Be a Light

August 31, 2020

Every once in awhile (thankfully not often) I have one of those days where I see the world crumbling before me. Not my world, but the world in general, especially in the country I live in. I had an extremely discouraging trip to the supermarket the other day. Immediately upon entering, someone else was in my same path on the way out. Instead of moving aside saying excuse me, he veered quickly making nasty comments toward me as he walked by. Not the end of the world. I have thick skin and certainly don’t get my feelings hurt easily. It would have been ok if things ended there, but they didn’t. A few minutes later I asked a couple of associates for help looking for different things. In a very bothered and nasty way, they answered my question. Other people in the supermarket were being nasty to each other. This was very surprising to me. Normally people and associates at this supermarket are very friendly. My part of the U.S (Buffalo, New York) is a part that is generally friendly. We are known as the city of good neighbors, and the city often lives up to its nickname. The worst part of this experience is when I exited the store and was in the parking lot. There was a car with flags for gay pride and black lives matter. Now the only stance I will take on these topics now is that everyone has a right to express what they believe. However, what absolutely killed me is that a man was walking in the parking lot screaming and cursing continually at the people in the car. There was also a black man walking by. I was afraid that the screamer was yelling at him, and I asked that man if that was the case. He told me no, that the guy was yelling at the car. However, a minute later someone else was yelling at that black man causing him to yell back! Again, these are incidents and issues I see far less in my city than in other places.

I was feeling a wide range of emotions after this awful experience. I was shocked. I was scared that something further negative would develop as a result. What scared me more was the anger I could feel building up inside me. In fact, so much so that this extremely peaceful individual who avoids conflict at all costs was ready to argue and fight back with anyone else who decided to start trouble. Luckily, I eventually caught myself and thought logically. I decided that instead of adding to the problem I needed instead to figure out something that could solve the problem. It was then that I was reminded of a song I’ve been hearing lately, and also about something I’ve written about often. The song is a Thomas Rhett country collaboration called “Be a Light.” It talks about being a light in a dark world. It’s a beautiful song, and if you want to take a listen, here it is. I then reflected again on one of my favorite Bible verses which is Matthew 5:14-16 which says… You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

This world can be a very dark place sometimes, especially with all that is going on now with pandemics, protests, senseless shootings, and God knows what else. It is very easy to fall into a negative frame of mind as a result. However, I challenge myself and you my cherished reader to handle this darkness in a different way. Let us instead light our worlds with the light that lives in every one of us. Instead of placing it under a bushel, let us “put it on a stand and give light to everyone in the house.” My work environment is a very negative place, and yours may be too. Let us shine our light there. Will we completely take away the darkness and make everyone there happy? No, but even if we can make a difference for some, we’ve used our light in a positive way. Is your home a dark and negative place? I hope not, but if it is, shine your light brightly and be a positive inspiration. You can indeed make a big difference. Wherever you are, let your light, the one that God has given you shine. Just like a sunny day after 3 rainy ones can brighten your mood, so can a shining Godly light after days, weeks, or even years of darkness.

My supermarket experience the other day was a reminder that we don’t fight evil with evil. We don’t fight darkness with more darkness. Instead, we change darkness by turning on the light. As soon as this thought entered my mind, my emotions changed from anger and wanting to bring justice to peace. I left the supermarket quickly as I had other places to be. I most likely cannot change attitudes of prejudice and discrimination immediately, but I know I can be a Godly example and do my best to bring light to a dark world, and you can too. At first, it will make a small difference, but if we persist, we may not even realize the great positive influence we can become. We not only bring light to others, but our own worlds light up as well. Enjoy the blessings 🙂


When You Kill Them With Kindness You Bring Them to Life

November 15, 2015

kindness pic

Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart. – Proverbs 3:3

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself – Proverbs 11:17

This article is a continuation of a series I am sharing about positive and powerful attitude attributes in Jeffrey Gitomer’s book “The Little Golden Book of Yes”. It is part of a positive attitude report card shared in the book where the readers rate themselves on a scale of 1-5 to monitor their level of positive attitude. I have taken the challenge of trying to rate 5 for as many as the 22 attributes as possible. I challenge you to do the same, as doing so can drastically change the amount of positivity and power in your life.

The attribute I discuss today is kindness. The definition I found for kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It doesn’t sound too difficult to me, though I often wonder why so many people in the world today have such difficulty practicing it. I can’t say that I am perfect in practicing this in every situation, but I can say this…I have seen so many times how even just one simple kind act can not only change someone’s day, but can change their entire outlook on a negative situation, ultimately enhancing one’s quality of life.

There are so many more Bible verses about kindness than the ones I shared at the beginning of the post. Besides being listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5, one more that grabs my attention is Proverbs 25:11 which says that “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver”. Often times, that fitly spoken word is a kind word. The second verse above says a man who is kind benefits. However, I find it more amazing that it is other people that benefit most when we are kind. And if you really want to stand out like gold, be kind in situations where kindness is not warranted or expected. It is extremely rare that people are kind when they have been wronged or hurt by someone. However, you can really be a true, Godly example by demonstrating such an attitude. It’s not easy to do, but I love the shock (or even frustration sometimes) on someone’s face when I return their negative or even rude behavior with kindness. Even if they don’t change from it, I at least get the satisfaction of knowing I handled the situation right and some kind of justice has been served.

