In my institute lesson a few weeks we talked about INFLUENCE. I asked the class to spend some time that week pondering three questions:
Who are you influencing?
What are you influencing them to do?
and Who are you allowing to influence you?
It is a good thing to contemplate. We talked about some of the positive influence and negative influence that creeps into our lives. One of the things that seemed to resonate was the idea that if we are not careful we can let worldly things influence us too much. One thing I expressed was that as much as I love Pinterest and pottery barn magazine and as a whole I don't think they are BAD. Sometimes, I might feel pressured to make my home look like a picture out of a magazine or every meal I serve my family has to be pinterest-photo worthy. We also talked about celebrity tabloids and red carpet photos and the pressure those can place on us to look a certain way. I love people magazine as much as the next guy but trying to keep up with supermodels and celebs requires full time makeup artists, stylists, and personal trainers - none of which I have or are realistic expectations for a mother of five with as many responsibilities as I have. This, in turn, led to a discussion about balance. It is important to maintain a sense of balance. One of the ways that we do that is to start with balancing what influences us. Working out is great! Trying to keep our homes in order is great too! So is cooking for your family, trying to look your best, staying physically fit, etc. All these things can be taken to extremes, however. We have to use the Spirit as our guide to make sure that we are keeping those things in check AND prioritizing the things that REALLY matter like temple attendance, magnifying callings, studying scriptures, and serving others.
One of the people that I learned I was influencing with even knowing it is BO at the UPS store.
The first week of every month I take a care package in to UPS to be mailed to Tanner. We try to make it fun by decorating it with a theme each month. I take it in open like this because they fill it with peanuts to travel better.
(Ironically, I get a lot of my ideas from the aforementioned Pinterest).
As I tool the care package for October in earlier this month, the young man at the register said for th other worker to "go get BO" out of the office". He then went on to explain that Bo loves to be the one to help me so that she can see how I have decorated Elder Argyle's package this month and get an update. She came out and asked how Elder Argyle was doing and how much longer before he gets to skype with me and was I excited to take to him at Christmas and how was he holding up to the Arizona heat, etc...
And I realized, without even trying or really even knowing it- I have been influencing and sharing a lot about my church with BO. In jut those five minutes each month for the last 14 months, she has learned so much about our family and has come to know quite a bit about our missionary son.
We just never know who we are influencing.