Being Encouraging, Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, January 25, 2014

encourage someone today

Being Encouraging, Being Kind

I ran into a younger friend of mine earlier today, and we had a few minutes of friendly conversation together. I genuinely engaged with my friend. We talked, shared, laughed.  I think I was encouraging and helpful. I did not come right out and ask, but from the unspoken communication that passed between us, I think I was.

Being intentionally kind and tender-hearted every day is a tall order. I’ve tried to be that way for a number of years. Yes, it’s been my job, my profession as a chaplain and caregiver. I try to come alongside of others and use the ministry of presence I learned in seminary. Pastoral care and active listening also are useful in my job.  I’ve tried to refine the practice of general courtesy and caring too, with some amount of success.

As I said, I engaged with my friend today and practiced being kind. The Apostle Paul talks about the outgrowth of Christian love at the end of Ephesians 4, specifically outlining several actions that display the love of Christ. Just like when I act in a kind manner to seniors on a regular basis, or help out the neighbors in my building, or try to be open and tender-hearted to strangers who ask me for directions.  As I’m sincerely endeavoring to do daily acts of intentional service, I think my loving, caring actions are right on the money. Bingo.

It’s not that I feel puffed up and self-righteous. (“I’m so holy! I’m displaying so much more of a Christ-like attitude than those other people over there!”) That’s not it. But I felt myself reaching out today in a kind, friendly, God-honoring way today. Since it’s usually part and parcel of my job, I’ve done it before, intentionally. So, 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.

I recall when I had a similar feeling from God, a number of years ago before I started seminary. I was at the sink, washing the dishes. I prayed as I washed. I had something specific that troubled me. I concentrated on it as I washed and rinsed. The solution for my difficulty gradually was revealed to me as I stood in prayer. Afterwards, I vividly remember God being both amused and pleased with me. Not because I was praying in an “appropriate” manner, or getting all of my spiritual ducks in a row. No, I think it was because I was being honest, open and willing in my communication. God saw and honored my sincerity and openness in prayer. That message came through to me, loud and clear.

Just so, I try to be intentionally kind each day. It doesn’t matter whether I’m at work, at home, with friends, or with strangers. I try to be honest, open and willing in both thoughts and actions. I hope I was encouraging to my friend today. God willing, I pray so.

@chaplaineliza

Of Breakfast and Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 15, 2014

water sunrise

water sunrise

Of Breakfast and Being Kind

I went to a business breakfast this morning. Genial, good conversation. I enjoyed myself a great deal, although I needed to leave a little early. There were ten of us there. Eight men, me, and one other woman. I knew several of the others. The rest were strangers I was glad to meet.

I had known the woman, an acquaintance of mine, for some years. We hadn’t had a chance to reconnect for some time. It was good to sit next to her at the breakfast. We talked about ourselves, our families, and generally caught up with one another. She confided in me, “It’s good to have another woman here to talk to.” It’s not that either of us is at all averse to being with a room full of men. Certainly not! I really enjoy being with the guys. My friend said she often did, too. But this particular morning, she was happy to hang out with and eat breakfast with a fellow woman.

Afterwards, this comment led me to think further. I didn’t purposely decide to be kind to my friend. It just sort of happened. I was the way I usually am, in interaction with people. I am an intuitive, feeling-sort of person. I am aware of (and sometimes absorb) the emotion and attitude of the people I’m around.  I found myself behaving in an open, friendly way at the relaxed breakfast. I engage with others much more easily in this kind of situation!

I was able to share a little about what I do as a chaplain, and as a caregiver. I come alongside of people. Often in traumatic, highly emotional times. I try to contain strong emotion, and be with people in their time of need. But sometimes I can be there for people in more low-key, genial times. Like this morning, having breakfast with my friend.

Thinking about the beginning of Ephesians 4:32 (our verse for the month!), “Be kind, tender-hearted.” This verse encourages all of us to be kind—that is, sweet, amiable, gentle in disposition. Certainly not hasty, short-tempered, or abrasive. Second, we’re also told to be tender-hearted. That means especially compassionate, even if this is not the default way of being for some people. I can be particularly challenged to be this sort of person at all times, to act this way with everyone I meet. (Even though my personal default way of being does tend towards this kind of behavior.)

When I purposed to do 365 days of service, and to write a corresponding blog for each day (thus, A Year of Being Kind), I tried to have as few expectations as possible. I suppose that was so I could wander my way through each day, encountering people and practicing kindness whenever and wherever God wanted. I am only two weeks into the year. Already, I am amazed at how God has chosen to bring kind, helpful things and acts of service my way, each day. God, I wonder what You are going to bring me for tomorrow? I can hardly wait!

@chaplaineliza