Feeling Sad—but Helping Anyway!

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

striped cat

Feeling Sad—but Helping Anyway!

Today was my niece Josie’s wedding day, in Tacoma, Washington. (I’ve already seen a photo from the occasion. Lovely! She looked so happy. As all brides ought to.) The wedding took place outside in a beautiful park. Many of my family members attended the wedding, including my two older daughters. But, alas, I was not able to attend. (For a number of reasons, not least of which was that I really needed to go to the two conferences I attended last weekend.)

I felt badly that I was unable to go to Washington, and regretfully told my niece so about a month ago. I did send my best wishes, good thoughts and prayers with my oldest daughter. Plus, I’ll be sending a card next week. A little extra wedding good-wishing, after the fact.

However, this circumstance frees me up to take care of my daughter’s cat. My oldest daughter and her roommate have an apartment not far from where I live. I can easily run over there and pop in on the cat. Give her food and water. A friendly, sometimes attentive cat! While I sat at the dining room table with my laptop, the cat jumped onto my lap a number of times. Rubbed her head and shoulders against my hands and arms, and was insistent about being petted. Accordingly, I petted her willingly enough.

This cat likes people! That is, usually. She does have her moods, and sometimes goes off to hide or to be on her own. But even so soon after my daughter left (early yesterday morning), the cat came running to see me as soon as I came in the back door. Eager to be with company, desiring attention and praise.

Reminds me a little bit of . . . me. Me as I used to be, as a teenager. I wanted attention. I craved praise and admiration. (Strokes, perhaps?) When I was a teenager, and afterwards for a number of years, I had a sad case of low self-esteem. Due to a number of factors, I would strive for attention, help out at school, church, neighbors’ homes, and also my own home. Also, I would go after praise and strokes from others. I seldom heard these compliments at home, so I listened hard whenever anyone sent a compliment my way. I valued them, so very much!

Now, of course, I have gained greatly in self-esteem. Plus, I have a faithful prayer team that lifts me up in supportive prayer on a regular basis. I regularly encourage and support younger and more tentative people. (But enough about me.)

Yesterday and today, I gladly went to take care of my daughter’s cat! I know the cat was very pleased to see me. Moreover, I am pleased to help my daughter, and to be of service when and where I can. Plus, I got to pet a friendly cat! A win-win-win situation.

@chaplaineliza

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Hush Up!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 8, 2014

runner wall decal

Hush Up!

Rhetorical question: am I doing an act of service if I keep my mouth closed?

Let me back up, and give some context to my question. After I dropped my son off at the high school in town, I went to the gym at the YMCA, as often is my practice. I really like using the track on the floor above the main gym most days. Today was no different. I quickly changed in the locker room and went upstairs, through the cardio and weight room through to the large gym. I had totally forgotten that this was Wednesday. (I usually don’t go to the gym on Wednesdays, for a variety of reasons. But I did today.)

As I warmed up and stretched, and started my workout on the track, I noticed some people coming in to the main gym. Oh, no! Today is Zumba day. Don’t get me wrong—I sometimes watch the people doing Zumba to the energetic, pounding music, and it’s wonderful cardio-vascular exercise. It’s the music that sometimes gets on my nerves. Today was particularly annoying. The first song that was played as I power-walked and jogged around the track had four chords. A four-chord progression, played over and over and over and . . . you get the idea. Repetitive, mind-numbing. It almost made me want to scream. It went on for seven minutes. (Yes, I watched the clock as I circled the track.)

I’m a classically-trained musician. Piano is my primary instrument, and composition was my emphasis for my undergraduate degree in music. I usually can “turn off my ears” and ignore or just not pay attention to poorly composed or performed music. But not today. As I went around the track for a good part of those seven minutes, I felt like giving someone a piece of my mind. Grrr! But I didn’t. It came to me (I suspect God brought this thought to me) that by complaining and kvetching to whatever unlucky YMCA staff member was on duty this morning, I really wouldn’t accomplish much of anything. The Y staff member would probably cluck his or her tongue, nod understandably and say, “There, there.” Or words to that effect. I know. I’ve worked in customer service, and that’s what I would have done in a similar situation.

Instead, I had another thought—also inspired by God, I think. This morning was an opportunity for me to practice forbearance and patience. Two fruits of the Spirit that are not as readily apparent in my character as they ought to be. I kept my mouth shut. I did not blow up or gripe to any Y staff or to the Zumba leader. People have a perfect right to listen to whatever kind of music that they like.

What about a positive act of service? Later, I saw another Y staff member wearing a really pretty sweater today. I smiled at her and gave her a sincere compliment on the sweater. She blossomed, telling me that her daughter had given her the sweater for Christmas, and she’d be sure to tell the daughter.

I think both were acts of service. I was proud of myself. And I think God was amused.

@chaplaineliza