Change Your Filter

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28 ESV

Romans 8:28 was my Grandma Courtney’s favorite verse. She quoted it countless times in her life. That reputation might be the primary reason she was able to endure so many hardships. Grandma was a young bride at 16 years old. She had a baby at 17 years old who passed away as an infant. She had another child whose father died in a car accident. His young son was only 9 months old. She was suddenly a very young, single mother and had to go to work while still grieving. She later married again and had 5 more children. These details were just the beginning.

            She has long since passed away and I’m sure has been reunited with all who have gone before her. My grandmother greatly impacted my life because of her strength and tenacity and her “I-will-beat-it-against-all-odds” attitude. She kept changing her filter – the way she viewed or thought about events and people around her – to keep herself filtering everything freshly. I can’t help but believe that her life was better because of her ever-evolving positive perspective.


            Like the air filter or oil filter in our car, periodically filters must be cleaned or changed altogether to maintain a good flow of air or oil. Otherwise, our car could overheat, resulting in an unnecessary breakdown and expensive repairs. Having fresh filters keeps our vehicles running longer and more efficiently.

            Relationships in life can be tough. Some of the toughest ones to navigate are family relationships – parents, spouses, siblings, and children. Our close friendships are not always easy either.

Love is not a feeling.

I have often found that the only way to get past an issue with someone is to “change my filter.” This idea simply means to change the way I think about them. For example, maybe I don’t necessarily feel the love from someone or maybe I have even been genuinely hurt. To bridge the gap between us, I will eventually give them the benefit of the doubt. This helps me move on and think of them from a place of love rather than a place of disapproval. Essentially, I am “changing my filter.” It is a decision that I must consciously make.

Love is not a feeling. Love is a decision. This thinking is a major mind shift that requires some healthy self-talk and some pushing down of pride – not an easy task. And I have yet to master it because I am human and sometimes I just want to be “right!”


            1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) begins, “Love is patient. . .” and that is where I already have a challenge. I am not a very patient person by nature, but I have learned the hard way that I need a degree of patience in order to sustain permanent relationships. God knew He would need to spell out the exact requirements for healthy relationships, otherwise people like me would look for a loop-hole!

            The passage continues in verse 5, saying that love is, “not self-seeking” and “keeps no record of wrongs” (NIV). These clauses mean “change your filter.” You can’t be a “history teacher” – constantly reviewing how someone wronged you over the years.

            Sometimes we want to be shown love in the precise way that we ideally receive it but ignore the failed attempts of the one trying to genuinely be a friend or make amends. We need to get to a place where we can accept people where they are. I’m not saying adopt their lifestyle or agree with everything they say and do, but treat them with respect and genuinely show them love and receive the love they offer.

Tall Order

            This idea is a tall order, I know, but it is possible. I have seen people who interact with each other over the years fall into the same old trap of resentment about something that happened a long time ago. People wait on something from the other person, like an acknowledgement or apology, to mend that relationship. The resolution they continue to wait for may never come. There must be forgiveness because life goes on.

            Let’s not waste another minute trying to figure out how to change other people or how to persuade their thinking to be more like ours. Continuously choosing charity and compassion helps you to cherish priceless connections. Commit to love them right where they are and, if necessary, change your filter.  

If you have a difficult person who comes to mind, stop and pray for them right now. If you are praying for someone or a situation it is much more difficult to be critical of them. Try it!

To read more on justice, mercy, and grace, click here.

For more from the author, checkout her book This Season of Hope.

Justice, Mercy, and Grace

“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Micah 6:8 NIV

My closest friends know I haven’t always been a rule follower. It’s true I guess to some degree. I often push the limits of whatever I’m confronted with. As you might imagine, this approach has not always worked out very well.


While on a weekender at the beach with some great friends, we were looking for a place to have dinner. As the driver, I was attempting to follow the GPS on my phone and when the voice on the GPS said, “you have arrived,” we saw nothing. In the location where we expected to see the restaurant, there was literally no building at all.

We all found this to be quite humorous. It was biker’s week at the beach and we were in the middle of heavy traffic. Still processing the missing restaurant and trying to figure out where to go next, I saw the traffic light turn yellow. I continued driving through the intersection as the light was also turning a beautiful hue of red. My friend in the passenger’s seat said, “those are blue lights behind you. Pull over and hand me your phone.”


Reality set in. I felt the serious responsibility of the moment and it was very sobering. Referring to the officer who was approaching the vehicle, I said, “I hope he’s in a good mood.” After the officer approached the vehicle and asked for the license and registration he said, “Well, I’m in a good mood today.” Yay! He was so nice and decided to only give me a warning!

After I had a little time to think about what had just happened, I went to the spiritual place in my mind and said, “I didn’t get what I deserved. Thank you, Lord, for mercy.” I was truly thankful. I honestly should have gotten a ticket. I clearly broke the law and I was keenly aware of the possible consequences. An expensive ticket would have just killed the good mood for the rest of the weekend.


Instead of a ticket, though, I received a lesson in justice, mercy, and grace. Justice would mean that I would have gotten a pricy ticket for the standard amount for running a red light. That would be what I deserved. Instead, I didn’t get what I deserved. I received mercy in the form of forgiveness and no ticket. Grace, getting what I don’t deserve, was what I received from my friends. Instead of being angry, they were able to get a good laugh about that experience. Actually, they will probably never let me live that down!

A short two weeks later I was at a different beach with a different group of friends. I had parked the car near the beach access. Returning to the car after an absolutely perfect day, I discovered a ticket on my windshield! In the margin, handwritten, were the words “$100 fee upon next violation.”

My first thought was, “What?!” I hadn’t even realized it, but I was in a reserved parking section. On the dashboard, I had placed the pass that allowed admittance to the condo, and I thought that it covered all the parking areas. Apparently, it did not. And while ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, mercy had been extended to me once again.

God’s Mercy and Grace

Everybody wants justice when it’s for someone else. When it comes to us, we prefer mercy and grace. I deserved justice. Fortunately for us, God is also a God of mercy and grace. That knowledge gives us hope in the most uncomfortable situations. We may warrant the cuffs of justice and long for the relief of mercy, but God generously gifts grace to the undeserving. What a compassionate God we have!

“Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him”

Isaiah 30:18 NASB

“But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions it is by grace you have been saved.”

Ephesians 2:4-5 NIV


Think about a situation where God gave you mercy or grace.

Name a situation where you can exercise grace for someone else.

For more encouragement like this, get Paula’s book This Season of Hope – 5 Minute Messages to Recapture the Life You Were Designed to Live.