I workout on a regular basis and, while I’m exercising, I have a physical checklist that my mind runs through automatically every few minutes. Are my shoulders back and relaxed? Are my face and upper extremities relaxed? Is my core engaged? Big inhale, big exhale. Over and over and over this routine runs on quick repeat for the duration of my session.
Sometimes I don’t even have to think about it, but will find myself in the middle of relaxing my upper body without my even knowing when it started. Occasionally, the checklist will run when I’m at work or on an airplane. Are my shoulders back and relaxed? Are my face and upper extremities relaxed? Is my core engaged? Big inhale, big exhale.
Eventually, I began to wonder if I needed checklists for other activities. Work? Friends? Facebook? I reviewed multiple areas of my life, and what jumped out at me most was my speech. A pastor once taught me that before we say anything, we should ask ourselves, “It is true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” If a statement does not match these three criteria, then we should keep it to ourselves and offer up something more verbally constructive.
Colossians 3:12-14 (ESV): Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Using more than just words and instead incorporating the attributes listed in the verses above, I’m trying to institute a spiritual checklist that will, hopefully, begin to occur automatically in my brain without me having to initiate it. Am I demonstrating compassion and kindness? Does this reflect humility? Am I forgiving immediately and moving on?
I visualize a myriad of uses for this checklist: in traffic, in a long line at the grocery store, or when feeling anger based on an inflammatory social media post. Who I am in the moments of frustration is part of who I am in total.
Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Who do I want to be?
Am I demonstrating compassion and kindness? Does this reflect humility? Am I forgiving immediately and moving on?