The Recommendation

The Recommendation

Raise your hand if you’re the type of person who is always looking for recommendations!  Now…keep your hand up if you’re one of the sweet souls, who leave recommendations for restaurants, movies, hotels ... you name it. Now look up and see if you’re actually raising your hand… [insert the laughing emoji]  Sorry once a teacher – always a teacher…I truly couldn’t help it. PS if you happen to be one of those sweet souls who leaves recommendations- thank you, you have saved me from dirty hotel rooms and encouraged me to try the appropriately named, strange looking, corn ice cream [which was delicious by the way]! But my husband and I seriously have very strong views on recommendations. We truly believe that if someone leaves a recommendation, they either really love something or really despise it! [We’re not allowed to use the H word in my house, or we’ll get in trouble with our six year old.] Groundbreaking I know! But if you seriously think about it, most people who leave reviews really love something… they love it so much they want to share it with the world… or if it’s truly the worst… They leave a review to let others know, and usually let out some of their anger and aggression for having to endure such a terrible plate of nachos. My husband and I often think about recommendations as something silly [even though we often check them before venturing out somewhere new] because we realized the recommendation is not just solely based on if something is good or bad, the recommendation could be based on someone else's preferences and past experiences.

So for example if you go out to a restaurant and the person at the table next to you has the exact same waitress, orders the exact same meal, both of which are cooked by the exact same chef, and prepared by the exact same sous chef. Now based on your past, your experiences, preferences, tastes, likes and dislikes, you can have totally different reviews of the exact same dish. You see, my family did not eat spicy food. Most people would say my family did not even eat flavorful food. [Sorry Mom…I still LOVE your cooking… regardless of what your other kids say… JUST KIDDING]. I distinctly remember the very first time I ate a taco. I had no idea what this amazing miracle was that I was eating. I begged my parents to take me to the same place to get a taco again. The only reason we went back and I was able to get a taco was because it was one of those fancy restaurants that was attached to a Long John Silvers and it had plenty of options for the rest of my family. [Yep, my very first taco was from Taco Bell. If you live in the South or you are Latin, please do not judge me or my family, this is an area of shame for all of us] Sometimes your review of something also could change based on your current experiences. So as you know, I have read along for sometime now, I have some health problems, and one of my health problems is deals with inflammation- and i’ve found that the inflammation in my body is much worse when I intake too much sodium- so due to that fact, I eat little to no added salt on my food. So if I go out to a restaurant and the food is probably just salted to the normal amount, it tastes very salty to me. Trust me, I am ridiculed by my family so much that I have a regular ketchup and a low sodium ketchup. Feeding others can be tricky. I’d rather order a pizza! Raise your hand if you’re with me….[see what I did there]

So it’s not just my past, but also my current situation that makes up my lists of likes and dislikes. It’s not just one specific experience that makes up our recommendations or reviews, it's our past, and our life experiences. It’s our current experiences. It's a situation that we may face every single day. I was thinking about this idea of recommendations and how it related to Jesus. My dad would often say we needed to be Jesus with skin. As christians we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We need to love like Jesus loved, give like Jesus gave. We need to be full of grace, quick to lend a hand and slow to anger. We need to speak life, hold the door, and return our shopping carts. We need to forgive and obey. Help the poor, the lonely, the lost.  We need to think WWJD… what would Jesus do?! We need to be the best versions of ourselves every day- because as christians we are a living recommendation for God. BUT… it’s NOT that simple. We are human. We are Saved by God’s grace and unfailing love… not though anyworks of our own. We are saved because he loves us… not because we are perfect. 

But if I'm being truly honest… This is something that I have always struggled with. I realize this idea of recommendations and reviews can be so closely related to how people view heaven. Each day “we” go out declaring to be Christians- but if there’s that split second that we don’t act like a Christian… that always seems to be the second that others are watching. Oh come on… you know what I’m talking about. The split second when you slam your hand in the car door, have been cut off in traffic, and then you get an alert that your bank account was hacked again- all before 9:30 AM ... Some days you just snap. Some days you just don’t sound- act- love- look- forgive- honor- fill in the blank…. like a Christian. 

That is where grace comes in. Seriously, nothing is greater than God’s amazing grace! Grace is the blanket we so desperately desire on the cold nights. It’s the water that quenches the most intense thirst- from a well that never runs dry. God gives us grace in those moments when we aren’t living out our best “What Would Jesus Do” lives. We need to give ourselves grace when we inevitably screw up… because sweet friends we all will from time to time… reminding ourselves that God loves us no matter what! And the good news is that if there is still breath in our lungs we have another chance to be the metaphorical “Jesus with skin on”. And lastly, we need to pray that others will grant us grace… and know that even though we are christians we are imperfect- unlike our Heavenly Father who is perfect. Jesus told us in Mark 2:17 “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Our heavenly Father does not expect us to be the picture of perfection all the time. But he does expect us to do our best every day to follow and obey his commands. To love the Lord our God, love our neighbor as ourselves [not just the neighbors with green grass if ya know what I mean]. He expects us to give without hesitation, comfort those in need, share his love and light everywhere we go making disciples because we are called to be fishers of men [women and children]. Because we are loved, saved and redeemed- we should be expected to own up to those times when we aren’t giving the best recommendation of God, we should be the ones to apologize first and forgive when it hurts. Because God has given us such grace- we need to extend it to those around us. [Forgiveness and extending grace does not excuse or condone poor behavior, pain and abuse- and does not mean anyone should tolerate or accept it just because they have extended God’s grace] 

So my sweet friends, that is my call to action this week. Even when it’s hard- if more people made a true conscious effort to stop and think ‘What WOULD Jesus Do?’- we may be leaving a much better recommendation of our Heavenly Father.  

*If you are looking for an additional funny story… read this → I was in the middle of polishing up this very blog post and I had to leave the office to pick up my son from Vacation Bible School- what he calls Church Camp… and according to him…it is the best place ever, but the only problem is that it is too short. Since I’m a cool mom, I decided nothing screams summer like skipping lunch and grabbing a sweet cold treat. About 10 brain freezes, 8 silly pictures and one very blue tongue later we left.  As we left the parking lot we had to navigate some construction and make a u-turn [trust me they are legal in the state we live in]. Apparently… I was not driving fast enough and a fellow driver decided to lay on their horn… and then slowly and quite exaggeratedly gave us a very specific finger.  Luckily I had just been working on this blog post and remembered to keep my cool and laughed thinking “well.. What WOULD Jesus Do?”, possibly what the penguins from Madagascar infamously said? “Smile and wave boys… smile and wave!”- when my thought process was interrupted by the cutest little six year old who also happens to be missing two front teeth. He said “I wouldn’t want to be mean or anything, but I should have said, I’m sorry we’re driving slow, it’s a bumpy road, not to be mean or anything, but you don’t need to honk, let’s just all be nice, am I right Mama?”. Maybe we need to try to see things from the eyes of a child. “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.”- Matthew 18:1-4

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