For those who don't know, Vision4Life is a program Concordia does every year, where we split up into guy/girl groups, then go out and serve somewhere for a day. While the guys are serving, the girls stay at CA and hear some messages, have worship time, and play games that require teamwork and cooperation. The next day, we switch, and the girls go out and serve while the guys stay at CA.
Then, on Thursday we have an extended chapel, in which we have an open-mic session, meaning anyone who wants to can go up and speak about something God has done in their life, or hard times they've gone through, things they've learned in the past two days, or shout-outs to people they appreciate.
I ended up going up to the mic first, and I said something that, quite unintentionally, helped to set the stage for the rest of those who were led to speak.
Basically, I briefly covered three things that I have found to be of paramount importance. They are, in short, Know thyself, know others, and know thy God.
The first one is "know thyself" from the ancient Greek saying, "gnothi seauton". You have to know who you are, and more importantly, why you are who you are. Examine the things you do, and figure out why you do them. This doesn't mean you second guess yourself, but try to know. Why did I get angry at that thing? Why did I respond with sarcasm? Why do I avoid certain people? Why am I afraid of what people think?
Don't be harsh on yourself, just try and honestly answer those questions. Do you respond with sarcasm because it's simply funny (that is a valid possibility!)? Did you get offended by that comment because it was actually cruel? Do you fear what people think because you wish to be the best you can be, or could it be that you've never known acceptance?
If you know yourself, then you can begin to change yourself, and shape yourself into the person God wants you to be. If you leave these questions unanswered, then you'll be trying to build a house without knowing what the foundation is made of. You might even end a sentence with a preposition.
This comes next, because it flows right out of knowing yourself. Take those same questions that you asked yourself, and apply them to others. Is someone loud and obnoxious? Maybe think about if they've gone through intensely difficult times, and are trying to find a way to cope. Does someone always look at the negative side? Maybe they've been continually disappointed, and fear having their hopes dashed one more time.
Now, you shouldn't assume you know the answers to these questions unless you've heard the person themselves confirm them. Your reactions to different experiences can certainly give you insight into why others might act the way they do, but two people's experiences are never exactly the same.
The key is that you ask the question, at least in your own head (it may be slightly rude to go up to someone and ask, "Hey do you do x because you've been terribly hurt?"). If you ask the question, you will find it much more difficult to judge that person. And, if you end up knowing them more deeply, then you will be able to truly love them much more easily.
Jesus commanded us to love one another as ourselves. If we can seek to truly understand other people, then we can truly begin to love one another. To love someone, you don't technically have to know them, but if you do know them, then you can discern how to love them best. If they are antisocial because they simply like having time alone, then you might love that person differently than someone who is antisocial because they've been hurt.
Know thy God can wait until next post -- as the most important part of the list, it deserves a bit more.
Song of the day: Start Somewhere by TobyMac