Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind? (#BestOf)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Friday, June 23, 2017

Trust: a challenging concept, to be sure. This post talks about trust, from the point of humans and from God’s point of view, too. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I think it’s good to take a deep look at trust (and trust issues, too).

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind? (#BestOf)

Posted on June 26, 2014 by chaplaineliza

TRUST

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

Today was the last Wednesday bible study for the spring. I finished the series on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ last week, so I needed an additional study for this last day. I decided to have the group take a quick look at one of my favorite passages. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verses that begin “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I broke these two verses down into four parts. We had great discussion, as a result! And the verses sparked some excellent back-and-forth conversation, too.

Our discussion of the morning caused me to think more deeply about the word “trust.” A caution: this post is not one of my usual lighthearted posts. I’m going to speak about a serious, even hurtful, idea.

It is hard to trust sometimes. This lack of trust, and at times a clear distrust, can come from any one of a number of sources. Circumstances in life might affect individuals. Problems with the family or loved ones can affect trust. Bad treatment from friends, classmates, or people in authority can also be a factor. And then there are special situations, such as severe trauma, various kinds of abuse, mental health issues, repeated extreme grief, and others.

Any one of these situations can cause lack of trust. Certainly, we can trace back difficulties with people to our trust issues.

But—what about trust issues with God?

I know people do have problems with God. Especially when they are completely puzzled with God’s seeming lack of response to prayer. Or God’s seeming helplessness in the face of evil, the lack of morality in this world, and the despicable words and actions of both individuals and groups all over.

Sure, I could go into the theological reasons why there is sin in the world. And I could go over several of the theories concerning theodicy (that is, reasons why God allows bad things to happen to good people, to paraphrase the name of Rabbi Kushner’s book). But, I won’t. I trust God. At least, I try to trust God, each and every day. God has never failed me yet. Sure, I have been disappointed many times in life. Sure, awful things have happened to me and to my loved ones. Yet, God will continue to be right by my side. Even when it’s dark and I can’t see. Even when I doubt whether God is even there. Because—that is the nature of God. The loving, caring, giving, encouraging, nurturing nature of God.

It is when I have trust within me, for God and for other people, that I find I can more easily be kind. If I’m suspicious of others, or anxious about employment or health issues, or worried about my extended family and their individual situations, I can’t be of service to God. Not very well, anyhow!

When I trust in God and in other people (wisely, understanding how much blind trust is too much), then I have the opportunity—the joy to be kind to others. Please, God, help me in this endeavor!

@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 meditation journey through Easter and beyond. #PursuePEACE. Pursuing Peace – Thanks!)

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


 

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Being Kind? With a Teacher and a Computer!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Saturday, August 9, 2014

yoga illustration  from dreamstime.com

yoga illustration
from dreamstime.com

Being Kind? With a Teacher and a Computer!

This being a Saturday, I went to the YMCA this morning for yoga class.

Have I mentioned that I just love my yoga class? And I love my yoga teacher. Awesome, helpful, patient. Her classes usually fill the large room, yet she keeps an eagle eye on all of the class members. In a good way, though. Three weeks ago, I moved up from the beginner class to the intermediate level. (I feel very much at the low end of the class. But, I can do almost all the poses now!) The class was doing the plow pose. On your shoulders, arms supporting the back perpendicular to the floor, and legs straight as you can make them, over your head. It’s only the second time in my life that I have ever done a plow pose.

As the teacher walked about the room, she came over and assisted me to try a variation. And then she continued to lead the class in the next poses. I exchanged a few words with her outside of the locker room, after the class. She encouraged me in continuing with yoga, and said she had noticed my improvement. (Such a kind thing to say!) She also said that I needed trust in myself and my own body. I responded, and told her what a tremendous teacher she was. I mentioned, “How important it is to have trust in a teacher. Like you,” I finished, with a big smile. And—I meant it!

I needed to stop by my work after I left the gym. I swung by to pick up my daughter, on the way to do several other errands. We drove out to the church, admiring the forest preserves on the way, too. It’s August. School time will be upon us before anyone knows it. My daughter is going away to college in less than two weeks, so I am glad to be able to spend what time that I can with her.

After I talked with another church member for a little while, I turned on the computer at the office manager’s desk. I don’t appreciate Windows 8, and unfortunately, that is the operating system installed. The church member and I were commiserating about Windows 8, and he mentioned that he was going to try to install Windows 8.1. I had a sudden idea. My daughter—the maven of computers and social media—was in the next room. (She was sitting in my office, on her laptop.) She obligingly downloaded the 8.1 update! Both the church member and I thanked her so much. I truly appreciate those who have comprehensive and extensive knowledge about areas where I am—at best—an advanced beginner.

So, people are kind to me each day! And I try to be kind, too. It certainly helps to make things run more smoothly. In terms of communication, operation, and personal interaction. God, thanks for showing me more great examples of kindness today.

