There have been a lot of changes in the building complex where I live. People have moved out and their absence was noted. Units have been vacant for long periods and the silence made this place seem lonely. And then new people started moving in and the feeling of the place changed yet again.
Next door to me used to be a quiet young man. He waved if we were outside coming or going and we exchanged small talk. He shoveled my snow after the 3 day snow storm a few years ago, and I gave him a container of pea soup. He retaliated by giving me a container of chili. It was an easy, friendly relationship. But he was very quiet and kept to himself and so when he left it didn’t really make a whole lot of difference in my life.
Then a woman my age moved into that unit. She came with a cat and two dogs. She is always out walking the dogs and she loves to talk. She knows everyone who lives in our area. But the most notable thing about her…..is that she loves to laugh. Her giggles and laughs come in through the open windows and I often think how this housing unit has taken on a happier brighter note since she moved in.
A couple of weeks ago a new family moved in to the unit across the parking lot…..and the sound and the feel has changed yet again. They can’t seem to go from the door to the car without some sort of argument. Angry voices penetrate the silence. Curses are often heard. There is an air of tension that underlies their coming and going.
Who we are, and how we interact makes such a difference on our environment.
And so I have been reflecting on my own impact on my environment.
I have been that angry voice, breaking into the silence, shattering the peace. I’m not proud of those days, but they are a part of who I am. And sometimes there are days when the people I interact with push those buttons and I feel those emotions stirring within me. Fortunately I have grown up, grown in grace, and learned to live with love, but I know that angry person is still inside me. Hopefully in time, as I learn to walk closer and closer to God I will be able to say that she is gone, but until then, she is a reminder that God’s grace has worked much good in me.
I have also appeared to be that happy go lucky person, always laughing and cheerful. But in those days that laughter hid a lot of pain. The same pain that the anger was spewing. Being overly happy was my way of coping as I learned the new me that was emerging out of God’s love and warmth. I often wonder how much of what was behind the mask was visible to others.
Currently, I hope my impact on my environment is positive. I work from home, so I don’t get out much…Literally….and when I do get out, it is usually a work related event…. like meetings, or worship, or visiting seniors. Sometimes I feel isolated. Maybe that’s why I notice the sounds and feelings in my environment so much–simply because I am here so much.
And because I am so aware of how what is inside of us can affect the world around us, it is my prayer that in all things:
God’s grace will rule.
God’s peace will flow.
God’s love will shine.
My desire is to be the one through whom God fills the environment, and that is why I pray. Those prayers benefit me because I know that as God fills me and flows in me. His love has changed me and grown me over the years. But as he fills me and flows in me he also flows through me and out into the world.