God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Monday, May 1, 2017

Today’s weather was rainy in both the afternoon and evening, which followed a very rainy, gray and chilly weekend. I found I needed some serenity today. It’s difficult for me to be cheery and bright when the weather outside has been so gray and dismal for a number of days in a row. (*sigh!*) I wanted to pass this along. Perhaps someone out there needs some peace and serenity, too.

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

Posted on May 1, 2014 by chaplaineliza

serenity prayer coin

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, April 30, 2014

God, Grant Me the Serenity . . . to Be Kind

I did a number of various kinds of things today. Practiced the keyboard for Sunday service. Handled some administrative matters in the office. Led an adult bible study. Wrote some of the encyclopedia article I’ve been working on. Went to two meetings later in the day. Bought my daughter a dress (she’s going to a special symposium as an invited guest tomorrow). Met with a good friend after dinner.

Not to mention all the other stuff that’s going on in my life. Any one of these things is a worthy topic for being of service. But I’d like to focus on the topic of serenity. And how much I need some in my life.

Reinhold Niebuhr wrote the original Serenity Prayer. It was more than twice as long as the prayer commonly known by so many today. The short version is also repeated in recovery groups all over the country—even all over the world, today. But the shorter prayer is one that I have memorized. And one I say to myself, from time to time. Even more often than that, on occasion.

The thing about this Serenity Prayer is that it urges me to accept people, places and things, as they are. If I have a degree of acceptance in my life, I am more likely to be open and willing to help others. To serve and to be kind. I also find I that much more likely to have joy and gratitude in my heart.

Since there is so much going on in and around my life, currently, I honestly feel the need for serenity. Peace. I would prefer a little quiet, which is more than I usually get around my house. (Thanks to my two teenagers!) I know what many people will say—in just a few years, there will be more than enough quiet, when my two younger children follow my two older ones. When I have an empty nest.

But I am not there, yet. I still need the Serenity Prayer. I am familiar with the idea of acceptance. Accepting the fact that there are many things (even most things?) in my life which I cannot change. Have absolutely no control over. And, I need to be okay with that. Today, despite feeling as if I did not control much in my personal and work life, I was still able to help others. I still made several people smile, even laugh. I still led a bible study. (the Road to Emmaus! Great material!) And, I especially had a wonderful time with my friend—we talked about all kinds of things. Just like we always do.

I’ll close with the Serenity Prayer, because any time is a good time for serenity. God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my blog: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers– where I am doing a PEACE journey through Eastertide and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

(also published at ayearofbeingkind.wordpress.com .   @chaplaineliza And read my sermons   from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

What About Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Legit?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, June 10, 2014

hugs, hearts

What About Someone Who Doesn’t Feel Legit?

The time was later in the day. A grey, cold day for June, and had been raining most of the afternoon. At the tail end of some writing work, I needed to get everything finished before I left for the day. The preschool down the hall continued to empty—I heard the cars stopping and starting again with half an ear. As I sat at the desk and pounded the computer keys, the doorbell outside the front door rang. Hmm?

I went through the outer office and peered around the corner. A tall, sort of scruffy-looking man walked back towards his pick-up. Nice, newer model truck, I thought. I opened the door. “Hello!” I called, in my best friendly voice. The man stopped, turned around. Walked toward me. Older, rather than younger. Hair mostly grey, baseball-style cap with a few faint stains. Smaller handlebar mustache, even.

“Hello, ma’am.” He extended his hand. I introduced myself as the interim pastor. “Do you mind if I talk to you for a few minutes?” I smiled and made a welcoming gesture with my hand. “Certainly. Why don’t you have a seat?” As he passed by on the way to the pew against the wall, I got a clear whiff of alcohol. Coming out of his pores. He looked clear-eyed enough, but he must have been drinking quite a large amount recently to be in that kind of situation. I could smell the booze from five or six feet away.

Then the sad story came out. I must admit, he told it well. A contractor and carpenter for most of his life, doing some roofing more recently. With little touches like, breaking his back, both arms and a bunch of ribs by falling off a roof about two years ago. His aged parents had nursed him back to health. Then a long, almost fanciful description about his parents’ home in a small town—sounded almost idyllic. Except that there was hardly a job to be had in that area. So, because of back problems, and health issues, and herniated something-or-other, he had packed the truck and come back to the big city.

