Category Archives: humility

Be Willing

I enjoy my job. I know not many people can say that. The reason I enjoy my job is that it gives me an opportunity to serve others so they can do their jobs well. I also get unplanned opportunities to pray with people and share the love of Christ. There have been times when I’ve been in line at the cafeteria and I’ve felt compelled to pay for the meal for the person behind me. That shocks people!

Why would I do things that are so radical – pray for a total stranger in the hallway of the hospital or pay for a stranger’s meal? I pray on my way to work (my commute is 40 minutes). I pray to be willing to hear God’s voice and do what He tells me. Philippians 2:13 says, “For it is God who works in you both to will and then to do His good pleasure.” The Holy Spirit motivates me to want to do and then to actually do what He tells me. (This is NOT a woo-woo kind of thing, nor is it doing violent acts in the name of Christ.) It is living my life as a believer in Jesus.

Sometimes being willing to do what He asks of me is risky – what if that person doesn’t want me to pray with them (that’s happened before)? What if that homeless person throws away the food I just bought for them? Now, mind you, I don’t do things that would put myself or someone else in harm’s way. I’m willing, not stupid. Sometimes I don’t act on what I feel Christ has asked me to do because I feel silly or I doubt I actually heard right in the first place. That’s okay. I do know that the voice of God will never contradict the Word of God.

Be willing to step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to hear the voice of God. Be willing to allow Him to use you to show a broken world that He so loved the world. Stay tuned. . . .

 

The Humility of Compassion

I normally don’t post twice in one day, but I just had an experience I need to share. It relates to a larger characteristic I wish I would see more of.

My boss is gone on vacation this week, so I have been taking advantage of the time and walking around the campus at Myjob twice a day. This afternoon, as I was walking by one of the medical buildings, I saw a young family in front of me. I expected them to turn into one of the buildings, but they kept going. I soon realized they were lost. I asked if I could help them find something. When they responded in the affirmative, I took them to where they needed to go. She was pregnant and they were going to her doctor’s appointment. I made sure we took the ‘inside way’ to the correct medical building because it’s turning into a hot day here in Mytown and I knew she’d be uncomfortable continuing to walk outside.

So why was this act humbling and compassionate? The family did not know English very well. They had a map and a confirmation receipt for the mother’s doctor’s appointment. I had to rely on them to tell me where they needed to go. In spite of what I tell my children, I don’t know everything. It was humbling to follow their lead. Why compassionate? The family was lost and it was hot outside – I made sure they found their way and didn’t get lost. I told the dad I was taking him through the building because it was cooler for his family.

There are many people who wrap their acts of compassion in the banner of self-promotion. “Look what I did to help this person or this animal. Aren’t I such a wonderful person?!” Jesus told the story of two men who went to the synagogue to pray – one man was rich and known for his riches. The other man was a tax collector and people despised him. The rich man prayed in a loud voice so the room full of people could hear him. “Oh, God, I thank you that I am not like the sinners – adulterers, tax collectors, cheaters. See how I fast twice a day and give my tithes to the church!” The tax collector stood in a back corner of the room and bowed his head in shame. “Oh, God. Be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” (Luke 18:10-13) Jesus admonished His disciples and said the tax collector was the better of the two men. Why? Because he prayed (acted) in humility.

When we act out of compassion, we experience humility when we quietly perform our deed. The very action of compassion itself is humbling because we must step outside of our comfort zone to do what we know is right. Was it right to let that family continue to wander around in the hot sun when the mom was so pregnant? No, of course not! The right thing to do was to make sure they got into a cool building and found the doctor’s office. You might say, “Well, that’s just being kind!” Yes, it is. What you don’t know is that this family was of an ethnicity I have expressed a strong dislike for in the past. I had to shove that aside and ask, “How may I be of service to you?”

Humility is stepping outside of ourselves and putting others first. Compassion is showing care for another person (or animal) by serving them as Christ served us. (Matthew 20:28: ‘The Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve. . . .”) Don’t be afraid to humble yourself and serve others in the love of Christ. Stay tuned. . . .

The Last Day of Your Life

Whenever I hear of a loss of life, whatever the situation, I always think, “Did they (the people involved) know that was going to be their last day on earth?” Most likely, the answer is “No”. I know this may be a rather macabre subject, but I have a purpose in this post.

The years and days leading up to my divorce were dark – I have shared before that I walked around angry all the time. I was bitter, easily agitated, and not very much fun to be around. Some folks would have cheered my passing during that time! I wasn’t much better immediately following the divorce.

