Thinking Out Loud with Dr. Cheryl

Character Building Moments

One day a child asked her mother for help to pick out clothes to wear to school. The daughter’s closet was jam packed with every type of outfit imaginable. Her mother started making suggestions as to the articles of clothing she thought her daughter should wear. Every suggestion was met with a curled up nose and a wrinkled mouth.

Her mother then started to help her little girl try on various pieces of clothing, as hopefully this would assist with her decision making process. As her daughter tried on item after item after item, the child’s once kind, gentle words were becoming more and more rushed and demanding in tone. The young child was also becoming less and less patient and gentle with the articles of clothing, as she tore them off and flung them on her bed.

Exasperated, the girl stomped her feet, her face went beet red, and she yelled out loud, “I have nothing to wear!”

Her mother quickly turned on her heels and exited the room. The mother decided not to allow her feelings to overtake her. Instead, she exercised self-control by walking down the stairs into the kitchen. The mom also decided to speak to her daughter much later in the day, as this situation had to be discussed, however, time was needed so both could cool off.

After five minutes had gone by, her daughter appeared at the breakfast table, all dressed and ready to eat! The outfit that she was wearing did not resemble any of the recommendations that her mom had previously made. Her precious child gave her a mischievous look, turned up the corners of her mouth and burst into laughter!

The mom had two choices, to be impatient and unkind towards her daughter or to congratulate her for getting herself dressed. The mom chose the second option, as the mom had decided long ago to be a woman who clothes herself in virtuous outfits, daily putting on the character of Christ.

Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation? What choices did you make? Were you able to walk away and regain your composure? What behaviours did you model for others around you? Did the story end the way this story did?

In the following scripture, Paul is writing to the First-century Christians in Colosse. They had become confused, as they were placing an increased emphasis on man-made rules, instead of the holy laws of God. Paul reminded them, and all of us, about God’s divine instructions.

“You have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (Colossians 3:9-10 NIV). “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NIV).

When we focus too much on rules, regulations and rights, our focus is often on the wrong things. Unnecessary rules often make us uptight and say and do things that we would normally not say or do. The mother in the story could have focused on the rules of the situation instead of the outcome of the situation, which was that her daughter did eventually dress herself and get ready to go to school. Of course the mom did follow-up much later by discussing with her daughter how she should have reacted under the circumstances and that getting dressed and ready for school did not require such a dramatic display. In fact the mom set in motion a plan where her daughter would pick out her school outfit the night before, so that this negative pattern of behavior could be erased, yet still allowing the daughter to choose her outfits. The mom was practicing patience and compassion with her daughter, instead of focusing on the rules and regulations that had clouded the moment and could have clouded the outcome.

Do you ever feel as if there are too many rules in your life and that these rules are causing confusion? Do you over react with simple solution situations by imposing rules and regulations instead of clothing yourself in kindness and compassion, thus allowing a spirit of problem solving to take precedence? By dying on the cross, Christ brought us hope, freeing us from the bondage of man-made rules that are often imposed due to our human nature as we insist upon norms and beliefs that are often habitual patterns of behavior and do not offer a viable, reasonable solution. The important truths are found in the Bible, which is the written word of God. I encourage you to daily follow the teachings of Christ and clothe yourself in the virtuous character of Christ. If you decide to chose, on a daily basis, to clothe yourself in virtuous behavior, as Paul was instructing the church at Colosse to do, all the rest will fall into place.