@chaplaineliza

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

Challenging Service, in Chicago (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, August 8, 2014

father gave me a gift-belief in me

Challenging Service, in Chicago (Feature Friday!)

Today is Friday, and it’s time for another Feature Friday. Except—this Friday feature is more challenging than some in past months.

What would you do if you were orphaned as a small child, and had no other close relatives? Or, how would life be different for you if you grew up in a poverty-stricken, single-parent household? What other serious events or continuing situations could radically change your story?  Would that fundamentally change how you grew up? Who you were, and more importantly, who you became?

This Feature Friday post tells about Emmaus Ministries, “Ministering to men in prostitution since 1990.” (according to their website) One big part of the ministry is trust and respect. Always in pairs, walking the streets alongside of the men. Coming alongside and listening to their stories. Stories are powerful. Everyone has a story, but some people cannot tell their stories. The people at Emmaus Ministries go out of their way to find out about the stories—sometimes difficult and traumatic, often painful—from the men on the street. As these relationships of trust and respect grow, the workers at Emmaus help the men to take steps to get off the streets, into a more stable place and position in their lives.

Some on-the-street experiences come from the founder of Emmaus Ministries, John Green. “Streetwalking with Jesus,” a book written by John Green with Dawn Herzog Jewell, vividly tells about justice and mercy. As he reflects on Micah 6:8, Green deals with such questions as “how do I live justly? To whom do I show mercy?  How may I walk humbly with God?” Working with male prostitutes is truly a challenge. And, a merciful and just way to live out the Good News.

The stories can involve addiction and alcoholism. Long-term unemployment (both for the men as well as their families). Homelessness. Other forms of instability and hardship, trauma and violence. Sometimes, several of these difficult items come into the stories. But the workers and volunteers at Emmaus Ministries are there to listen with compassion, to try to understand, and to help where they can. For example, on Emmaus’ blog, a recently-released person expressed his gratitude for the letters and calls that came to the prison for him. In fact, they were the only calls and visits this man had, from anyone, while he was imprisoned. Talk about gratitude!

Just having the opportunity to say you’re sorry? Or, I’m grateful? Or, I’m so afraid? Emotions! Scary, unpredictable! Sometimes; though, taking advantage of that blessing means so much. If you came from a shaky foster family, or a dysfunctional family in extreme poverty, this relationship with the workers at Emmaus sometimes might be the first healthy relationship they have had with another adult.

God bless every person blessed by Emmaus Ministry! And God be with those who will be in sme trial or tribulation. God, please! In your mystery, compassion and love, be with every person as they go about their business. Help Emmaus workers point many people to God, and let everyone know that Emmaus Ministries is truly a loving, caring, and worthwhile ministry.

@chaplaineliza

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

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, June 25, 2014

a faithful God

Can I Trust? Can I Be Kind?

Today was the last Wednesday bible study for the spring. I finished the series on the post-Resurrection appearances of Christ last week, so I needed an additional study for this last day. I decided to have the group take a quick look at one of my favorite passages. Proverbs 3:5-6. The verses that begin “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I broke these two verses down into four parts. We had great discussion, as a result! And the verses sparked some excellent back-and-forth conversation, too.

Our discussion of the morning caused me to think more deeply about the word “trust.” A caution: this post is not one of my usual lighthearted posts. I’m going to speak about a serious, even hurtful, idea.

It is hard to trust sometimes. This lack of trust, and at times a clear distrust, can come from any one of a number of sources. Circumstances in life might affect individuals. Problems with the family or loved ones can affect trust. Bad treatment from friends, classmates, or people in authority can also be a factor. And then there are special situations, such as severe trauma, various kinds of abuse, mental health issues, repeated extreme grief, and others.

Any one of these situations can cause lack of trust. Certainly, we can trace back difficulties with people to our trust issues.

But—what about trust issues with God?

I know people do have problems with God. Especially when they are completely puzzled with God’s seeming lack of response to prayer. Or God’s seeming helplessness in the face of evil, the lack of morality in this world, and the despicable words and actions of both individuals and groups all over.

Sure, I could go into the theological reasons why there is sin in the world. And I could go over several of the theories concerning theodicy (that is, reasons why God allows bad things to happen to good people, to paraphrase the name of Rabbi Kushner’s book). But, I won’t. I trust God. At least, I try to trust God, each and every day. God has never failed me yet. Sure, I have been disappointed many times in life. Sure, awful things have happened to me and to my loved ones. Yet, God will continue to be right by my side. Even when it’s dark and I can’t see. Even when I doubt whether God is even there. Because—that is the nature of God. The loving, caring, giving, encouraging, nurturing nature of God.

It is when I have trust within me, for God and for other people, that I find I can more easily be kind. If I’m suspicious of others, or anxious about employment or health issues, or worried about my extended family and their individual situations, I can’t be of service to God. Not very well, anyhow!