It takes me 40 minutes to get to work since I moved in with Cycle Dude. That gives me a great deal of time to pray, think about life and listen to worship music. This morning on my way in to work, I thought about the phrase, “The Last Day of Your Life” and what it means. I thought, what would most people do if they knew when they woke up this morning that it was the last day of their lives? Would they be more compassionate, more kind and generous? Then I thought, we ought to live our lives like that anyway.

Why wait until death is near to be a good person? To have faith in God? To show unconditional love to others? We should live each day like it’s our last. Yes, it’s easy to get angry, to be irritated by the hatred and evil we see around us. But what if we lived each day with a little more compassion, with a kind word on our lips, with a grateful and generous heart? We may not make a difference in the entire world, but we will make a difference in our small corner of the world.

Psalm 90, verse 12 states: “Teach us to number our days, that we may have a heart of wisdom.” And again in Psalm 139, verse 16: “You saw my unformed body. . . You knew the number of my days before there was one of them. . . .”. Whether or not we know the number of our days, God knows. We are to live our lives with wisdom, being selfless instead of being selfish. Instead of living our days for ourselves – in a self-centered, grab-all-I-can for me, me, me lifestyle – why don’t we live our lives in such a way that shows the love of God, or our belief in the goodness of humanity? Whenever we depart this world, we will leave all our stuff behind. I don’t want to be remembered for amount of stuff I had, but for the amount of love I showed. Stay tuned. . . .

A Broken Vessel

Many people have heard of or watched “The Brady Bunch”. If you aren’t familiar with the TV show, google it. There was one episode where Bobby and Peter were playing basketball in their room. Peter makes a break for the wastebasket, which is located by the bedroom door, misses it and the ball bounces out of the room. Looking like it has a mind of its own, the ball bounces down the hallway, down a couple of stairs and right onto one of Carol Brady’s favorite vases, smashing it to pieces. Of course, the kids are all aflutter over the broken vase (as only the Brady kids can be) and set about trying to remedy the situation. They get some “fast setting” glue and repair the vase. However, Mike Brady comes home from work with flowers for Carol. The glue has not had time enough to set, but the kids don’t let on that anything is wrong. Carol fills the vase with water, puts the flowers in the vase and places it in the middle of the dining room table so the family can enjoy the flowers while they eat dinner. Soon, the vase begins to sprout leaks and looks more like a fountain than a vase. Of course, the Brady kids all claim ignorance of the whole situation.

Sometimes, we are like that broken vessel. Something happens to wound us and we try to fix ourselves with fast acting glue; “His words didn’t mean anything to me.”, “That’s just how she is.”, “Things will look better tomorrow.” The more we try to “fix it” ourselves, the more leaks we sprout, the more we hemorrhage emotionally. We finally get to the place where we fall apart.

This world tells us that we cannot be broken, that we will be useless if we show weakness, that no one will like us if they knew the “real” us – the person underneath the tough exterior. Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus accepts us in our brokenness. In God’s economy, we function better when we are broken. It’s difficult to explain and even more difficult to understand.

God uses broken vessels. When we are broken, we are imperfect, vulnerable, pliable. We are free for God to fix. The thing is, He will not put us back together the way we were. He will make something totally different out of our pain. I am not the same person today that I was when I got divorced six years ago. I am different. I was broken and God is putting me back together. I may look the same on the outside, but I not the same on the inside. I have shared before about how I am much more compassionate, generous and happy.

So, when life smashes into you like a wayward basketball, pick up the pieces, take them to God and let Him put you back together. You’ll be surprised at what He does! Stay tuned . . . .

Don’t Be Afraid to be Who You Are, Where You Are.

In the Bible, the Book of Esther tells the story of a beautiful young Jewish woman who became queen to a king named Ahasuerus. King Ahasuerus was not Jewish. Esther went into the king’s court and found favor with him as his queen. The Jewish people were being persecuted by King Ahasuerus’ right hand man, Haman. Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, told her that God had placed her in King Ahasuerus’ court as his queen “for such a time as this”. The story has a good ending – the Jewish people are saved, Mordecai is honored by the king and the evil Haman is killed.

In the story, Esther was a simple young Jewish woman who caught the attention of the most powerful man in the land, the king. She used her favor with the king to save her people from certain annihilation. You don’t have to be a beautiful young woman who catches the eye of a powerful man to make a difference in your world.

