Adopting an “attitude of gratitude” first thing in the morning will start your day off on a positive note. Let this become one of your new “patterns”. Walk through your day saying, “Thank You” for all the blessings in your life. It sets the proper tone for handling the everyday stresses and frustrations that inevitably arise as you interact with others.

The next important “pattern” that will help you to better reflect God is to start seeing the people around you as God sees them. Yes, even the backstabbing co-worker, the “I wish I were anywhere but here” waiter, clerk or postal employee, the driver who cuts you off in traffic, and your (seemingly) ungrateful and demanding family. Look beyond their behavior to what might be happening under the surface. Think back to times when you yourself have behaved selfishly, rudely, or impatiently. What caused you to snap at people, drive too fast, refuse to help, or ignore someone?

Instead of reacting to their undesirable behavior, try responding with compassion, understanding and love. The Native American saying about not judging someone until you have “walked a mile in their moccasins” gave rise to this quote by Robert Byrne, “Until you have walked a mile in another man’s moccasins, you can’t imagine the smell.” If we could all keep that in mind, I think it would be easier to “love our neighbors”!

If someone is rude or insensitive, you have three choices. You can ignore them, you can treat them rudely in return, or you can deliberately respond to them with concern and sensitivity.

Ignore them, and you might miss a chance to bless them. Treat them rudely and you have allowed them to change you into them! But by choosing to reach out in kindness, you just might make a difference in their day, or even their life.

Perhaps you might say something like, “You seem to be having a tough day. Is everything alright?” or “Dealing with the public makes it difficult to smile sometimes, doesn’t it?” The simple act of responding with warmth and care has the potential to turn an entire situation around. And you will have developed a pattern of demonstrating God’s love and mercy to those you encounter, rather than allowing yourself to get frustrated and upset by your circumstances.

So if your “patterns” of living and behavior need a little tweaking, try these “attitude adjustments”. Adopt a mindset of gratitude, looking for and acknowledging the blessings that are all around you every day. Practice forgiveness and compassion towards others, even when you don’t think they deserve it. And make the decision when faced with less than appealing circumstances or people, to choose to consciously and deliberately respond rather than impulsively react.

Instead of conforming to the patterns of this world, choose new behaviors that will “transform and renew your mind.”  And the next time you open your eyes, it will be easier to see God around you, identify and appreciate your many blessings, and recognize the various opportunities presented to you to share God’s love in the world.

“Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Philippians 3:17


Bonus Question:
What does the photo atop this article display?

If you guessed “pine bark”, you are right! This photo was taken of a pine tree at a park in Fort Walton Beach, Florida in December, 2008! It reminded me of a puzzle and was reminiscent of how the various pieces of our lives all fit together to make wonderfully diverse compositions and tapestries. Nature never
fails to renew my wonder, awe and reverence for God’s artistic abilities! The world is filled with immeasurable combinations of patterns and textures--there is exquisite beauty all around us if we just take the time to see it.
 
Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, artist and Stephen Minister. Please visit her website http://www.inspiredreflections.info/ for additional “Reflections” on Life and Marriage. She has just finished the first draft of her first book, Your Life, Your Choice, which gives 5 simple steps to harness the power of your choices and bring more Love, Joy and Peace into your life. She can be reached at reflecting@me.com.

Original publication date: August 10, 2009