How to Be Kind, While Standing in Line

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, December 20, 2014

when someone is nasty

How to Be Kind, While Standing in Line

I stood in line two times today. And I mean, in serious lines.

First, at the post office. I mailed a Christmas present to one of my relatives in another city. I stood in line outside the post office as I waited for the door to open, first thing this morning. And then (because I was not the first one in line outside), I waited longer inside.

However, mostly because it was in our small, local post office, people were generally very nice. Nice to the postal worker behind the counter—who is a long-time worker at our post office, and a super nice guy. Also, nice to each other—and comfortable talking with one another, even though people weren’t acquainted before waiting in line together.

So, yes. I did end up waiting a total of twenty minutes at the post office. The time I spent there was pleasant and genial. Altogether, a nice experience.

I also waited in line at the bank. I had some banking business to transact this morning, and it was helpful for me to interact with a teller. However—there was only one teller inside at the window. Moreover, she not only had to wait on people in line, she also needed to handle the customers outside, in the drive-up lane. It was between 11:30 and noon, on the Saturday morning before Christmas.

Whoever came up with that for an employee allocation plan? Finally—another employee came over to the teller windows and started helping the bank customers. But that was after I had been in line some twenty minutes.

I could tell that the fellow people waiting in line at the bank were getting short-tempered. The atmosphere was completely different from that at the post office. Not pleasant. Not genial.

I decided to start talking. In my friendly way (similar to the way I interacted at the post office earlier today), I made several general comments to the people around me. Talking about how busy it was outside, and how long the lines must be at the post offices on the Saturday before Christmas. The two people behind me warmed to the subject. We talked for a bit. Just before I went up to see the teller, I looked back in line. Eleven people behind me.

Good grief. I ended up waiting in a stark, somber bank line for more than thirty minutes. Here’s hoping those behind me had a better experience after I left.

So often, people decide to react in either a positive or a negative way. The line at the post office was a positive experience. I hope I made the lengthy wait at the bank a little more bearable for a few people. Using my chaplainly, pastoral care skills, I think I did. God willing.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Meet New Friends!

A Year of Being Kind blog –Saturday, June 14, 2014

friends who ask about you and then really listen

In Which I Meet New Friends!

Today was a busy day! Met with friends for breakfast, then over to the library. I went to the Y to exercise, took a gander over to the little shops near the El train, and caught the El to go back home. And that was just until about 12:30 in the afternoon! I kept on going, busy doing—working—writing. And on top of everything, I had a meet-up with more friends, this evening. (!!!)

These people were people I had never met before. (As my children would say, IRL—that is, in real life.) I knew a mutual friend who has since moved to the west coast, who introduced me into this online community. This community had all attended the same Christian college, and we all shared some common interests. A select group, to be sure! I had communicated regularly with many of them over social media, but hadn’t met them in the flesh. Until tonight.

I was excited. Going into the north side of Chicago, to one of the lakefront communities. The street was hopping! Full of night life, and everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. Me, included! At least, I was fully expecting to have a great time. Through social media, we had all agreed on a meeting place. I mean, a restaurant and bar where we would all rendezvous.

I don’t often hit the bar scene. Now that I’m officially middle-aged, and everything, it just doesn’t have quite the same attraction. (I also noticed all the people working at the restaurant were the age of my children.) But that’s neither here nor there.

As I went into the place, I noticed this joint was jumping. I just naturally put my best foot forward. My best chaplainly attitude, also. This served me well in talking with several staff. I gave my name to wait for a larger table, and went to the door to wait some more. But it didn’t take very long. In no time I had met up with the online community! There were a few moments of hesitancy, and getting to know each other, but we all were talking together comfortably. Soon, regular rounds of laughter and general hilarity overtook our table. Amazing what can happen with the assistance and aid of social media!

In no time at all, I had acquired several new friends. Yay, me!

So, how was I kind today? Through my genial, friendly smile, of course! And my open and welcoming attitude. This is so natural for me, as I think of being a chaplain. Wow, I am going to need to get used to thinking of myself as a pastor, too. My smile and attitude is a good pastorly thing to have, too!

@chaplaineliza

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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