Forgetting to Be Kind?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, September 14, 2014

God is with you

Forgetting to Be Kind?

I like to talk to my friends, or members of my family, on the telephone. I really do! In fact, I have a sneaking feeling I am a bit old fashioned in this regard. Since—I see people all around me texting on their smart phones. I am very pleased and proud to say that I have never yet texted. I have a dumb phone. An older flip phone that I’ve had for years. (My husband and I have not had a cell phone contract for some years, either.)

However, I am bound by convention. The rules of common courtesy, the rules that say I will not call after a certain hour at night, or the rules that say I cannot call before a certain hour in the morning. True, these rules have a little wiggle room, but generally, I can’t call before 9:00 in the morning—8:30, if I push it. And in the afternoon? Or evening? That time is a bit more fluid. But—even still. I run into problems.

I want to highlight a really BIG problem. I keep forgetting to call my friends and family members—at a time fitting to common courtesy. I remember I want to make the calls at awkward times. In the very early morning or in the very late evening, for example.

Isn’t this so similar to my on-again, off-again relationship with God? Thank goodness, I have increased my personal prayer time, and increased my time in other spiritual direction exercises. However, I still fall short. I still keep forgetting to actually enjoy the relationship. (It’s a darned good thing that I do not have restrictions or barriers between God and me. Additional barriers would be quite difficult. Or problematic.)

Thank God I can depend on God—the almighty, omnipotent God. Instead of myself, instead of me and the forgetful nature of my brain, instead of the on-again, off-again relationship I have with human beings. And, thank God for the timely reminder to call people at a decent, sensible time. (As I’ve said many times before, God certainly has a wonderful sense of humor.)


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Rain Washes Me Clean—to Be Kind and Quiet

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 24, 2014

purple flowers

Rain Washes Me Clean—to Be Kind and Quiet

Some days are quiet days. Days to sit and think. Days I would prefer to be by myself. Days like today.

Upon reflection, I didn’t do anything super-awesome today. Sure, I came to work. Did some worship planning and sermon preparation. Made some telephone calls, got the final bible study ready for tomorrow. Talked with a couple of people briefly, and made pleasant conversation. But, I didn’t have any significant, in depth interaction today.

True, I try to find an opportunity to be kind each day. On second thought, perhaps the pleasant, low-key conversations were God’s way of showing me that I can be kind and loving in a quiet way. (I don’t need to do something significant every day. Even though, I admit it would give me a big ego-boost if I could.)

All right, God. Perhaps that’s what You wanted me to do today. Show my care, kindness and love to others—quietly. I can see how this way of being kind was also a way to display the verse for June, too: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 )

I do strive to be honest, open and willing in all of my affairs. I also try to let that light God has placed within me to shine before others, as much as I can. Another way to think about that light is the shining example of Jesus Christ. I know I fall short, but I can keep striving to live up to His example. After all, it’s continued progress, not perfection. God is pleased with me when I try my honest best, even if I do stumble and fall sometimes.

Stumble and fall? That’s the way I feel in conversation sometimes. I stumble over my words at times, and trip up on choosing the proper words or phrases to communicate what I mean. Of course, I had a stroke that attacked my language center when I was a teenager. Robbed me of the regular ability to finish sentences for several years, and it still gives me occasional difficulty. I’m still frustrated—even decades later—when I occasionally lose my words and feel awkward about my speaking ability.

Upon reflection, it’s a good thing that I have downtime, sometimes. That means that I can rest up, and not need to verbally communicate. Maybe it’s a good thing after all that I had a low-key day. A humid day that morphed into a hard thunder shower. Yes, I had to run out to the car in a downpour when I left to drive home.

God, thanks for the rain, to cool off the hot, humid weather. And thanks for the rain, to wash me clean. Wake me up. Get me ready to work for You. Thanks again!


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Breakfast, Friendship, Encouragement!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, April 26, 2014

friends who ask about you and then really listen

Breakfast, Friendship, Encouragement!

I took the opportunity to have breakfast with a group of friends this morning. You know the usual drill: eating, laughter, friendly conversation together. There were a group of us at the restaurant this morning, but I focused especially on one friend. We talked in depth, and had excellent communication! And I think I was open, encouraging, and helpful.

