Make a Difference

Over the summer I came across a story entitled The Domino Factor. I’m not sure why exactly it resonated with me. Perhaps because I like a good story. Maybe because it’s a preach-able story. Or maybe just because I need to work on my attitude. Who knows?
 
Jerry was not a morning person. He yawned as he grabbed a paper and poured himself a cup of coffee at the corner convenience store. He yawned again as he made his way to the counter where the clerk stood like a mannequin waiting to take his money. She yawned too, as she mumbled the amount Jerry owed her. As he fumbled through his pockets for the correct change, he yawned again – which prompted the man in line behind him to yawn as well. Jerry paid and left the store. He was a block away before he realized that he’d left his newspaper on the checkout counter. He vowed to be more on the ball tomorrow.
 
Well the next morning when Jerry stepped into the store, a raucous scene was unfolding. A man was arguing bitterly with the cashier that the coffee wasn’t hot enough. Two other customers bickered at the pastry kiosk after one of them had picked out a roll and then put it back. A woman let out a cry as her purse fell open, spilling its contents down the aisle. And as she urgently tried to retrieve everything her toddler began to scream. This was too much for Jerry. He turned around to exit the store and accidentally bumped into a man coming in. Hey, watch where you’re going! the man bellowed. I certainly will, thought Jerry, because I don’t want to be around any more cranky people today!
 
As Jerry was a creature of habit, he went to the same store the next day to get his morning paper and coffee. But this time, he poked his head through the doorway to gauge the mood of the customers. A new cashier stood at the register, smiling. Good morning! she said as she waved him in. I just put on a fresh pot. Jerry poured his coffee and grabbed a paper. Smells great, doesn’t it? Will that be all today? she asked. Yes and yes, Jerry replied with a grin. Without batting an eye, the cashier said, OK then, that will be $125. Jerry reached into his pocket and then looked up at her quizzically. She gave him a wink. Gotcha, she giggled. Jerry shook his head at his slow uptake. Yes, you did! He smiled broadly. Now there’s the smile I was looking for, the clerk said as she handed Jerry his newspaper. Now go out there and make it a good day. Jerry called out: You too, as he headed out the door. He stooped at the entrance and looked back at the clerk. She was laughing with another customer in line. Jerry started to chuckle himself. This was going to be a great day!
 
Attitudes are contagious! This is the point of the story. And I wonder sometimes if this isn’t the essential point for every family, every community and every church. You see, the attitudes we carry around within us each day affect other people. In ways in which we are not even aware, how we speak to others, and smile at others, and respond to others creates a chain reaction that can bring more darkness and death to our world – or – more light and life.  And here’s the bottom line– we are responsible for our attitudes!
 
Most recently I volunteered to coach Anna’s “under 6” soccer team.  I’ve never played soccer but the seven kids on the team don’t care.  They just want to run around, kick the ball, have fun and chase me at the end of practices and games.  Their attitude is so infectious…their smiles, giggles, laughs…their running around, falling down, exultation at kicking the ball into the net helps remind me what life is all about.  We can choose to be grumpy, forlorn, down-in-the-dumps OR we can be joyous, hopeful, energetic and have a smile on our face.  It doesn’t mean our lives are perfect or that we don’t have our particular challenges or issues, but we choose to live with this underlying attitude of joy.  We can choose to accept to live a life of incredible blessing.  I remember playing basketball in grammar school and if the Bears lost a game, Coach Farnesi would come to practices on Monday in a bad mood.  Even if our team had won, it didn’t matter.  If the Bears lost, that meant we were running and running a lot. I never understand that.  We choose our attitudes!
 
This is I think what Paul meant when he wrote the church at Ephesus: “Blessed be the Maker of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Before the world began, God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless and to be full of love” (1:3-4).  Simply said, you are blessed! Wherever you go you will leave a flavor or attitude. Life can be boring and sad, solemn and forlorn – OR – it can be filled with life and zest, adventure and joy. You are the difference! Leave your mark, your blessing, and flavor the world!
 
 
As I write this blog I am looking out my office window at the beautiful landscape of the mounds off in the distance while listening to Linda Seeley’s recently recorded “Pure Joy” CD.  I am reminded of the numerous blessings that always surround me at any given moment.  We sadly often choose to see the negative side of things, the cup as half empty and be conveyors of pessimism and bad news or just not see the blessings that surround us.  Sometimes I think church is often full of people who too easily find life burdensome just like the character Eyore from Winnie the Pooh. The short story I shared above is a reminder we need to be like the cashier in the store choosing to be an agent of joy and blessing.  And when we do exactly that, it’s contagious just like the sign of peace we share at worship at BLC to the tune of “Old Church Choir.”
 
We can make a difference in the lives of others by simply being agents of joy.  We can share our blessings with others.  Blessings, or the promises of God, are meant to be given away and not hoarded.  Our attitudes are contagious.  What do you want to pass on to others?  What do you want your mark to be in this world?  As we move into September and the busy-ness of another school year try to remember this each day.
 
As you rise from sleep make this your prayer: 
 
Lord help me to bring the blessing of your kingdom to this day. Whoever I meet today may they be touched by my attitude and changed by meeting me. Let me bring more joy to this world. Help me to laugh easily and love freely. Help me to be generous and kind, understanding and accepting. Use me as your instrument O Lord!
 
Amen. 
 
~PJ

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