I used to be the kind of person who was a stickler for rules. I could yell at the school kids with the best of them. I complained to store clerks and I was impatient if I waited too long in lines and I let people know about it. I never really thought of it this way, but looking back, I believe that I tried to be a nice person at church and myself the rest of the time. And myself wasn't a bad person, but she wasn't pretty sometimes.
The Holy Spirit worked at changing my heart over the years. I had some things happen that made me kinder in certain circumstances. I tried to be a good person. Sometimes the Holy Spirit gave me a nudge and I got better about certain things.
I can identify one instance that happened several years ago when I was a remedial reading teacher when I toppled over like a ton of bricks. I was wearing the retreat cross I had received to school everyday. A young lady who happened to be a foster child with a rather bad temper let loose on me over something. As I recall I didn't have a pencil to loan her that day. I wasn't in the wrong in this instance, but I made her mad. She started in on me about wearing the cross and being a Christian and not giving her a pencil.
It hit me. If this young lady noticed the cross I wore and put it together with being a Christian then others noticed too. And I had to ask myself--When I put on that cross each day was I putting on Christ? Sort of in the same way as the bracelets that ask--What would Jesus do? Was I with, in, and of Christ in every action of my day? What would that look like? Was that even do-able?
I tried to live that. I try to encourage, to uplift, to be friendly and patient and kind. I don't achieve it perfectly. On really bad days I pray and pray and pray to try to maintain that attitude. And to ask for forgiveness for all the times I fail. But I try and it has gotten easier. I will freely admit that being a librarian instead of a remedial reading teacher makes it easier too. I can still ask them to follow rules, but it is easier to be kind with children for 15 or 20 minutes than for an hour or more teaching a subject that they hate.
It is debatable, I suppose, whether we are all called to try to be positive and to spread love in the world as best we can. But, I know what I am called to do and how I am called to live. People tell me that I am patient, but it is God who is patient and kind and loves unconditionally. I just try to reflect that love i have received the best I am able. I consider the idea of a crabby Christian to be an oxymoron, an opposite.