As I reflected on that personal conversation this morning, I honestly tried to be kind. I know it comes with the territory. Yes, I’ve been a chaplain for the past number of years. And yes, now I am an interim pastor. So, I “ought” to be kind, tenderhearted, encouraging. All of that.

I can feel the special training come to the fore, but I don’t think it’s forced. Not at all.

I do try to come alongside of others. I do use the ministry of presence I learned in seminary. But today I also reflected on where I came from, in my childhood and adolescence. I was a chubby child, and turned into a chunky teen. Talk about an awkward child! I didn’t have the opportunity to learn much about the social niceties when I was growing up, for a lot of reasons. So, I was behind most other folks in my social skills when I reached my late teens and early twenties.

Ever feel like you’re on the outside, looking in? That was me. Figuratively, I was outside on the sidewalk with my nose pressed to the glass. Looking inside, at all the cool kids. Yup, that was me. So by the time I started seminary at forty, I was still trying to play catch up. Seminary was a charm school of sorts, as were my internships. My learning curve was rapid! Pastoral care and active listening were two skills I immediately found useful.  I also continued to develop the practice of general courtesy and caring, with some amount of success.

So—here I was, at breakfast today. All of this background information was subtext, as I had interactions across the restaurant table. And lo and behold, I found myself being encouraging, of service. Kind. Actively listening. Not because I had to, but because it was natural for me to be that way. I am continuing to try to do daily acts of intentional service. And not surprisingly, I suspect my loving, caring actions are right on the money. Bingo.

My good friend and I had a wonderful time, talking in depth, making a true, real connection. This is not a new thing for me, but I felt it in a special way today. Have you ever felt God being pleased with you? I mean, in a genial and affirming way? That’s what I felt earlier today after I talked with my friend.

Just so, I try to be honest, open and willing in my thoughts and actions. Kind, helpful, encouraging. I hope I was encouraging to my friend—to all of my friends—today. God willing, I pray so.


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Serving by Housekeeping—or Rather, Maintenance?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, April 21, 2014

KIND another one kind word

Serving by Housekeeping—or Rather, Maintenance?

I went to work this morning. Quite a common thing to do, for many people. Going to work, that is. I am still getting used to my workplace, and everything involved with it. I very much like it! However, there are a lot of parts and pieces to my job. I need to get up to speed in more than the areas of pastoral care, preaching and music ministry. And, that’s a necessary thing. A good thing.

Say, administration and office work. I know how to do a lot of that, in other contexts. Just not in this specific church, in this particular suburb. I know each place has different idiosyncrasies, so it’s a good idea for me to familiarize myself with as much of the office as I can. And perhaps, I can suggest some things that might be helpful to the functioning of the office and organization. Or if you like, helpful to the ministry of the church and the congregation.

I asked some questions today about operations and maintenance, too! I know that some people would think certain questions might be silly. However, I’ve found I am usually beyond feeling shy or embarrassed at asking most questions. When I was a teenager, even into my twenties, I used to be shy and awkward. I might have those tendencies even now, but I am able to laugh about my occasional stumbles and missteps. It’s okay! Really, it is. Most people slip up sometimes. Or even more often than that. Like I said, it’s okay.

Thinking about the bible verse I chose for April, I could easily apply it to today’s activities. A verse from Colossians, verse 3:23. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” I don’t need to concern myself with what human beings think of me and my work. Instead, my first priority is to stay focused on God. If I try to please God, that’s the main thing.

Since I need to brush up on my church administration skills and activities, I do need to find out more about the office. Talking with informative and helpful people—like the head of the trustees, and the church treasurer—is a great way for me to orient myself to all things. And, I hope that activities at my workplace continue to go smoothly.

I know I want the best for my workplace. I also know I will try to be conscientious, kind and cheerful in my work and ministry. Will this be hard? Without a doubt. Will this job be rewarding? I know so, in many cases. I hope and pray that I will do my best—as Colossians 3:23 recommends. And not just at work, but in every area of my life.

What about you? Is there an area or a person you’re not sure about? Why not try some prayer? God will lead each of us. Whenever, wherever you or I go. God will be right there, by our side. That’s a promise.


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