The Weight of Influence

I’ve talked before about vulnerability, and that it’s sometimes difficult to write because a lot of vulnerability is required (See “Gifts Used for Growth“). In everything that I write, a piece of my life, heart and/or mind is revealed to the readers.

That is one part of writing that is scary, but there is another I find to be much more significant. The aspect of writing that probably scares me the most is influence.

I used to be able to write with freedom and post without much forethought. I wrote about what I was learning and put it out for the world to see. As I’m getting older and am a leader in my church’s jr. high youth group, I’m understanding the power of influence.

What scares me is that someone might read what I’m learning, my thoughts and opinions and fully accept them for their own. I try my best to write honestly, to admit that I don’t know everything, or even very much at all. To show that I have weaknesses, and I fall short often. I do this in hopes that people won’t take everything I write as perfect and true, but to instead take it with a grain of salt.

The best example I have of this is when I wrote my post titled “Sex and God“. In all honestly, I didn’t even want to write it, but I also didn’t feel like I had a choice. It was my response to a blog post by a woman who walked through some difficult circumstances with intimacy in the beginning of her marriage. She wrote about why waiting to have sex until marriage messed her up. What bothered me the most while reading her post was seeing the potential influence it could have on others. I thought of any of my jr. high students reading it, accepting it and acting on it. That was what pushed me to write my response post, along with God’s graceful guidance. I wanted to add some Truth to a situation full of lies. I wanted to add some positive influence to a situation with the potential to have an incredibly negative impact.

The weight of my influence can sometimes be scary. I never want someone to read my writing and accept it without thinking through it on their own first. Not everyone will agree with what I have to say, and not everyone should.

I would say that one of my most common prayers when I sit down to write something new is discernment. I want to write honestly, I want to be open about what I’m walking through, and I want to encourage others towards growth, but that takes prayer, diligence and discernment.

Although influence is a scary thing, and in the wrong hands it can be deadly, it can also glorify God and bring honor and praise to Him. That’s what I want. I want everything I say to be God-honoring and to walk away knowing that I only write because of Him and the words He gives me.

Where do you have influence?

Do you understand the value in being a positive influence to others, in everything that you do and say?

Are you using that influence to further the Kingdom of God? If not, what are you using it for?

Do you recognize the weight of having influence over any single person?

Have a blessed day!

-Sadie

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Speak Life

“I’m not as smart as him.”

“I probably can’t do it.”

“I’m not as pretty as her.”

“She’s a better mother than I could ever be.”

“I always mess things up.”

“I’m so stupid.”

“I’m not good enough.”

These are all thoughts that we’ve had, myself included. The last one especially. Philippians 4:8 says, “Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” This verse is often used in reference to thinking purely, but the more I read it, the more I realize how broad it is. True, pure, good, beautiful. Those are a few of the words that really stand out to me when I think about negative thoughts.

God has really been putting a burden on my heart for speaking truth into the lies that others have bought into. This morning as I was looking to Scripture to find direction for my thoughts, I kept coming to the words “encourage”, “lift up”, and “life”. I’ve written about the significance of words in previous posts, because as a writer I have been able to directly see the weight of them.

Today, I want to focus on Ephesians 4:29. There are so many verses that state our obligation to encourage and lift others up. I use such a strong word, because the Bible doesn’t say, “It’d be kinda cool if you could…” it just says to do it! Not to do it only if you’re having a good day, or your mood allows for it. This verse says, “When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need—words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you.”

I was recently talking to a friend on the phone who is nearing graduation and beginning to have plans for her future come together. Others have been starting to recognize in her the insecurity she holds and how that impacts her thought cycle. While we were goofing of and enjoying each other, she said a comment, that she probably figured was in passing. All I could hear in her words were lies, negativity and insecurity. I called her on it. She tried to move on, but I just could not let it go. In that moment, I could feel God speaking life into her. It was not my own thoughts, words or heart being spoken to her in that time, but rather God using me to reach her.

I’m not sure why this passion and burden has been set so strongly on my heart recently, but what is so beautiful about it is that I can actually do something with it! I can confront those words when they are spoken by others.

I want to challenge you to do the same. I believe that’s one of the best parts of relationships, is the ability to build others up! When you hear someone speak down on themselves, whether clearly or in passing, don’t just idly hear it and continue on. Stop the conversation, call them on it, and speak life into the negativity. Honestly, it is a challenging thing to do, it’s much easier to just let it slide, but I think this is one small aspect of what it looks like to love others as yourself. If I were to say things about myself that were flat-out lies, I would want someone to attack it and encourage me.

Just a thought to roll around in your mind!

Have a blessed day!

-Sadie

Words

I’m constantly surprised by the many tools one can find online. For instance, last night, I wanted to see number of the days between one date to the next. I typed this into Google, and what do you know, numerous options came up. Several weeks ago, when planning an activity for my students, I needed to scramble a list of words so they were no longer in order, and discovered that several websites provide that service! (It’s the simple things in life, right?)

I began to realize that there is never an end to the internet and what we can use it for. I am discovering how many ways in which we misuse the internet, and the many ways in which it is used for good. It reminds me a lot of our words. Our words come in an endless fashion. There is no end to what we can say, using not only words, but the inflection or tone of voice.

The other night, I was talking with a friend in my apartment building. His son, who is quite young, came and was asking me to do something for him. While he was waiting for my help, the father rambled some angry words in Spanish (that I didn’t understand) to the little boy who then left. He began to cry as he was walking down the hall towards their apartment. It turns out that the son had said a couple of bad words and that was why he got in trouble.

