Friday, April 11, 2014

Inspired?

I've heard that the two greatest influences you'll have in your life are the books you read and the people you meet. These two factors will shape and direct the path you take far more than you might think.

I have the privilege of knowing a host of remarkable people. People who have passion, people with convictions, and people who are accomplishing great things. It's nothing short of breathtaking to watch God's plans unfold in the lives of others. It is inspiring.

I got to thinking about what inspires. What characterisitics, what qualities inspire me and others?
 
I thought I'd ask some people 1. Who has inspired you? and 2. What particular characteristics inspire you?
Here are the answers I received:


 
Kelsey D ~
 
My dad is one of the hardest working people I know. He's a tractor mechanic and a farmer. He does what he loves and has shared the joy of following your dreams with me. He is true to himself. He doesn't do things because others think he should, he does what brings him joy and fulfillment. He is willing to help a customer even if it means working past his 5 o'clock quit time. He has inspired me to stay true to myself. He has supported me even when the path isn't exactly something he would choose for himself. I think he has been an inspiration by allowing me to pursue my own dreams and trusting that I will see the potential I have within myself and live up to it.
 
Supportive, self-sacrificing.

Carrie B ~

My dad and mom have been huge inspirations to me. Neither had good childhoods; my dad was raised in an orphanage and my mom went back and forth between her mother and stepfather, and father and stepmother - both abusive situations. They both joined the Air Force as young adults, and came to know Jesus Christ during this time. They met as young Christians, married, and chose to raise their own children to know, love, and live for God. Their story inspires me because of all of the hardship that they have come through. Neither of them had a good example of a strong Christian father or mother in their lives, in fact, their own experiences were quite the opposite. They both have good reason to cling to the past and allow the bitterness and resentment to shape, even destroy their lives. But when I think of my parents, I see the perfect picture of God’s grace. He saved them from their sin and a past filled with pain, and gave them a life they had never known, filled with love and hope. They became the parents that they didn’t have, and chose to pass the hope they found on to my sisters and me.

Real, honest, patient, humble.

Cassidy E ~

When I think about who has inspired me, my Memaw immediately jumps to the top of my list. Memaw is my maternal grandmother. One way that she inspires me is with her selflessness.  She is constantly thinking of the needs of others before herself. She is always giving of her time and resources to help whomever needs it; especially with her family. Her church family knows to call on her and my grandfather (Papaw) whenever they need extra hands to pitch in. They rarely say no when asked to help out. When I am selfish with my time and energy, she inspires me to keep on giving.  I don't know how she constantly says "yes" to everything that is asked of her, but she always does so with a smile. 

Selfless, strong, encouraging.

Annette D ~
 
My dear friend, Barbara Meyer, is a woman I've admired for years. We've been friends for probably eighteen years. She is twenty years older than me, and consequently, I consider her both a friend and kind of a second mother. We share a lot in common, much of it concerning challenges we've faced with our children. She has understood more than anyone else, the agonies and anxieties I have experienced with my daughter, and she has helped me to better cope with them. She is also one of the most caring, generous women I know - always giving of her time, energy and resources, even when she has to ignore her physical pain and limitations in order to do so. I believe she is the closest to being a saint here on Earth that I have ever met! She is a wonderful Christian woman, with an unwavering faith. She has provided me with good advice, endless encouragement and has loved me like another daughter. I am blessed beyond measure to call her my precious friend!

Generosity, selflessness, compassion.Although these answers are all unique to the people who wrote them, there seems to be a common theme among them. People who think of others before themselves, people who care, people who give in more ways than one, people who lift others up, people who put effort in even when it's difficult, people who go above and beyond what they have to do and instead give, and give, and give. These people inspire.

When I think of the people who inspire me, it's a very long list, but I'm going to touch on a few:

My grandfather inspired me. His ability to listen to what a person really had to say was incomparable. He had a quiet way about him, but when he spoke, he spoke with dignity and knowledge. He studied medicine and art his entire life. He knew about plants, animals, and people. He was a doctor. He was a plastic surgeon who could fix someone's nose, but who was also able to reconstruct a woman's face when it was broken by a fist. He was intelligent, dignified, and loving. He made me want to be a better person.
 
I am inspired by the mom of five who homeschools and takes in foster babies regardless of the sadness and difficulty. She is gracious, always willing to answer a question, always striving to do God's will. I am struck by her strength and tenacity. She is a pillar. She gives these babies a safe place to be, filled with comfort and God's love. She prays over them and always trusts. Not only is she helping those little babies, but she is inspiring others to do what she is doing. 

I am inspired by the woman who led my high school bible study, and later the M.O.P.S. bible study I was in. She is open, and honest, loving, encouraging, and approachable. She never judges. She has always been kind and compassionate to everyone. She has always been honest about her struggles. She has made me feel loved in a time when I felt unlovable. She is supportive and gentle to others to a fault. Her ability to make other people feel at home and comfortable is a quality that I admire and love. She inspires me.

We are often told we deserve things. We are told that we should have a good life. We are encouraged to do what makes us "feel" good. In the midst of all this there are still people who put their own comfort aside to do for others and to administer to the needs of those who are suffering. There are people who choose to have an optimistic attitude even when circumstances are bleak - giving other people a brighter picture. There are people who let you in on their lives regardless of how messy and disorganized it can appear with a shrug of their shoulders and a cheerful "Welcome!" These people inspire. 

God gives us all the ability to inspire. We don't necessarily have to do something big in order to make a difference to someone else. With just a little extra effort we can touch the lives of others with our strength, our compassion, our honesty, or our support.

When I think of characteristics that inspire me these come to mind: loving, passionate, persistent, humble, kind, willing, and philanthropic. 


"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10



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