I’ve learned to really limit my time on Facebook (the bane of my existence), but on a recent stroll through my account, I came across a post with the caption “It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.” I passed it by without much of a thought…..at first…but then I found myself re-thinking that quote over and over again and my mood began to change. My mind thought of the recent actions of the “poster” and judgment entered in.
One of the very things I’ve been working on in my spiritual life is connecting with these kinds of negative emotions and/or the people who cause them and taking steps to remove or at least minimize them. I whispered a little prayer and the following verse in scripture came to mind.
“Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, “Let me remove that splinter from your eye, while the wooden beam is in your eye?” Matthew 7:3-5
I’m not sure how many people still do this but as a young child, we were taught to do a nightly examination of conscience. Reviewing our day, the decisions we made, the interactions we’ve had and then seeing where we could offer thanksgiving or ask for forgiveness. Let’s face it, we all fall short sometimes in offering the grace and forgiveness we want to receive from Christ. We can go through life justifying why we do what we do and say what we say, but in the end, God asks us to choose love – to light the path of darkness.
I think one of the reasons we make statements like the one I saw on Facebook is due to our own life’s disappointments and frustrations. We often fail to see our part in the choices we make and seek our own gratification instead of the ripples our decisions make. That old adage is true, “Walk a Mile in His Moccasins”. This quote is often contributed to various Native American tribes, but it actually comes from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title is “Judge Softly” – the complete poem can be found here.
Just walk a mile in his moccasins
Before you abuse, criticize and accuse.
If just for one hour, you could find a way
To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.
I believe you’d be surprised to see
That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind.
There are people on reservations and in the ghettos
Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.
Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I.
Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions
And see the world through his spirit and eyes
Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.
Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins
And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave
In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.
Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.
We will be known forever by the tracks we leave. I love that line. I want to leave tracks of love and forgiveness. I want to embrace the good in this world and get better at understanding people’s pain and where they are coming from. I want to seek forgiveness for where I’ve hurt others and better understand why they may have hurt me. I can no longer hold onto past hurts or question the motives behind their choices. Every day I will do my best to choose love over hate; trust over doubt and ask God to bring peace and rest to my soul.
I can’t help but recall the story of Abram and Sarai in Genesis, chapter 6. Poor Sarai wanted a child so badly, even after God reassured her husband Abram, in Genesis 15:4, that she would conceive a child; a child that would grow and produce offspring that would be more numerous than the stars in the sky.
But as time went on and Sarai felt her prayers were not being answered, she took matters into her own hands and offered her slave to Abram to sleep with as to bear him a child. What she wouldn’t do for what she wanted. I would describe Sarai as a good woman. She loved God, she was devout, but like all of us, she lacked the faith she needed in the waiting and that caused her to take desperate measures to get what she wanted. Although the child was born, it did not give her what she wanted and her actions began a spiral of other heartaches and hurt to follow.
It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement – it’s both – what you do should soften your heart to what you say. We don’t always know the entire story; why people choose to make the decisions they do. Trust that God knows your heart, sees your pain and frustration and has the power to change any situation in life.
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God,
who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28