After finishing a keynote speech for a conference this past week in Dallas Texas I asked the same question I always do: “Does Anyone have any questions?” I love “Q & A”. After spilling my heart out for 45 minutes I love to hear what questions they have. The questions the audience often ask create a really good conversation that we otherwise never would’ve had as a group. It’s my favorite part of speaking most of the time.
But not this time. This group was a little different group I’m used to speaking too. I usually dont speak to high schoolers. Most of the time its college students or entrepreneurs. These high schoolers I was speaking to were hand selected by an amazing non-profit organization who wants to help high schoolers who have had rough child hoods or living conditions. Some of them were homeless, in foster care or something of that nature. One kid told me her parents were on meth. I think you get the idea.
So, at the end of the speech I asked what I always do: “Anyone have any questions?”. I expected some heart felt soul searching questions that I usually get. A kid raised his hand and asked “Did you skip Leg Day?”. I was very confused at first. I was wearing pants, not shorts and it had nothing to do with anything I said. I said “Excuse me?”. The kid repeated question but said “Your arms are huge but your legs are really small. Did you skip leg day?”.
Of course, the other students laughed and my expectation of creating real heart-searching conversations vanished and my pride completely gone. I’m laughing while writing this again. The kid was quite clever.
My first instinct was to come back with a witty comment, maybe even scold him in front of his classmates. Maybe turn the table on him and call him out. I thought about it briefly in those two seconds. It’s amazing how much thinking we can get done in 2 seconds. But I remembered what the CEO said earlier about the students and their background of hurting. I immediately stopped my focus on myself and my pride. I started thinking about the student and his heart.
I thought about what his past was probably like. I thought about why he was seeking attention by humor and at the expenses of others. I mean I used to do it and still can.
I remembered something I learned a while ago.
“Only love can do what hate wishes it could”
I decided I wanted to bring the opposite spirit into the situation. Where there was hurt I wanted to bring acceptance and love. I wanted to meet him where he was at. I decided in that moment I had the privilege to respond to him in a way he probably has never been responded to. I mean, think about it. When have hurt, insults, or rude comments ever been countered with love and acceptance in their life? I’m guessing probably never. What about you? Have you ever started a conversation with anger, hurt, frustration or an attempt to make fun of somebody only to be met with love, acceptance and grace? I have. And I’ll tell you what, it’s an absolute environment changer. When we bring the opposite spirit (Grace & Love instead of Anger/Getting offended) we are literally changing the environment we are in. It’s amazing.
Hurt people hurt people. Happy people don’t hurt people.
Hurt comes in many forms: sarcasm, hurtful jokes, targeting certain types of people, getting offended easily, passive behavior etc..
Often, we are throwing stones at people in our minds that we are secretly throwing at others. For example, I can throw stones at others that aren’t perfect because secretly (or not so secretly) I believe I need to be perfect myself.
Often, I see that I can judge people the way I judge myself. Harshly and unfairly.
So, my questions to you is this:
Where do you see yourself throwing stones at people that you are secretly throwing at yourself? (Looks, behavior wise, life choices etc.)
How can you bring the opposite spirit in situations to change the atmosphere in your circle of influence? In other words, how can you bring love, grace & acceptance to others around you?
Often when we are offended it has more to do with what’s going on in our hearts than what that person is actually saying or doing. Why are those words/actions offending you so much?
And way more importantly, what is being offended by that (those words, actions towards) showing YOU about your heart?
(I’ll give you a hint. The answer isn’t that you’re right or have a better way. )
What is your next step in all this? Something you can do today to bring yourself into greater freedom, peace and purpose in your life.
I don’t know about you but I don’t want to get offended easily. Not anymore at least. I don’t want to be another hurt person who just wants to hurt people in return. I want to change the environment wherever I go. I want to bring the opposite spirit.