War is not exceptional; peace is. Worry is not exceptional; trust is. Decay is not exceptional; restoration is. Anger is not exceptional; gratitude is. Selfishness is not exceptional; sacrifice is. Defensiveness is not exceptional; love is. And judgementalism is not exceptional…But grace is. – excerpt from Unoffendable
According to Merriam Webster, exceptional is defined as “deviating from the norm”. This deviation creates a divide that is so stark that it can rarely go unnoticed.
When I read those words in a book by Brant Hansen, I had to put the book down and just reflect on what he said. Many times as we watch the news and hear of all the terrible and heartbreaking events happening around the world, we immediately marvel at just how unimaginable it is. But, I began to question those reactions…
Is it really unimaginable to see nation’s against nation’s over people, places and things?
Is it really unimaginable that one American can hate and murder another American because of their differences? Is it really unimaginable that empathy is slowly being erased from the consciousness of humanity in favor of narcissism?
It is not…
But, what his statements challenged me to see were the amazingly passionate, loving and humble acts of every day people towards another that dispels all fear, hatred and pain. In the midst of the ashes of a wounded world, pockets of healing are emerging… Exceptional, undeniable healing of a hurting humanity. And then, I brought my perspective to a smaller level and asked the question, ‘Are YOU exceptional, Dawn?’
When someone offers you judgement, do you extend grace? When met with ignorance and hate, do you extend the opportunity to expand understanding? When hated, do you love? Those would be exceptional responses to everyday interactions…But would I choose to do it? Would my emotions, expectations and personal beliefs hinder me from responding exceptionally?
The answer is yes.
What I have recently realized is that when my mind is set on ‘me over you’ it is impossible to exist in a space of love and peace. I will always be in a state of war that is defensive, combative and untrusting.
Love and peace… Exceptional
War, combat, untrusting…The norm.
Breaking out of the norm will take daily, intentional actions. Here are 3 ways that I set my mind to chose being exceptional over normal:
Remain sober minded
I remind myself that my actions impact the people around me. This quick sanity check helps me to remain grounded and not elevate myself above another or lower myself beneath them. Each of those postures will manifest in my life in ways that are detrimental to my purpose and calling.
Remember who I am
Every morning, I look in the mirror and tell myself who I am before anyone else has the opportunity to do it. I affirm my value, purpose and necessity on this Earth and establish the truths that will be my foundation for the day. When I know who I am, the comments and opinions of others will not destroy my spirit. It will provide me the opportunity to respond in an exceptional manner than can diffuse all anger, hate and fear.
Know that I always have a choice
Realizing that every comment does not warrant my response keeps me in a position of power. Just because a person speaks words of hurt does not mean I need to respond to it verbally. I can choose to pray for the person. I can perform a random act of kindness for them knowingly or unknowingly. I can choose to not be offended and share love instead. I always have a choice, and so do you!
So, I challenge you to take the stance to live an exceptional life. Start with one day of choosing to respond in love no matter what anyone says or does. Then, extend it out to a week. Eventually, it will be a month later and you will have peace of mind like never before! Understand this – it is against the norm, which means opposition will appear. But, that is where choice comes in…And you always have a choice!
Choose wisely and Be EXCEPTIONAL!