This little boy has become like a son to me over the past months, he greets me almost every day as I head out to work and every evening as I’m getting home. His father told me that often times, in the morning before school, he asks to come and spend time with me. I love this little boy like he were my own, and hearing him crying actually broke my heart a little bit. I quickly understood that the son was not crying because he was in trouble, he was crying because he was embarrassed. It was the words his father used, and the tone of voice that made the son embarrassed. Ironically so, it was the words the son used that got him in trouble in the first place.

Words can be a blessing, or a curse. Words can heal, but they can, also, very easily wound. It is far too easy to let words leave your mouth and penetrate the mind of someone else without thinking first.

Our words hold so much power, and I feel that that is often overlooked. We don’t realize that what we say might follow a person for the rest of their lives, whether positive or negative.

When we are young, we are taught, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That has to be the biggest lie that children are ever told. Words can most certainly hurt and far more than broken bones. Bones eventually heal, but words can create a wound that might never be fully healed. Along with broken bones comes a story, but along with hurtful words comes anger, hurt and true, heart-level damage.

If being perfectly honest, there were many negative words that were said to me growing up that are still with me today. I don’t think most of these words were slung at me with the intention of hurting me, but they did regardless.

Satan has this way of taking these hurts, these awful words, and turning them into lies. He works hard to have us believe them about ourselves and let them define us. Thankfully, we have an awesome God who is waiting to fill us with truths about who we are. Our God is waiting for us to let Him define us, to wipe away these wounds and replace them with His love and grace. Words are one of the many things that cause hidden wounds. God is the only one that can take these hidden wounds and make them into something beautiful. Don’t let words define who you are and don’t buy into the lies satan twists these words into. You are worth so much more than that.

Have a blessed day!

-Sadie

Quite Honestly: When Things Go Wrong

{Disclaimer: I sincerely apologize if this comes across as a way for me to vent, that is definitely not my intention. I have began writing these “Quite Honestly” posts to share where I am at spiritually. I’m learning to be quite honest about the things I am working through and the emotions I’m feeling in an attempt to inspire others.}

I have been having several days in a row where things seem to be working against me. It’s as though every thing that could go wrong, does.

Yesterday, among many other frustrations, I had an allergic reaction to an ant bite. I have been bit plenty of times (every day) on my feet by these ants while being here, yet for some reason my body reacted differently. Almost instantly my foot become extremely swollen and painful. Before long it was mostly numb and difficult to walk on.

Today, I’m dealing with the swelling and pain from that, and also beginning to get a sore throat and migraine. I just fought off a sinus cold over the weekend, and I’m dreading having to do this all over again. As some of you may know, I have an extremely weak immune system. I take several vitamins every day to keep from constantly being sick. When I do get sick, I double up on vitamins and drink a ton of fluids, but regardless it takes a toll on my body. All of my energy goes into fighting off whatever illness has found me, therefore I become extremely tired. I hate being sick and having bodily issues all the time. I hate that I have low pain tolerance and when talking about these things come across as though I’m complaining.

I’ve been working on school stuff, trying to get a graduation plan finished. As I’m working on this, I get an e-mail from my admissions advisor, reminding me that I can’t take any more education courses until my background check is finished. I ordered said background check in March, and followed all the required steps, but my payment was never processed. I emailed my advisor, and her attempt to help fell flat and I have gotten nowhere. It is now August, and I have had to do the detailed, mundane process again, in hopes that things have changed and my payment will be processed. Right now, it’s okay that I can’t take education courses, because I have other courses I can take. Yet, it’s extremely frustrating, because that leaves me to having several semesters in a row of only education courses.

These are just a few of the bigger things affecting my life right now; the tip of the iceberg, as some would say.

I haven’t been able to sleep well, I’ve been having a lot of headaches and migraines, my stomach hasn’t been accepting very many foods lately, my neighbor enjoys playing music with really loud bass at night which gives me a headache, my knee that I injured last month has been aching, and the list goes on.

Needless to say, life has been a little frustrating lately. I feel like I’ve been running in circles. Like I’m working hard to accomplish things, yet nothing is actually being accomplished.

God has blessed me with a very patient spirit. I have always been patient when things aren’t working as I hoped they might, or as they should. I have always been patient with people who aren’t able to or willing to get things done when or how they should be done. Things that many people get frustrated or irritated about, tend to go right over my head.

And yet, my patience is beginning to wear thin. I’m beginning to get frustrated about a few things. I also had become a little discouraged by it all. Almost feeling abandoned, in a way. So I began to evaluate the situation and how I was feeling and realized that all of the above things mentioned, are completely out of my control.

I can’t change that my body had an allergic reaction, or that that one ant bit me. I can’t fix my immune system and stop getting sick. I can’t change my pain tolerance. I can’t make this payment become processed and for all those details to work out.

It’s not even about being in control for me, it’s that I can’t fix it. I’m a fixer. I like to fix problems, give advice to those whom ask for it, and work to improve anything that can be improved. And yet, i can’t fix any of it. There is nothing I can do to change what is happening.

The two things I can do about all of this are to pray, and to cling to Christ. In all my frustrations, stress and disappointment, God remains. He knows all that is on my heart and mind. I’m learning to go to Him and just to talk. Let out my frustrations and triumphs of the day.

It’s certainly not easy. I forget to do so more often than I remember. But, I’m finding that each time I walk towards Him, and hand him my thoughts and emotions, He returns them back with peace and strength. Those two things do not make the problems go away, or lessen the affect they have on my life, but they do help me to feel more prepared to handle them and anything else that may come.

Have a blessed day!

-Sadie