When I trust in God and in other people (wisely, understanding how much blind trust is too much), then I have the opportunity—the joy to be kind to others. Please, God, help me in this endeavor!

@chaplaineliza

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

 

How to Serve—As an Editor

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, May 5, 2014

SERVE serve one another Eph 4-11

How to Serve—As an Editor

What a challenge—stuck to the computer screen all day! No, actually, I didn’t spend the whole day stuck here! Only about half of it. (I wish you could see my wink and sly grin right now. Describing them will have to suffice, I’m afraid. Disappointing that humorous facial expressions and snarky vocal inflections don’t translate well through the Internet.) However, I was quite serious today when I offered some editorial comments on the research article of a friend of mine. The article was sent halfway around the world! He and a colleague prepared it for possible publication, and he asked me to read it through. And make pertinent comments, if I saw fit.

Usually, I am a touchy-feely, pastoral-care-type of person. That’s an important aspect of me and my character. But I am much more than merely that. True, I can appreciate how certain aspects of pastoral care are so natural to me, it’s like falling off the proverbial log. But did you know that I worked for almost four school years at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Department of Psychiatry, at the College of Medicine? I served as instructor and coordinator of a small online program. And, I taught a number of people, at the College and beyond. I helped write and refine the online course with day-to-day signs, tests, presentations, and speeches.

But what about the article I commented on today? Well, I saw how much there was that was truly important, in terms of the article from a health care perspective. I advised my friend that I honestly couldn’t accept anything additional, in terms of money. If I had needed to tear something apart, in a serious enough manner, I would have reconsidered, and asked for some financial return. But, today? I willingly pitched in. I found out some fascinating things about health care, and that was enough for me.

A lot of trust was displayed today, trust, openness and honesty. In terms of the primary author, he offered me the opportunity to read his brand new article! And, I willingly tried to be of service to my friend. Just as at church or mission conferences in the church, quick and close relationships are often the norm. We don’t have any time to lose. Let’s take advantage of the chance to serve. The chance to be kind. The chance to be helpful and hopeful.

I sent a detailed email to my friend, page by page. Nothing, really, to change in terms of grammar, syntax, or any correction in word choice. However, I had a good deal to do, in terms of encouragement and helpful comments. I hope my email was informative and instructive. God willing.

Gracious, I feel like dusting off my hands in satisfaction. Good, workmanlike job done by my friend and his colleague! Hmm. I wonder what God will send me tomorrow?

@chaplaineliza

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

In Which I Encourage Others at a Conference

A Year of Being Kind blog –Tuesday, March 18, 2014

drawing people at conference

In Which I Encourage Others at a Conference

I am at a conference for the next few days. I love being with fellow professionals, 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.)

The continuing education conference is twice a year. Once in the spring, west of O’Hare Airport and Chicago, proper. And again in the fall, downstate in Springfield. I know, it’s not exactly the usual thing I blog about. But then, I have many and varied interests, from music to theology, from history to animals, from arts and handcrafts to all kinds of vehicles.

After the opening session in the morning, we had several all-day seminars. The one I attended featured Positive Psychology and what bearing it has on drug and alcohol counseling. Well, that was the day’s starting point—but there was a great deal more than just that! Fascinating subject, and even more fascinating presentation. (Thank you, David Folkes!) Actually, positive psychology is just that; instead of the study of messed-up functioning of mental health and aberrations of various people’s thoughts and actions, positive psychology concentrates on beneficial functioning! Good, properly-working mental health! Such a refreshing, encouraging study!

I discovered quite a lot of things that will help me in my new position as interim co-pastor. Helpful aspects of individual and group interaction, from a positive and encouraging angle. However, I want to get to the service part of my post today. We did have about seven dozen counselors and social worker-types in a large room today. So we were used to interacting with others in our day-to-day work. I was still surprised at how quickly just about everyone got involved in the group activities. The presenter asked everyone to break up into groups of two and three. Amazing how cohesive the small pairs and trios of people became—almost instantly!

Just as I willingly pitched in, and opened up to the other two people, they did the same! A lot of trust was displayed in that room today, trust, openness and honesty. I willingly tried to be of service in the workshop. Just as at church or mission conferences in the church, quick and close relationships are often the norm. So, too, with this professional and educational gathering. Encouraging and beneficial treatment of each other helps each of us—in whatever sphere we happen to be in.

I am further reminded that there is no “right way” or “only way” to show the love of God. Yes, I am allowed to display kindness and friendliness, even at a professional conference where I only know three or four other people among four hundred people. (If Jesus were in a similar position, What Would Jesus Do?)  Hmm. If I had a big flashlight in a dark place, what would Jesus suggest I do with it? Would He tell me to keep to myself and shut off my flashlight? Or would He be pleased if I offered my flashlight to others for their help and service? Hmm. What do you think?

@chaplaineliza

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