Steps to a better 2019

Published 10:04 am Monday, January 7, 2019

by Nathan Decker

“There are two ways to rise; you can treat people as rungs on a ladder, or you can allow them to lift you up through you being a great human being.” 

– Mrs. Jo Kay Smith, my high school English teacher

The old year passes, but will the bad habits? As we change calendars we tend to pause and reflect about the past that was, and the possibilities for the future. The hangover of last year becomes the cheerful hope for the next year. We make resolutions.

We promise to be better human beings. We tell ourselves that we will change. And, I honestly hope so.

Let’s be honest, we were not nice to one another in 2018. Through the news, social media and our leaders we acted as if we were spoiled and entitled. Our views and opinions mattered more than others. People who disagreed with our stance didn’t deserve to promote their own.

On our way to progress and power we stepped on people. 

It doesn’t have to be this way in 2019. Instead of squashing one another as a way of self-promotion, we could do the very opposite. What if we stepped down off our high horse and lifted one another up? What if we tried hard to see God in one another, and treat each other the way we would treat Jesus?

I excelled in school academically. I didn’t have the difficulty others experienced reading Shakespeare or putting my thoughts into an essay formal or informal. But some did.

I wasn’t very helpful to them, however. I would make noises tapping my pencil like a drum. I spent time making paperclips and the rubber bands off my friend’s braces into miniature bows for my spit wad arrows. In retribution, I often was the target of names, insults, fights and dodge balls. I failed miserably socially.

My teacher, Mrs. Smith took me aside one day to ask me why I was wasting what God had given me.

“There are two ways to rise…” she began. While I knew all my classmates, she challenged me to see them as human and to help them. Against my own objections, the next time I had all that spare time after completing an assignment, I looked around and asked if anyone needed help.

Thomas said yes. We were good friends, so that was pretty easy. But then, so did Nicole, Bruce and Mitchell. It wasn’t so easy helping them edit papers or understand the significance of Macbeth’s soliloquy. But Mrs. Smith’s voice was stuck in my head. 

Slowly things changed. I got hit with less dodge balls, and I was no longer as socially awkward. 

In 2019, we have a chance to lift one another up. Each of us has been given power and gifts. When we share that which has been given, when we see one another as children of God, and when we seek the benefit of all rather than the few — we find that all ships rise on the tide of love.

Lift up your co-worker. Lift up your spouse. Lift up those to whom you look at with a wary eye. These are the steps to a better 2019. Lift up one another. After all, it’s what Jesus would do.

“Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill Christ’s teachings.”

— Galatians 6:2

NATHAN DECKER is the pastor of High Street United Methodist Church. Contact him at 562-3367.