“Whatever.” That’s a loaded word. It covers a lot of ground and can be used in a variety of ways–from the original innocuous meaning to the sullen response of a passive aggressive argument. That’s a pretty big range for one eight letter word.
Whatever. It’s the first word on a small purple sticky note attached to the bottom of my computer screen. That sticky note is a bit wrinkled, has curling corners and requires the assistance of tape to keep it in place now. It has been through a lot and I see it every morning as I sit in front of my computer.
“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Philippians 1:27a (NIV)
That’s what the sticky note says. It’s just a portion of that verse, but this part of it came to my attention many years ago just as I was starting a new job in a difficult situation. These words were my constant daily reminder that “whatever happened” that day, it shouldn’t change my response mode. I was called to respond to each person and to each situation in a way that was worthy of the gospel of Christ. That’s a pretty big assignment on the days when everything runs smoothly. It becomes even more challenging when everything doesn’t.
I must admit that there were times in the months that followed that I had to deliberately stand in front of that note and read it aloud to remind myself—sometimes multiple times a day. “Whatever happens. Whatever happens,” became my mantra. It wasn’t always automatic and easy to accomplish. It still isn’t.
The second part of the verse tells why the first part is so important:
“Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel” Philippians 1:27b
My response is critical because it will be noticed. It may be shared with others. As a believer in Christ, I represent Him regardless of whether those around me choose to do so or not—and people will talk. Because I am still a work in progress, I will not always do this perfectly, but I am called to respond to the best of my ability as HE would respond…whatever happens. There’s no escape clause in that phrase and that’s a good thing. There’s no escape clause in my relationship with Christ. Because of His love for me, His grace toward me, His plan for me, it’s permanent. Whatever happens.