Be Kind, Take Every Opportunity to Smile!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, June 23, 2014

Cute-Kitten-and-Puppy-Wallpaper 2013-06

Be Kind, Take Every Opportunity to Smile!

Have you ever had the experience of meeting someone for the first time, and somehow knowing that this person was not going to be your best friend? Or, any kind of friend at all? I know I have. I’ve met a few people who did not have a positive attraction for me. I describe these people to myself as ‘cat-people.’ When they meet a dog-person like me (yes, I just love dogs!), their ‘fur’ automatically goes up. Negative reaction. When I meet them, the hair on the back of my neck sometimes stands on end.

(In the interest of rigorous honesty, I need to insert this qualification. I grew up with a dog, and had another dog for ten years until I was in college. Yes, I love dogs! And, I love cats, too! My two older daughters have cats. Sadly, I am allergic to these four-footed friends. I really enjoy them, and they often come straight to me for petting, rubbing of ears, and tummy rubs. But my eyes water, and I start sneezing if I’m around them too long. Drat that cat dander!)

One particular situation came to mind today. Or, one particular person, I mean. Again. But I’ll say more about that in a minute.

I had a wonderful exercise class today! Yoga is so beneficial for me, especially the gentle yoga and stretching class I attend. A really positive experience. On my way out of the Y, I went through the large lobby, with several employees at the front desk, and another at the scanning station. I’ve been a Y member for several years. Almost all of these people know me, by sight if not by name. I smiled at them as I walked through the lobby.

In case you don’t know what I look like, I have a friendly, natural smile. My big smile just sort of happens. Automatically. My dear friend, retired Pastor Carl, gave me some excellent advice some years ago when I graduated from seminary. He said I had a lovely smile, and I ought to use it, often. I’ve taken that advice to heart. I do smile, as often as I can! It was especially useful when I was working in hospitals as a chaplain. I often had patients or their loved ones tell me my smile brightened up their whole day. That warmed my heart! And, made me appreciate Pastor Carl’s excellent advice, too.

But for some reason, as I smiled at a whole bunch of people today, a situation from a number of years ago came to mind. Then, I attended a preliminary, adjudicatory meeting. One of the panel in the meeting appeared all buttoned up, somber, almost as if the panel member had sucked on a lemon. This member did not say a word all meeting long, until I rose to get up at the end of my portion of the meeting. Then came the zinger: looking directly at me, “You smile too much.”

God, this situation periodically plays over and over in my mind. I know I need to evict this person from renting space in my head. How much more mental space I would have for things that are pleasing to You! Dear God, I pray for this person. Again, I pray all good things for their family, too. Dear God, help this member in every aspect of their life. Amen. So be it, God!


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Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Sunday, March 16, 2014

THANK thank you God

Looking Ahead, Serving with Enthusiasm!

What a difference a day makes! Or, a few days, in this case. Today, I started serving in an interim position at a church in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove. My arrival there was providential, to say the least. (I am sure I will say more about it, in the days ahead.) I am looking forward to a wonderful time of service.

One of my new responsibilities at the church is serving as interim music director. (They have a lovely digital piano!) I enjoyed playing the piano for the congregation this morning. I have been doing that on a periodic basis for two retirement centers in Chicago, about once a month. I’m sad to leave that part-time ministry, but happy and excited to move into a new, more varied one. Yes, I did active service today, by leading music, playing the piano, and praying in the church. I tried to be a blessing to the congregation.

Later today, I reconsidered the verse I’ve chosen for March, for this blog. It comes from Ephesians 6:7. “Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women.”  When I consider my new position, I am energized! Excited! May I say—enthusiastic? I think, yes.

I talked with one of my wonderful relatives this afternoon, who rejoiced with me over my new position. She has worked in corporate business for several decades. (She is wise in the ways of business and savvy in interpersonal communication, from a fast-paced, cut-to-the-chase orientation. So useful, and so appreciated!)  She often gives excellent advice. Today was no different. Her thoughtful, to-the-point words struck home with me. She said, “Whenever I go into a new management situation, I always tell myself that I will try to actively like all the members of my management team. Working together is always easier and smoother when we like each other.”

Wow, God. Such an excellent piece of advice! I can see how important this is. If I like, respect and, in a Christian context, pray for people I work with, work will always go more easily and smoothly. I knew this piece of advice said in a little different kind of way. I remember one of my seminary professors telling us to pray for the congregation, and invite the congregation to pray for us, as church leaders. Regular prayer helps me like them, and even love them. Which is what God commands, by the way. (And it’s really difficult to actively dislike someone I’m regularly praying for, besides.)

This is going to be a busy week. I have a conference to attend for several days (for my certificate for Alcohol and Drug Counseling, or CADC). And since it’s Lent, I need to prepare a brief service for Wednesday night, on top of everything else. Busy, busy! But God, I know You will be right there next to me. Thanks for this new adventure! And thanks for the assurance that “whate’er I do, where’er I be, Still ‘tis God’s hand that leadeth me.”


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