Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, October 18, 2014

BK-Be-Kind-To-One-Another - Eph 4-32

Being Kind—at the Dry Cleaners

It being Saturday morning today, my husband and I did Saturday morning-type things. Including sorting through clothing, deciding which to take to the dry cleaners today. He took his five work shirts, and I added my raincoat. I ought to add a parenthetical comment. I received this black raincoat from my sister Sue. She is a high-level salesperson in the New York City area, and she has to look sharp and dress professionally at all times for her job. She wore this coat for a number of months, but then she bought another one. Was I glad to get this gently-used item! Lovely, durable, classy-looking raincoat. Just the thing for a ministry professional.

My husband Kevin dropped me off at the YMCA (yoga class today!). He went on to the cleaners. He has started going to a different cleaners lately. It’s located in a newer building in a small strip mall, and the husband and wife who own the business keep the premises very clean. Kevin parked, gathered up the clothes, and went for the door with arms full. Another man reached the door at the same time, but his arms were empty. He kindly held the door open for my husband. Kevin reached the long counter several seconds before the other man, and Kevin laid the clothes down near the cash register.

The Korean woman behind the counter seemed to be a bit flustered. She looked from one customer to the other. My husband noticed, and asked her about it. She gestured to the other man, and seemed very apologetic. “He’s just coming to pick up.” The other man nodded. “Go right ahead,” Kevin said. The woman ran and grabbed some clothes on hangers for the customer, and the man left.

Now it was Kevin’s turn. The proprietor of the cleaners checked in the clothes my husband brought. He paid for them with two ten dollar bills. That really pleased the woman. “We need ten dollar bills. Thank you, thank you.” My husband had two more in his wallet, and asked whether she could use them. She was so excited! “Yes, thank you so much!” She gave him a twenty in exchange, and then looked at him with a serious face. “You are a very kind man. You were patient, and let the other customer go first. Then, you gave me extra ten dollars. You are very kind!”

This embarrassed my husband. He’s a journalist, and a senior editor. A no-nonsense sort of a guy, he doesn’t particularly see himself as “a very kind man.” (He freely admits that’s more his wife’s department.) However, he thanked the proprietor with sincerity. And then, related this account to me.

After hearing what had happened, I told Kevin that he had been very kind. This made him wonder. He does not particularly go out of his way to be kind and helpful. However—he reflected whether he might be able to act his way into kind, helpful thinking. I told him that a number of months of doing kind, helpful acts of service every day was certainly affecting my habitual way of thinking. He nodded, seriously considering what I had said.

God willing, we might all act our way into kind, helpful thinking.


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Being Kind, Accompanying a Friend

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, April 24, 2014


friendship when people know all about you

Being Kind, Accompanying a Friend

I accompanied a friend to a medical visit today. I was happy to! Really.

This reminded me of situations in the hospital or in the care center, where I—the chaplain—would stay with patients and their relatives while medical personnel came into the room and talked at length about their medical condition. Or, about other sensitive or confidential information.

Of course, I would never stay without their permission. Sometimes, if the patient was unable to request my presence, the family members would. And, I understood, oftentimes. If I do say so myself, I have a comforting, less-anxious presence. This is helpful when I deal with upset or anxious patients and loved ones, or even angry and downright upset patients and relatives. And on occasion, the patient or family want me to pray for them, pray for the loved ones at home or scattered throughout the country. Or, pray for healing of body and soul, pray for comfort and encouragement for everyone involved (in the hospital and outside, too).

There’s another reason I remain with them: an extra pair of ears is sometimes helpful, too. I’ve seen it happen again and again. Even though the medical personnel often speak slowly and try to make sure the patient and family understand all the explanations and details and options, sometimes things can be overwhelming. All the information, all the upset, all the distraction. The unfamiliar rooms and beds, the hospital units, the unfamiliar staff coming into the rooms at all hours. And in some hospitals, the sheer size of the facility can be intimidating.

Not that my friend today was involved with any of these unpredictable aspects, but all the things eventually got squared away. I did, however, keep my ears open when the medical personnel came in, and I simply listened. Active listening, I mean. I hold people’s confidences very dear to my heart, and do my very best to get the clear picture from the medical professional. Just as backup for my friend, in case there was any clarification needed or discrepancy found.

My friend and I had a good talk, after the office visit. I am glad I was there to be an extra pair of eyes, ears and way of transportation.

