"We all need people who will give us feedback. That's how we improve." (Bill Gates) There is a principle taught in scripture of iron sharpening iron. In essence, it implies it takes something a little abrasive to actually put a sharp edge on us. The "tuning up" of our character is not done so much in the little "off-hand" comments, but in the times we actually sit face-to-face and listen with intent to what the other person is telling us. It may not be perfect, nor may it be comfortable, but if our heart is open to actually learn from each other, we each have so much to share. As I have said before, we only see half of ourselves in a mirror, but the other individual sitting across from us has seen us back and front!
In the same way that iron sharpens iron, a person sharpens the character of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17 VOICE)
I saw a post recently reminding us not to change to get people to like us. The rest of the quote just reminded us to be ourselves and then the "right people" will love us. I'd have to change that a little by saying we need to be constantly changing, but in a way which is reflective of the strength and character of Christ. In the end, others will be drawn to what they see in us - some out of curiosity because they don't understand the hope and peace they see in us; others because the long for that same character in themselves. Yes, it is important to be genuine in our actions - that makes us "real". It is also important to be genuine in our desire to embrace what Christ wants to change within each of us so that we settle into his peace and learn of his love.
Another friend posted a photo of a sign they saw in someone's lawn which told people to shut off the TVs and social media feeds and then go out to actually meet their neighbors. I must say, in the wake of devastatingly horrific events leaving people grieving the loss of loved ones and the maiming of others, it is imperative we do both. We need to be people who see beyond ourselves and we need to be people who become the kind of people others can trust. Trust isn't built behind walls - it is built when we live our lives openly - even when it may reflect less than perfect character on occasion!
Probably one of the best quotes I saw this week was of a farmer, tenderly stroking his horse, and the caption read: "I am not a perfect person. I make a lot of mistakes. But I really appreciate those people who look beyond my mistakes, who see my big heart, who stay with me after knowing how I really am and who love me no matter what." (Author Unknown) These are the kind of people we want to become, my friends. The kind of people who remain true to who and what we are, are open to change when the change will make us better at the core of our being, but who are also willing to love people who are living this way, too!
We all need change - none of us has "arrived" yet when it comes to "perfect character". The road to change is long and hard at times, but when we stay real as we travel that distance between what we are today and what God is helping us to become, we will be able to enjoy the journey so much more. There is nothing more liberating than to be genuine and there is nothing more joyful than to be embraced by others who are willing to get real with us! Just sayin!