Showing Love by Updating the Bathroom

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, February 19, 2014

bathroom - Roy Lichtenstein, Pop art, 1961

bathroom – Roy Lichtenstein, Pop art, 1961

Showing Love by Updating the Bathroom

What would you do if you got a sum of money? What would I do, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you.

First, I’ll give a little background, so you understand just why I asked that question. I received a small inheritance recently. I thought about it, prayed about it, and gave a portion of it away (to my church, and to two missionaries I’ve known for many years). One of the decisions I made was to update and renovate the bathroom in our condominium. Our building is about sixty-five years old, and the bathroom has not been updated in all that time. Everything still original. Everything still works, but things are a bit scruffy around the edges.

The contractor came over today. He and I talked, and I’m several steps closer to making this prudent decision a reality. The contractor blocked out the time in about five weeks, and I’ll start researching exactly what I want to purchase. Not really expensive, but certainly not super cheap. Pretty much middle of the road, except for the plumbing fixtures (which I very much want to be of excellent manufacture and condition). So, Home Depot? Menard’s? Here I come!

As I reflect on our modest condo, I cannot help but be reminded of how much this story relates to me and my physical self. My spiritual self. My emotional self. I’m in decent shape, too, if a bit scruffed up around the edges. Everything in my life and experience works and fits, for sure. But I am not certain whether I want to tell God, “hands off! That’s quite enough.” At least, I don’t think I want to.

Let’s stretch this analogy a bit further. I can think of God as my general contractor. I am the condo (or, small house). Sometimes, I get up the gumption (or, some might think it the foolishness) to have God redo a room or two. More often than not, God takes the initiative to do some remodeling.  I do not always agree, but God is my General Contractor, after all. I may not want the “kitchen” stripped down to the studs, or the “first floor windows” reframed, or the “sewer pipes” rodded out. Gosh, I may have smaller, gentler, kinder contracting jobs in mind, like washing the “outdoor wraparound porch” or changing the” light bulbs” on various appliances.

The verse that I am focusing on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” What could be more loving than making certain that the bathroom in our condo is a warm, welcoming, fully-functioning place? This particular room is a basic need, true! But when it’s done, remodeled and up-to-date, I will feel real satisfaction. I wonder whether God feels the same way about me, when a “remodeling job” is finished in my internal dwelling place, too?

I’ll need to consult some more with my General Contractor. God willing, I’ll do just that, when I pray and meditate tomorrow morning.


Showing Love, Serving in Coffee Hour

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 2, 2014


tea party

Showing Love, Serving in Coffee Hour

I served others intentionally today. I co-hosted in Coffee Hour at my church. Another way of talking about it is that I showed people love in a concrete, down-to-earth way today.

I wonder—how difficult is it to serve people, on a regular basis? I could ask a few of my relatives. While looking for work doing other things, several of them did work in the service sector. Restaurant servers, cab drivers. As for me, I’ve worked for several years in customer service, and as a caregiver for seniors.

Hosting (actually, serving) in Coffee Hour after church on Sunday is serving, too (except not for pay). I co-hosted with a wonderful couple in my church. Together, we made sure that everything was laid out and ready for everyone to come downstairs and eat. Then, we served the muffins, breads, fruit, and veggies we had set out on the tables. Poured coffee, tea and ice water, too. Since I was the youngest of the three of us hosts, I was more than happy to run back and forth from the church kitchen. Running, fetching things people asked for, getting items forgotten in our rush to get everything ready. Service. An opportunity for me to make things easier for others.

But this is a new month. Thus, I’m concentrating on a different verse from Scripture. Last month was Ephesians 4:32, where I looked for ways to be kind and tenderhearted towards others. This month, I want to seek out ways to show love to others. The verse that I will concentrate on in February is 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

By being a host and serving others in Coffee Hour, I tried to show love in truth and action. Certainly a tangible way of making others comfortable, facilitating things, and providing a pleasant atmosphere for people to enjoy some food, friends and conversation after the morning service. I hope I made things easier for a number of seniors, but also for some parents of small children.

I recognize that serving at church (in other words, sticking around a little longer, not running out the door as soon as the postlude starts) is also a way to make closer connections. Service in the church or at other religious organizations helps me make better friends with some people I don’t otherwise know very well. I’ve had any number of opportunities to do this, too. If I should ever need more friends, this is one sure-fire way for me to find them, too.

What a chance for me to get out of myself. Or, to get out of my rut (whatever rut I’m currently in). Or, an opportunity to serve God. However I look at the service in Coffee Hour today, I enjoyed it. I felt good working with the wonderful couple, and being of service to the rest of the congregation. So, a win-win-win situation, all the way around. I was pleased with my morning of service. I think God was, too!


Being Kind to Unkind People?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, January 28, 2014

BK be kind to unkind people

Being Kind to Unkind People?

When I think of unkind people, I think of sourpusses. People like Scrooge (before his reformation). Or people who do particularly nasty things. I see articles on the Internet under the Crime section of news sites I visit that astound, horrify, and sadden me.

In this blog post, I won’t concentrate on such extreme examples. Instead, I’ll mention a person in my acquaintance who was not kind with their tongue. I’ll also use a bit of C.S. Lewis’s excellent comments about the same fault from Book IV, Chapter 10 of Mere Christianity.

One person I’m thinking of qualified as a sourpuss. (I say “qualified” because she has passed on to her heavenly reward.) In our common ministry in the church, nothing was ever right. Nothing was ever good enough. She had to step in and readjust things, or redo arrangements, or rewrite the report. Moreover, her opinions of her fellow church members were often not charitable or kind. People didn’t exactly tiptoe around her. But sometimes, they did modify comments made in her hearing or just not ask her about things. Yet, she was accounted as a Christian, and a lifelong church member.

In Mere Christianity’s example of a nice, good-tempered atheist and a mean, nasty-mouthed Christian, C.S. Lewis asks the excellent question of what the mean Christian’s tongue would be like if she were not a Christian, and what the nice atheist’s tongue might be like if he were to become one. Both the atheist and the Christian, “as a result of natural causes and early upbringing, have certain temperaments: Christianity professes to put both temperaments under new management if they will allow it to do so. . . . You cannot expect God to look at [the atheist’s] placid temper and friendly disposition exactly as we do. Being merely temperamental, they will all disappear if [the atheist’s] digestion alters. . . . In the same way, God has allowed natural causes, working in a world spoiled by centuries of sin, to produce in [the Christian] the narrow mind and jangled nerves which account for most of her nastiness.”

My goodness. I have not read that particular passage for a number of years. Yet, it came back to me because of my prayer and meditation time this morning. I was not even concentrating on that specific topic today, yet God had this passage from Mere Christianity wash up on the shores of my mind. It all fits together. Really.

I needed to have my elbow jogged. God wanted to remind me about my attitude, and treating all people kindly. It doesn’t matter whether they are mean-spirited or nasty or unkind. I am to treat them in a kind and tenderhearted manner. And if I step back and wonder, “Do they really deserve kind treatment? After all, look what they’ve done/said/acted like!” all I need to do is to reflect on, “What would Jesus do?” How would He treat that horrible person? What would He say to the person who did that nasty action, or said that mean comment?

All I need to do is look in the mirror, and look at myself. God wants me to be kind to unkind people—they need it the most. (Unkind like me. Sometimes.)