"Does that make me a better person?"
That is a question a friend posed the other day in relation to something we were talking about. They were referring to something that always either made them frustrated or made them sarcastic and mocking, so posed the question, and considered cutting it out of their life. And the concept has stuck with me all week.
We had a divisional youth fellowship earlier in the month and part of it involved group discussions. One of the questions that came up was "What is the Salvation Army to you?" (It was along those lines at least – I'd look at my actual bit of paper but it's packed up in a box in the garage of my new house!) I don't think I said much at the time – other than an eye roll, a sarcastic look and a chuckle. But it's something I keep coming back to. It does occupy a considerable part of my weekly schedule – 2 hours on a Wednesday for Songsters, 2 hours on a Friday for band, another hour for kids club, and roughly 5 hours on a Sunday if we have 2 meetings/a second activity. Plus another 4 hours a month for divisional youth band and chorus, as well other events and concerts throughout the year. Oh and the ten weeks of my life I've spent at summer schools.
So, what does it mean to me? Is it just a church? Is it my church? Is it just a place I go to out of routine? Is it somewhere I go enthusiastically, or begrudgingly? Do I go to really meet with God, and/or to spend time worshipping him? Do I go because I want to? Do I go to find out more about God? Do I go because I want to meet with and spend time with other Christian's? Am I engaged and connected when I go there? Or am I there out of duty? What kind of person am I when I'm there? Does it make me a better person?
I'm not going to answer those questions just now – maybe at some point – but I'm not sure the answers would necessarily be what is expected or required. Actually, I'm not even sure the answers would be static – I think they'd change depending on my mood and on recent or specific situations and experiences.
It makes me think though, and consider how it impacts me and my life, and I suppose in turn, how I impact it. How about doing that with your whole life though? Looking at everything you do, everything you take part in, even everyone you spend time with and interact with – do all of those things and all of those people make you a better person? Do they – the situations or places or the people – add anything beneficial to your life? (Not just in terms of fun/enjoyment/inspiration/encouragement/positivity etc. etc…but potentially in terms of challenge or teaching you things too I guess?) Do you add anything beneficial to theirs? Could you?
How about on social media? Regardless of how many people on your Friends list are actually your real friends, you can influence them, and they will be impacting and influencing you. So, is it a positive or negative influence? And if it's negative, why? And what can you do about that? If it's on your end, fix it. Sort out your attitude or online behaviour, and make it better. Be kinder, or more generous, or more patient or accepting or whatever it takes, do it. And if it's not, then take some action. Speak up, talk to them, or remove them as a 'friend' if you need to. Block them on twitter or snapchat. Why have that negative or distructive or detrimental influence, when you can change it or remove it?
I think it's an interesting way to look at things, whether that's all the time, or when sporadically taking check of where you're at and how your life is doing. Because I think we should always be trying to better ourselves. Whether from a Christian viewpoint or otherwise – nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes and we all get things wrong, sometimes even when the intentions are correct. So bettering ourselves – whether to be more like Jesus(?!) or just to be a better version of yourself for your own sake and for the sake of those around you, seems like a noble and worthwhile task.
A task which can be way easier said than done…