for help. When I express manners, I am letting pieces of the Lord shine through me. And it’s not a wait-and-see thing for me, I actually need to try to change my habits.
There are contradictory thoughts in the Christian worldview of psychology. Some say that trying at all is bad and Christ should do it all. Others think that effort is required of us and I have realized that I fall into that category. I have, at times, stopped trying to do anything in my own effort and I was rude. Christ was not pouring out. In fact, I became quite fat on Christ and there was nothing left for anyone else. I was basking in the Lord and with no effort, got quite comfy. I believe that I am enmeshed with the Lord and that I am a part of His Body. A body moves, it takes thought, and muscle, and effort to move. Christ wanted a woman who married Him of her own free will, which means we have thoughts of our own too.
My thoughts are with the Lord. I want to be mindful of others. It may be His thought, but the effort required to break my bad habits will have to come from a resolve I make myself.
What are some of the habits I am referring to? Visiting others who are lonely, in need of help, or simply friends who need a pick me up after a long, hard day with the kids. I don’t like to leave the comfort of my routine or my home so that’s a tough one. Another tough one is letting others into my home and making them feel at home… I am a neat freak. I am particular. I have my grandma’s things out and don’t want them messed with and I don’t want to put them away in boxes. So I have freaked out when people with kids come over. I don’t want my stuff destroyed. I need to trust that if I am hospitable, everything will be okay.
Behavior communicates respect. Have I respected others with my behavior? Have I been open with my heart? Have I been honest and open to hearing what others have to say? It’s not okay to treat people harshly. As a person who has decided to live by Christ’s life, it takes an effort to forgive always. It has taken effort to forgive. Manners is essentially letting people be who they are, even if they are childish or rude, and deciding to love them and treat them with respect anyway. People have done this in my life, they have been good to me even when they didn’t understand me and it’s been the thread keeping me together at times.
I have a long list of manners that I am learning as an adult. It’s no longer about chewing with my mouth closed, I learned that one as a child. Manners as an adult comes down to putting others before myself and treating others how I want to be treated. I don’t know anyone who does these things 100% of the time. It takes effort. It takes making it a habit. And it’s damn hard.
Have a wonderful week!