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

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

A Year of Being Kind blog post for Monday, December 30, 2013

Internal Life? Or External Walk?

            For the past few years, I’ve been concerning myself with—myself. I have been striving to maintain some kind of spiritual balance, working on my internal, spiritual component. I pray regularly (or at least, try to). I visit my therapist and spiritual director regularly, work out on a weekly basis at the local YMCA gym, and I even practiced relaxation and meditation in an intensive way for several months. In all of this, I have been working on the inner “me.”

I have also been intentional with my prayer life. Not only have I been praying on an increasingly regular basis, but I’ve also started a prayer chain and prayer blog, so we all can be encouraged in our personal prayer lives. This helps my inner relationship with God prosper, too.

            But, what about my relationship with others? How about my family? Friends? What about those at church, or at the gym? What about my co-workers, or strangers I meet on the street? Have I been as studious and diligent at developing my relationship with them?

            Yes, I am called by God to be in relationship with God—the vertical relationship.  But I am also called to be in community, as well—the horizontal relationship, one with another. One of my spiritual gifts is helping people. And by nature, I am kind and compassionate in my relations with others. It’s my relationship with others and with my local community (as well as their relationship with me) that I want to work on in 2014.

            That’s why 2014 is my year to be kind. To help. To be of service. Intentionally.