I wonder: will there be anyone to do that for me? I am in fairly good health. (Yay, me!) I don’t think I need to go into the hospital or care centers right now. So, I suspect there will be sometimes when my loved ones need medical care. Or, even me! I might need to go to the doctor or oral surgeon or some other kind of professional. Ya never know. (I don’t!)


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Little by Little

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, April 13, 2014

BK be kind whenever possible

Little by Little

Day Seven of the bathroom facelift: in the home stretch! My contractor is coming back tomorrow to put the vanity in place and touch up the fresh paint he put on today. That’s just about all there is left. The brand new tile is beautiful! White, with a gray-ish glass mosaic trimming around the top. I keep pinching myself, because of the old tile—gosh darn it, more than that! The whole bathroom was scuffed up, old and tired.

However, Phase Two is going to take place on Tuesday. New carpet! (and such a deal, too!) My husband is a book lover. I am a book lover. When we put a lot of our books in one room and turn off the lights, I could swear there is some funny business going on. It seems as if they are mating, since they seem to duplicate. Double, sometimes even triple in number. I mention the books because it was a condition of the carpet guys putting in the carpet. Yes, my husband and I are almost done boxing up all the books and bringing them downstairs.

This was a process. A long, drawn-out process. But little by little, we are getting it done. It’s amazing how , incrementally, things can add up. It’s amazing how the piles of boxes gradually grow in the basement, too. As I’ve been watching the contractor work for these past few days, I have noticed the same thing with him and his work, too. A few set-backs, a couple of difficulties and problems, but nothing that made the contractor throw up his hands in frustration. (I could just imagine!) But thankfully, work is almost done.

As for me, I tried to be helpful and patient every place I went today—church, home, stores. I took the cue from these excellent examples. So, I tried my darnedest to be kind. Be helpful. Be of service. Final confirmation with the carpet salesman. He and I had a great conversation confirming the correct carpet swatch and the photo.

I tried to help out the contractor, too. Verifying the paint color, getting various things—as long as I was going to be stopping by the do-it-yourself hardware store. And truthfully, all the people I encountered were really, really kind.

God, I hope You show me the best way to let people know that I am interested in them, that I care about them and their families. At church, in the garden, and especially when I am out and about. God willing, I’ll keep trying to make a way where there is no way. I hope and pray that You lead me to people who could use, even need my touch.

What if People are Unkind to Me? What Then?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Sunday, February 9, 2014

LOVE God loves everyone

What if People are Unkind to Me? What Then?

Ah, this is a big question in my mind right about now.

I do have the spiritual gifts of helps and encouragement (among others). But what if I can’t find a way to be helpful? What if someone won’t allow me to be encouraging? What if someone shuts me down before I even open my mouth? What then?

I know the scripted answer. Yeah, yeah. I need to be kind to them. That’s what I’m “supposed to” do.

I get the sneaking feeling—well, all right, God. I know what You’re going to say already. You want me to be kind to them. Period. It’s not only the loving thing for me to do, it’s the kind thing. And the merciful thing. And the morally right thing. On top of everything else, what would Jesus do? (Yes, we’re back to that again.) How would God treat an unkind person?

I know what the Bible says. I Corinthians 13 tells me to love, and gives specific parameters for that loving. Verse four tells me that love is patient and kind. Okay, I ought to be patient and kind. Not some of the time, not part of the time. Not even most of the time. There are no time frame stipulations on love. So I figure God wants me to love all the time.

But what about . . . so-and-so? What’s-his-face isn’t kind, at all! So-and-so wouldn’t be patient if you paid her! Um, I have the feeling that my protests and excuses just won’t go too far. God is going to be like a kind, patient but strict teacher—or coach, or manager. It doesn’t matter how What’s-his-face or So-and-so might act. (As Aslan would say, that’s part of their story. I am not to concern myself with them or their situations. I have quite enough to handle with my story and living my life to the best of my ability. Oh, yeah. And to the glory of God, too.)

Let me turn the tables, as much as I’m hesitant, and tell tales on myself. Yes, I know I’m unkind some of the time. I’m one of those mean, unkind people. I must make some people really angry and upset sometimes. Even though I honestly try not to be unkind, I fly off the handle, I get upset. I lose my patience and get irritated. Yes, guilty as charged. What about you? Are you unkind, once in a while? More often than that?

In the past few days, I have been irritated with people I know. I have lost my patience here at home. I have raised my voice in the car, and yelled at the other drivers. But God still loves me, forgives me. God still waits, arms outstretched. God wants to welcome me back home. Can I do any less? I need to look for ways to be loving, patient and kind, as much as possible. God, help me look for opportunities.