As you can see, everyone wins when you demonstrate kindness. You benefit yourself, and most importantly, you make life better for those around you. The challenge going forward is to find as many opportunities as you can to demonstrate kindness to others (and please don’t forget to be kind to yourself as well). Even in difficult situations, find ways to kill ’em with kindness. Eventually it becomes habit, and the magnificent blessings magnify for you and everyone else. Enjoy them 🙂


The 100 Smile Challenge

September 17, 2012

It was one of those Sundays. Instead of relaxing at home with the family and watching football, I was at my part time job handing out free food samples. However, it was a very slow day. The weather was beautiful, the local football team was playing their first home game, and people were just not in the food shopping mood.

My mind drifted as I stood there in the far corner of the store with much less than the normal amount of vistors I would normally see. First I prayed. Then I visualized reaching some of my goals. However, after a while I could no longer focus. I felt like I needed to do something drastic and make positive impacts at the same time. Then the idea came to my mind. I usually do my best to put a smile on someone’s face with a kind word, or simply smiling at them. However, when things get busy at the store or at at the school I teach at, the smile and positive intentions sometimes disappear. I made the intention that today, since it was much slower, I would make this effort with every single person that came my way. My goal by the end of the day was to get 100 people in my presence to smile.

As I thought about it, I realized that the task was not very difficult. It’s a fact that when you smile at someone else, it is very likely they will smile back. I’ve seen it before at this store. Even if they don’t like what I’m promoting, they will still usually respond positively to the hello and smile they receive from me. The only difficulty today would actually be coming in contact with 100 people.

I began the deliberate smiles and positive greetings. I immediately received positive responses. I couldn’t get everyone to smile back, but even those who didn’t at least acknowledged me and said hello. One benefit I didn’t plan on during this time was that, as I was relaying smiles and positivity to others, I was being affected myself! I began to feel more positive and energetic. Besides putting smiles on the faces of others, I was getting the biggest kick out of this, and the smile grew automatically on my own face. The funny thing is that I was promoting a relatively unpopular product (seltzer water). Regardless, my encounters with the customers felt more natural and at ease, even though many had no interest in sampling the product.

As the day went on, I realized I was going to hit this goal. There were enough people passing by in the 4 hours I was on the floor. And I had 4 more people at home to share this positivity with as well! As it turned out, my final count was 112. As I end my day now I thank God for the idea, and the satisfaction of putting smiles on 112 faces today. It’s not the first time I’ve put a smile on someone’s face. However, it is the first time I set such a drastic goal and actually exceeded it. The reminder from this is that it can be done anytime, anywhere. I teach 150 students a day. Why not make the same deliberate effort to put some extra positive into their day? The same can be done with family members, friends, supermarket cashiers, people passing by, etc.

I would understand if you called me crazy for actually taking the time to tally smiles. I would certainly believe you. Those closest to me would say it’s something typical that I would do. However, I challenge you to do the same. Set a number goal and go out of your way to put a smile on as many faces as you can. It’s not difficult. Simply keep the smile on your own face, let God’s love shine through you, and say hello or something nice. You’ll be amazed at the positive impacts you make, and how good you feel also. Yes, the 100 smile challenge is a bit extreme, but sometimes you need to be that way to stand out and make a positive difference. Please share your results of where and when you try this and accomplish it. I would love to hear about it. Enjoy the blessings : )


A Powerful Challenge

November 3, 2011

Every once in a while, we experience a day on the job that is memorable, and one of a kind. I experienced that type of day today. At the school I work at, a representative from Colorado spoke about a program called Rachel’s Challenge.

In case you do not know what Rachel’s Challenge is, I will explain. It goes back to the unfortunate school shooting event at Columbine High School. Rachel was one of the students killed. She stood out because after her death, much information was found and shared about the wonderful contributions she had made, the hospitality she showed, and her mission to bring happiness and kindness to everyone she came in contact with. Her family decided to honor her by continuing the contributions she had already made and sharing her positive message with as many people as they could.

The individual that came to our school today spends her time traveling the country sharing the message with schools. The goal is to use this example to create a positive, caring environment. I will say that my school certainly needs this. I was very happy to have this program at my school because I have been praying on a regular basis for some type of positive influence in the school. It’s a great place, but is unfortunately infested with much negativity between students, teachers and students, and worse, teachers and teachers. I saw today’s visit as an answered prayer, as now our school is taking major steps to instill this much needed positivity.

I now share this challenge with those close to me, and anyone reading. With this challenge are five guidelines to showing the same kindness and love that Rachel did. They are:

  • Looking for the best in others. Everyone, no matter how many mistakes they’ve made, has something good about them. The key is to look for it, then focus on it.
  • Treat others as you want to be treated. This rule is “golden”
  • Stick with positive influences. There are so many negative influences out there. We need to be aware of who we allow to influence us. Rachel was influenced by Ann Frank and Martin Luther King. Find positive influences to follow and continue their example.
  • Use positive words only. Sticks and stones will break bones. You think names can never harm? Negative words can scar worse than any broken bone. Positive words can change someone’s life in a matter of seconds. Which influence do you want to be?
  • Forgive yourself and others. We all make mistakes. We have choices. We can allow those mistakes to drag us down. Or we can learn from them and let them go. When we let them go, we release the burdens that prevent us from loving ourselves and others.

As you can see this is not an easy challenge. However, it is definitely doable. I challenge myself and anyone else to do all we can to be this type of person. One who treats others (and ourselves) well, finds only the best in others, and does all they can to make this world a better place.

In the presentation they talked about causing a chain reaction of positive events. By following this example, we can cause a chain reaction of positive events and impacts on the world around us. If I died tomorrow, that’s what I would want to be remembered by. Would you take this challenge today and make your world a better place? If more people did this, our world would be so much more positive. Thank you Rachel for this wonderful model of life.