Ham or turkey? Cheerios or cookies? Make the bed or leave it?

Some choices are fairly insignificant.
(unless you count whether or not to leave the huge container of laundry detergent on top of the washer or on the floor).
But if you do leave it on top of the washer, it’s possible that it could fall off and dump out…hypothetically, of course. 🙂

Other choices are game changers, whether we realize it or not.
Today, I experienced the effects of a seemingly small choice that had bigger repercussions than I imagined at the time. Some moments have the power to pay off big time in the relationships around us, but we often overlook them because we’d much rather choose the easier path.

It was a trying day for homeschooling a particular student of mine. At every turn, there was more discontentment and increased frustration. After lunch (which said student didn’t even partake of), we were planning on visiting an elderly lady at a local nursing home. Our regular visits don’t involve much time, but it does take planning to ensure that we actually go and keep our commitment to make a lonely person’s day better. Today, it took no less than 25 minutes for said child to join everyone else who was already in the van.

Buckled in.
Twenty-Five Minutes…..

By the time we were finally all in the car and all had our shoes on, I was literally raking my fingers through my hair and physically biting my tongue so as not to say something I would later regret. I was so done and we hadn’t even left the garage.

There was the moment of decision.
To do or not to do….that was the pressing question.

I could quite easily take everyone out, assign them quiet space to do their homework, put some down for naps, and then take 5 minutes to breathe….potentially ALONE!
IMG_2187Surely, we wouldn’t be the cheeriest people to visit anyways.

But, for whatever reason…perhaps the selfish thought of driving through Starbucks on the way home, I put the van in reverse. As I listened to the chaos of bickering and tempers rising and long series of complaints on the short drive there amongst all the lovelies in the backseat, I wondered how in the world this sweet lady could possibly benefit from a herd of grouches (including me!).

On inspiration, I pulled into the grocery store and told one of my children to go in and choose some flowers to give to Ms. Joan. My kiddo needed to think outside of themself….and, truth be told, so did I.

I literally dragged my lovely offspring by the hand into the floral section, where they begrudgingly chose a sweet-smelling, white hyacinth. “You will give this to Ms. Joan. You will be happy about it. And you will think about someone else with kindness” I insisted sternly with *that* whisper.

There was the moment of decision.
To do or not to do…that was the pressing question

Would my child follow through, change their attitude, and choose to love despite how they felt? Or would they stay on the path of selfish-minded thinking.

It took time, (like the whole drive to the nursing home), but by the time we entered Ms. Joan’s room, a new child had emerged and they choose to generously pass the little white flower into lonely hands. To which Ms. Joan’s wide smile of disbelief and overwhelming happiness that flooded her watery eyes made every moment that had led up to this one, well worth it.IMG_2164

It’s not always easythis idea of choosing to do right when we feel like sulking, but every time we do, it has an effect.

Generally, the greater effect is on the person who made the choice in the first place.

The rest of the day, my child’s attitude improved and their generosity increased.
This child….
gave away some of their snack.
let someone else borrow their bike.
played with their siblings.
was agreeable.
hugged me.

One very tough, critical choice led to beautiful outcomes (in themself and those around them). IMG_2181

It’s a simple concept really.
One that Christ has called us to.

Love others before yourself.

The implications of this choice are as endless as the opportunities we have to put it in to practice.

Choosing patience when your spouse speaks or acts without kindness.
Choosing to give the benefit of the doubt when you feel like your friend ignored you.
Choosing love when you feel slighted.
Choosing to engage when you would rather sulk.
Choosing to speak rightly when you feel hurt instead of hold it in.
Choosing to give when you’d rather hold on.
Choosing to speak sweetly when you’d rather grouch.

It may be a simple concept, but it’s impossible to successfully implement without first having your own heart transformed by Jesus’ love.

The truth is that we cannot export what we have not imported.
We need Christ’s Sacrificial Love in order to love others.

Have you accepted the life-changing gift of Jesus’ love?
How are you sharing it today?