My energetic, youthful body is like the words of the song “The Old Gray Mare” — I “ain’t what [I] used to be.”  But so it goes. At least my mind is still intact (although my children sometimes seem concerned for their mother’s well being, when I ask the same question for the third time, or lose my glasses — again — that are perched atop my head.)

The spirit within me is well, and growing in understanding.  I have an increasing desire to affect more good in this world, and be better prepared for the world to come.

I have had my share of sadness over behaving in less than a stellar manner, and have mourned for mistakes made, words uttered that should have been kept to myself, and attitudes that were at times less than positive.

Hopefully, I am getting better at being the kind of person I desire to be. It has required many changes through the years as I have come to know things differently, accept certain realities, and recognize weakness. Along the way, life has become more joyful, even though life has many less-than-joyful offerings. It also has a closet full of dark, hurtful things and disasters that are both natural and manmade.

Devastating News Report

Last week, a precious little girl at the tender age of seven was murdered in the Salt Lake Valley. The news reports caused me to choke up, and I hurt for the family of that beautiful little one.

Reporters said that parents in the neighborhood seemed to be holding their children a little closer, and one anchorperson noted that all of us would probably want to show increased kindness toward our loved ones. Her point seemed to be that knowing what happened in our valley, our feelings and actions would shift.

What we know changes how we feel.

How we feel changes how we act.

How we act changes the way our little portion of the world operates.

Or, perhaps it changes us enough that we can better operate within our portion of this world.

Like a ray of sunshine in a dark storm, reports of kindness and tenderness extended to that bereft family gave a glimmer of hope. Those close by learned, sorted through their feelings, and then acted in appropriately loving ways. It changed their schedules, their thoughts, their desires for that day and for days to follow.

How do changes in our circumstances, or the vicarious experience of others, allow us to change ourselves for the better?

Wake-up Call

In truth, there are many things that we can do nothing about. Learning of devastating circumstances in others’ lives can often only be a wake-up call for us to pay a little more attention on our sphere. Good and bad combine together, offering us opportunities to make needed changes.

I learned a great deal from a young man whose father had been an angry and hurtful man. His turmoil had been about making a decision to keep the last name he inherited rather than change it to make a distance from his father. He said, “I thought a lot about changing my last name, but I have decided that I will keep it, and make something good with this name.”

He had determined to be the change in a tough and hurtful situation.

Thinking back, we can readily identify some changes in our lives. Our attitudes, circumstances, bodies and perceptions shift as time goes on. Wisdom allows changes within.

A poem written by Brian Tracy gifts us with some clear thoughts on how to change things that matter:

Change Your World

You cannot change the world,
But you can present the world with one improved person —
You can go to work on yourself to make yourself
Into the kind of person you admire and respect.
You can become a role model and set a standard for others.
You can control and discipline yourself to resist acting
or speaking in a negative way
Toward anyone for any reason.
You can insist upon always doing things the loving way,
Rather than the hurtful way.
By doing these things each day,
You can continue on your journey
Toward becoming an exceptional human being.

And, we could add, toward becoming more like Christ.

He, one solitary man, changed this world forever.  He accepted and loved others. He listened. He spoke with love. He was disciplined and obedient. He was exceptional in every way. He showed us a divine pattern of knowing, feeling, and acting so that the world may be a better place in which to live.

Ours is not to carry such a load, nor bear such burdens as He. But by working continually on the things we learn, the way we feel, and the way we act, our world becomes more exceptional as we add to it, and glean from it.

We will continue to change our view of some things, shift our feelings here and there, and note alterations in the mind, heart, and body. Along the way, we can be the change that matters.