You know those sappy internet memes that tell you how awesome you are and basically praise you for breathing? You don’t need those.
You know the ones …
“Has anyone told you yet today just how absolutely, positively, incredibly amazing you are?” You might have just kicked a dog, slammed a door in an elderly couple’s face, spilled coffee on a slick floor and left it there for someone else to clean up, run a red light and caused a wreck while you sped away, cursed out your kid’s teacher, and given a marijuana-laced glass of scotch to a three-year-old, but hey, an internet meme says your amazing … and so must you be!
The Sarcasm Monster that lives in my brain and usually just occupies my thoughts but now and then escapes through my mouth tends to have a response to those ‘inspiring’ quotes. The three quotes below are actual quotes I’ve seen online … followed by, shall we say, an alternate point of view.
“You know all the things you’ve always wanted to do in your life? You should do them.” Unless what you’ve really wanted to do is ‘relocate’ the Hope Diamond to your living room or get your own personal supply of Fort Knox souvenirs or take the new baby tiger home from the zoo. In those cases, you might want to re-evaluate what you’re considering for your bucket list.
“Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love you.” Unless being yourself means that you forgo bathing to the point that you become your own entomology host colony. Because then only your mother will love you. And even she might feel the need to do that at a distance.
“Life only comes around once. So do whatever makes you happy, and be with whoever makes you smile.” Unless what you want to do breaks municipal, state, and federal laws like, say, spraying graffiti on government buildings or scaling the outside of public monuments … and unless (a) the one who makes you smile is married to someone else (b) you are married to someone else.
If your own personal Snark Meter is in Take No Prisoners mode, which mine tends to be in more often than not, you might see right through those pithy feel-good sayings. And if you really have been a twirp or even a horrific human being and you know it, you might realize that those don’t fit you and how you’ve lived your life.
But here’s the good news. The past is called the past for a reason. No matter what you have done in the past, you – yes, you – can start today fresh. You might have some making up to do for wrongs you’ve done, but just because you’ve done wrong in the past doesn’t mean you have to continue that today. You might have over-eaten, under-eaten, cheated on your taxes or on various other people or things, lied, physically hurt someone, verbally hurt someone, or just have been taking out your sadness or crabbiness on everyone around you.
You don’t have to have been amazing in the past to be a better person now. You don’t have to wait until your life feels or seems perfect and awesome and everything that is good before you start pouring good into the world around you.
Today can be the day you – yes, you – offer the kind, encouraging word to your child or your spouse or your neighbor. Today can be the day you – yes, you – hold the door for the woman with the stroller and the grocery bags or for the elderly gentleman who probably needs a walker but whose pride won’t let him get there quite yet. The day when you take food to a shut-in or write a supportive letter to a pastor or a coach or a teacher. The day when you choose to think of others before you act on your thoughts for yourself. (That last one is a doozy for all of us, I know.)
All of that is within you, no matter your beliefs. And what a way to help the world a little at a time! But the Christ follower has a leg up, and that’s this: forgiveness for all that we’ve messed up in the past from the One who has the power and authority to forgive eternally; a clean slate for the road ahead from the One who knows we’ll continue to mess up again and again but who offers us other ways to walk the road; eternal life with God the Father.
That ‘you’? Yes, you are the ‘you’ in Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
You are the ‘you’ in Matthew 11:28-30 – “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
You are the ‘you’ He calls out to in the Scriptures. But here’s a secret for those of you who might not be Christ followers: He’s calling out to you, too. Are your ears clear enough to hear Him?
Toss aside the sappy internet memes and turn to Him. He tends to be a bit more on-point … and your Snark Meter / Sarcasm Monster can get that break it’s needed for a while.