“You’re the best winners we’ve ever played!” An enthusiastic middle school boy said this to me recently at a retreat. Our teams had played this crazy version of capture the flag, and we won. The students on our team were competitive, but kind when we won by a landslide. As one of their leaders, I was proud of my students for being gracious and thoughtful toward others. So proud in fact, that I’ve retold this story multiple times since that day. The story stayed with me because we have awesome students in our youth group, but also because of the HUGE smile on the boy's face when he congratulated us. It will take me a while to forget that moment.
You see, I’m super competitive. When I lose at something I’m invested in, I tend to have a bad attitude. It’s not one of my finer qualities, but it’s the truth. It would have been easier for me to understand if this had boy walked away unhappy. Instead, he was grinning from ear to ear. I’m sure he wasn’t happy about losing, but he walked away with a good experience because of the attitudes of the others on the field.
The more I’ve thought about this story, the more I feel challenged about my own attitude. When then? Do I reflect Christ even when things aren’t going my way?
The truth is that our attitudes impact others around us for the good or the bad and there is no way around that. If we care about the effect we have on others, we have to constantly check our attitudes and make sure that we are being Christ-like in everything we say and do. More often than not, this is easier said than done. Life is hard! Complaining or being negative is easier sometimes (most of the time) than focusing on the positive.
As God’s children, He asks us to be different than the rest of the world. He asks us to do things that are usually pretty hard. I strongly believe that God never asks us to do something that He won’t give us the strength to accomplish. God wants to renew our minds as we follow Him and try to honor Him. God wants to help us. With God’s strength, we are able to have a beautiful attitude under great amounts of pressure.
I’m not suggesting that we put on a fake smile and pretend like our lives are perfect. Most people can spot a fake from a mile away. We need to give God the room to make us into women who increase in love for others when we face difficult times. That is what beauty under pressure is all about. Depending on God for our joy and our peace regardless of what life brings.
Each of us has a choice, every day. Will I allow my life circumstances to make me into a loving, gracious, kind-hearted woman? Or, will I become a harsh, bitter, hard-hearted, woman?
Instead of trying to be strong on our own let’s take the time to ask God for His help. Let’s not be afraid to ask each other for help too. No matter what stage of life you find yourself in, this is a place where we can all start. When we admit that we aren’t good enough on our own, that’s when God can step in and give us His strength.