Now, here I intuited that he was telling the truth, amidst the fanciful fabrications. He made mention of a specific hospital where he was being treated. A ways from the church, but that did sound legit.

I interrupted him, and asked him in a kind voice, “I’ve been listening to your long, involved story for some time. What is the most important thing for you to ask me, right now?” He took a deep breath, looked at me with an assessing eye. Then made his pitch for money. “If you could see your way to giving me a little money for gas. That’s all I need.”

“I don’t have any money available right now, I’m afraid. But you mentioned that you were really hungry. You have lost lots of weight in the past weeks, you said, because you didn’t have food,” was my response, still in a kind voice. See, I had been listening. “And what you mentioned in your story? Sounds a lot like you did Step 4 and Step 5 with that priest. Making amends? Sounds like you were working Steps 8 and 9.” His eyes narrowed. The corner of his mouth twitched—not favorably. “Yeah, I heard about that stuff . . . “ he replied, slowly. “I guess.”

I stood up and walked down the hall to the other side of the narthex. He followed. On the table stood two boxes with the collection for the local food pantry. “I’m sorry I don’t have any money, but you are welcome to any of this food.” He cast an eye over the gathered food and grabbed some cans of vegetables. He thanked me, but his bright story-telling persona had gone away. I had a suspicion it might. On the way out the door, he asked me whether I knew of any other churches nearby. Sure, I mentioned a large Catholic church about seven or eight blocks away. Right down the street. “Oh.” Again the twitch with his mouth, and he mentioned something about already going there, before.

As I sent him on his way with the cans of vegetables and an encouraging smile, I felt a twinge of sadness. I knew about the solution for some of his difficulties, at least. Since I have a certification as Alcohol and Drug Counselor, I know about the help that comes from the 12 Steps and from the recovery program. But he did not seem open to hearing about that, at all. God, I listened to him. I provided him with some food, and gave him encouraging smiles. But God, I didn’t give him what he most wanted, perhaps what he most needed. Money for alcohol. I pray for him. I pray that he can find the solution for his problems. And find You, God, in the process.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Rescue, Serve, Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, May 2, 2014

LOVE M. Teresa judge no time to love

Rescue, Serve, Be Kind! (Feature Friday!)

Imagine living in one of the world’s largest cities. Waves of immigrants flooding into the city. The economic situation of the country is shaky, to say the least. This is the situation Jerry and Maria McAuley found themselves in. This is New York City, in the 1870’s. Both the McAuleys had shady pasts, but both had found religion. And, they were the first to open the doors of a religious institution to the poor and needy, the outcasts of society. The first to open a Rescue Mission.

The original Rescue Mission was housed in a donated building. The McAuleys developed a vision of faith-based Rescue Missions that spread throughout the country. New York City Rescue Mission is still carrying that vision forward. Rescuing the poor, the needy, the outcasts of society. As the purpose statement of the Mission says, it exists “to provide help and hope for the hungry, homeless and hurting men and women of New York City.”

Just how does the Mission do that? I’m glad you asked.

In the Career and Learning Center, those served by the Mission can take a variety of courses: GED classes, computer training, general life skills, financial planning, and more. The staff of the Mission and its volunteers help with writing resumes, telephone and interviewing skills, and other skills that are valuable in the world of education and work.

In the Residential Recovery Program, men have the opportunity to achieve lasting change, one day at a time, by ministering to the broken spirit. Aftercare Programs are available, too. These help graduates stay accountable to each other and assist their long-term recovery. Those who struggle with relapse are always welcomed back. And, spiritual hope is always available. God’s love and help was there at the founding of the Mission, with the McAuleys, just as it is today.

Since this is the beginning of May, and a new month, we focus on a new bible verse. From Deuteronomy 15:11: “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward the poor and needy in your land.” This is a call from the Lord for believers everywhere to extend their hands, their hearts. Help. Be kind. Be of service, especially to the needy, the hungry, the homeless, and the hurting people in our midst.

New York Rescue Mission recently had an innovative, moving way to impress this call from God on the hearts of New Yorkers: see whether your heart is moved, as well.

 

@chaplaineliza

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Conference-Goer by Day, Pastor by Night

A Year of Being Kind blog –Wednesday, March 19, 2014

keep it simple

Conference-Goer by Day, Pastor by Night

Another day at the addiction and recovery conference. A rainy and chill day, this time. Good day to be inside. As I mentioned yesterday, I love being with fellow professionals. I enjoy getting a refresher on the area of my certification! (For those of you who are wondering, I have a state certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling. That’s on top of my master’s degree in Divinity.)