Simply be who you are. You may look in the mirror and think, “Who am I? I am nothing. I have nothing.” Dear one, Christ looks at you and says, “Here is my beloved. She is altogether beautiful!” I felt dirty and dejected after my divorce. I did not feel like anyone’s ‘beloved’. Yet, the power of God shown to me through two wonderful friends and a compassionate pastor, transformed me.

God isn’t done with me yet and I am still ‘under construction’,  but He has used the crucible of divorce to refine me. Am I perfect? Heaven’s no! But I am not afraid to be who He has made to be – a servant, an encourager, a loving sister to other Christian women. Right now, I work in a hospital in the Southeast. Who knows? He might move me one of these days and take me somewhere else where He wants to use me.

You know the saying, “Bloom where you’re planted”? You may not feel like blooming nor might you feel like you’ve been planted in a very good place. But God is control. Just as He directed Esther to King Ahasuerus’ court to save her people, so He has directed you to where you are. Why? Because there is someone in your neighborhood who needs to hear what you have to say about your experiences. There is someone at your job who needs to see compassion or service. There is someone in your life who needs an understanding hug.

Don’t be afraid to be who you are – scars and warts and all! God sees you in your pain and He says you are beautiful. God has placed you where you are for such a time as this. Raise your hands and praise Him and bloom like the dickens!! Stay tuned. . . .

What You Don’t Know

I recently took a trip out-of-state to make amends with a family member that I have not gotten along with. We had a good talk. There were many things I learned about that family member – things that affected the way she responded to me and others. What I had thought was merely a foul disposition on her part was really a defensive reaction due to an incident in her past. What I didn’t know about her caused me to think poorly of her.

Like it or not, we are often victims of our past. As much as we try to get past the hurts and disappointments of our past, they still affect us. For example, if you want to piss me off real bad, real quick just blame me for something I didn’t do or didn’t have any control over. Ex did that all the time. His parents even blamed me for his actions! Really?! However, if someone didn’t know that about me and they blamed me for something, I would get angry very quickly. My defensiveness in turn would cause them to be defensive and the whole thing could spiral out of control from there.

My sister and her husband have learned to look beyond the initial anger, fear, or other negative emotion to ask what is really causing that emotion in the other person. Perhaps it is the result of a bad day at work, or something negative someone said to them earlier in the day. You never know where someone is coming from until you take the time to find out.

What you don’t know (about the person you are speaking to) can hurt you – and them as well. It’s hard in the midst of a disagreement to stop and say, “What’s really going on here?” Lashing out in anger is often a reaction to something else, like the frustration of having one’s goals blocked, or being misunderstood in communication, etc. The wise person is not the person who fights back, hoping to win the argument. The wise person is the one who takes the time to uncover the real issue, the real reason for the disagreement. When we take the time to deal with one another with grace and compassion, we will find that we get to know the other person and ourselves better. Stay tuned . . .

Doing the Right Thing Isn’t Always Easy

I have blogged prior about my intended trip to another state to make peace with a family member. That happened this past weekend. I can’t say I was apprehensive about it because I knew the love of Christ compelled me to go and speak to my family member. However, I was at a loss as to what I would say. Fortunately, I was able to fly and did not have to drive. On the flight, I journaled some of my thoughts and I looked up what scripture says about loving others. Instead of searching for the right words, I read from my journal.

Prior to my trip, I had several people ask me, “You’re going all that way just to make peace? Is your family member dying?” Yes, I was going all that way to do the right thing. No, my family member wasn’t dying, but why wait until that happens? Why does impending death need to be an excuse to make things right?

Doing the right thing is very often uncomfortable. It requires us to admit our weaknesses, to be vulnerable, and often, to be at the mercy of another person. However, we are only responsible for our part of doing what is right. We are not responsible for another’s response to us. There was a very real possibility that my family member could have rejected me and what I had to say. If that had been the case, I would still be okay because I knew that I had gone to do what I felt I needed to do.

Now my friends are telling me what I did was truly admirable. No, not really. I did what I knew to be the right thing. I knew that I had to ask my family member for forgiveness. At first, I was apprehensive. But the more I prayed about it, talked to a trusted friend and trusted God, the more I knew it would turn out well.

Not many people take the initiative to do the right thing when it is uncomfortable. We don’t want to be vulnerable to someone else, we don’t want to admit our mistakes and let others see our weaknesses, we don’t want to admit we were (are) wrong. Yet, Christ came to us in total humility and we need to go to others the same way. If you feel compelled to do the right thing and are apprehensive about it, take heart. Pray, ask others to pray, and trust that you are doing what you are supposed to do. Stay tuned . . . .