I loved both morning and afternoon sessions. Nothing too, too heavy. (Just kidding!) Seriously, just a seminar on grief and loss as related to addiction and recovery in the morning. This was followed by lunch and then a practicum on suicide. Both presenters were superb, and knew their stuff! I didn’t even mind discussing and learning more about such downer-subjects.

Many of the usual suspects—I mean, many of the same addictions and recovery professionals attend these sessions. I get the opportunity to hear from certain of them at the individual sessions. We all have some sort of service orientation, too. Many of these people are deeply concerned with and care about alcoholics and addicts, or drunks and druggies (as some people say). And oriented towards service? You bet! Such caring, loving service is natural for many in the addiction and recovery area.

I serve in the addiction community, too. I’m not currently employed as a counselor, case manager or worker at a recovery home or rehab unit, but I facilitate a spirituality group regularly at an inpatient drug and alcohol unit at a medical center several miles west. I’ve done it for the past nine years. (Gee, time flies when you’re having fun!) I do look on leading this group as service. Service to God (or, if you prefer, my Higher Power), as well as to the drunks and druggies who have just arrived in treatment.

A few years ago, when I was doing my two semesters of internship, I was able to serve as substance abuse counselor intern at this particular inpatient unit. After the ten month period of internship was over, I took the certification test, and added more letters to the end of my name. Oh, and I received a certification as Alcohol and Drug Counselor, too.

I praise God that I am available once a month to these good people at the inpatient unit, and facilitate the spirituality group. Many of those people in that unit are hesitant about religion. Understandable! If I had had similar experiences with church, religion, and dysfunction in the family, I probably would have a problem with religion, too! Since the recovery program and the 12 Steps are heavily spiritual (NOT religious!), this gives me an open door to talk about God.

Some prefer referring to God as their “Higher Power,” but I welcome any opportunity to let people know that God loves them, God has a plan for their lives, and God is with them—each day, all the days of their lives. One day at a time.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, January 22, 2014

keep it simple

Keeping Quiet, Being Kind

I know I’ve been trying to blog each day in 2014. As I’ve said before, I’m highlighting an intentional act of service every day. A wonderful opportunity to show different ways of being kind, to find ways of being of service to others!  Many spiritual and religious traditions raise up the practice of service, including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, and the Recovery program.

But what about things done in secret? Acts of kindness or service that the doer doesn’t want anyone to know about? I personally know a couple of people who try to do kind things for others on a regular basis, and go out of their way to keep it hush-hush. Richard Foster’s excellent book Celebration of Discipline deals with this aspect of service. Chapter Nine talks about the service of hiddenness. Serving in this way can be a needed test of one’s devotion. As Foster says, “[it is] a rebuke to the flesh and can deal a fatal blow to pride.”

Instead of getting all puffed up and walking around with a big head (“My goodness, look at me! Look at all the acts of service I’ve piled up—I mean, I’ve done for God!”), I can readily see the benefits of service done in secret. I have done any number of acts of service that I haven’t spoken (or blogged) about. First, perhaps because I knew the person I did the service for would not appreciate me blogging about them. Second, because I did not want to openly broadcast the act of service, and otherwise shine a spotlight on what ordinarily would be a quiet act of kindness or compassion.

Foster tells his readers that acts of hidden service not only affect the person serving, but others, as well. “Hidden, anonymous ministries affect even people who know nothing or them. They sense a deeper love and compassion among people though they cannot account for the feeling.” (p. 134) I can attest to this. On numerous occasions when I’ve been involved in ministry to others, doing acts of kindness or service, I have sensed a sweetness, a freshness about the place. It’s as if the positive energy or God’s blessing (or whatever anyone decides to call it) permeates the atmosphere. I can’t explain it, I can’t quantify it. But I have experienced it. The difference being kind makes.

I do have a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, and I know how important acts of service are to those in recovery. A common saying in recovery goes, “You can’t keep it unless you give it away.” And again, on page 77 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the chapter Into Action talks about the recovering person’s attempts to be of “service to God and the people around us.” This concept is a foundation of the recovery program. Being of service to others is not only helpful, but essential to maintaining a healthy balance and spiritual walk with God and with others.

So, yes. I did do several acts of service today. And I am going to choose to keep quiet about them.

@chaplaineliza