Category Archives: kindness

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. . . .

Encouragement

One of my friends is going through a rough time at his job. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his job and does not intend to leave over the situation. However, he feels he is being unfairly singled out by some of his subordinates. We talked for a bit this morning. I reminded him that he is being singled out because he is ‘administration’ and those in authority are the most visible to employees with an axe to grind. As a fellow Jesus follower, I reminded him that other people are watching him – how is he going to handle this situation with his subordinates? If he talks the talk of being a Christian, is he going to walk the walk when the walking gets hard?

I also reminded him that he is not in his position of authority by chance. Like Mordecai told Esther (in the Old Testament Book of Esther), “You are here for such a time as this”. Why is my friend in a position of authority at his job? He told me that one of his sons knows how stressful his job can be, so his son is watching how his father deals with the job stress. One of my friend’s subordinates is also watching him for the same reason as his son – how is my friend going to handle the rough situations that come his way? I told my friend that stressful situations give us an opportunity to run to God, to lay down our fears and anxieties before Him and let Him take care of them.

As I was talking to my friend, I remembered the two friends who helped me through my divorce and the years following. One of them was an encourager – she would read scripture to me, remind me of God’s grace, and listen to my wounded soul. She has a wonderful gift for encouraging others – in word and in deed.

If you are recently divorced, you may not feel like reaching into someone else’s life and encouraging them. You may wonder if you will ever be able to heal to the point of being able to encourage another person. I took a few moments this morning to pray with my friend. It was a small, sixty-second prayer, but he said it meant the world to him. Did I start my day knowing or asking that I would have the opportunity to encourage my friend? No. But I did know that as a follower of Jesus, I can pray for and encourage others, no matter how small my part might be. Take heart, dear one. You may never know the value that your few encouraging words may have in another’s life. Stay tuned . . . .

The Number of Our Days

I found out this morning that a former boss passed away back in November. She died of a stroke. She was only 45 years old. I am still in shock. She was a great boss.

We never know when we wake up in the morning if this will be our last day on earth. We never know what’s going to happen. God numbers our days. He alone knows how many we have. How do we live our lives in such a manner that we will be prepared for ‘the day’ when it comes?

1. Banish anger and bitterness: For most of my marriage, I was a very angry person. I woke up angry, stayed angry throughout the day and went to bed angry. After my divorce, I became incredibly bitter. Were my emotions affecting ex, the person they were directed to? Heavens, no! Those negative emotions were killing me! Holding onto anger and bitterness is senseless. Let it go.

2. Practice random acts of kindness: Next time you’re at the grocery store and there is an elderly person ahead of or behind you, pay for their groceries. Donate some dog or cat food to your nearest animal shelter. Rake the leaves in your neighbor’s yard. Go out of your way to be kind to a stranger.

3. Be generous with your time, money and resources: Do you have enough to live on – to cover your needs (not necessarily your wants)? Do you find that you have several hours of free time on the weekend? Donate to a cause, volunteer, take your unwanted stuff to a local thrift store. Whatever you have you can’t take with you. You may as well use it up while you’re still living!

4. Cultivate compassion: Don’t be so quick to lose your temper or to speak out of turn. Resolve to listen to others, to hear their heart, their passion and their dreams. Be an encouragement to others. Be quick to serve others.

5. Smile more: I think if more people smiled, it would lighten the mood that so often seems to bring us down. Have you ever watched the other drivers on your way to work? Those who are not on their phone are usually scowling. Smile in rush hour traffic. Smile as you walk down the hallway at work. Smile when you answer the phone! Smile – it increases your face value and makes people wonder what you’re up to.

6. Say “I love you”: Every day before Cycle Dude goes to work, I tell him I love him. Every time I talk to one of my children, my mom or my siblings, I tell them I love them. Do not hesitate to tell those you love that you love them. Don’t worry if it sounds ‘sappy’. You may not get another chance.

Life is waaay to short to spend it ill-tempered, harboring a grudge, hoarding your stuff or looking like an old sourpuss! Make your family and friends glad to know you! Leave them with good memories. Live one day at a time because it may be the last one you have. Stay tuned . . .

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

One of my favorite Christian artists, Wayne Watson, sings a song, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”. The song is about an old violin that seems worthless until played by a master. I love the song because it reminds me that even when others think we are worthless, our Heavenly Father tells us we are of great value. After all, didn’t He send His only begotten Son to bring us back to Him? Zephaniah 3:17 says:

“The Lord your God is with you, the Might Warrior who saves. He will take delight in you; in His love, He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Enduring a divorce is painful, especially if you were rejected by your spouse and faced any kind of abuse. It can be such a dark place that only seems to get darker. There are days when you feel like you are so far at the bottom of the well, that you can’t climb out and you can’t see daylight. Dear one, know that in those places, Christ is with you. His heart also breaks at your abuse, mistreatment and abandonment. That’s not what He intended for marriage.

If you are in that place today, dark and dangerous, send up an arrow prayer of “Help me”. Don’t be afraid to venture out into a support group. There are many women who have been where you are. They have come out of the dark places and have experienced the grace and love of Christ. Even though you may be tempted because of a lack of confidence, don’t, don’t, don’t isolate yourself!

Sister, let me be your encouragement. You are an amazing woman! You have come this far, haven’t you? Continue to climb out into the daylight. I wish I could share with each one of you the amazing spring day here in Mytown. It is absolutely glorious! Today is the spring day all other spring days should emulate.

Take heart, my friend. The way seems dark now, but keep moving forward. There is healing in the journey. You are priceless! Stay tuned . . .

You Can’t Please Everyone

Years ago, as a young Christian mother and wife, I allowed others to tell me how I should act, parent and be a partner to my (ex) husband. I let others’ interpretation of the Bible, others’ opinion of what it meant to be a “Christian” parent and spouse, and others’ opinion of me guide the decisions I made in my life. Looking back, I can see where that led me to making wrong decisions. I did not trust my own discernment, my “gut” feeling, but I made a decision based on what others told me was best for me.

Tomorrow, I will be moving in with Cycle Dude. That decision has caused quite a ruckus in a certain group of people in my life. I understand why. I also understand that I will never please everyone. I tried that once and it had dire consequences. I am the only one who knows my history – with ex-husband, with “well-meaning” friends and with Cycle Dude. I can honestly say that in the last six years, Cycle Dude has shown me more unconditional love than any community of faith I have been in.

Does that mean I walk away from my faith? No. It means I explore my faith even further. Now, I can hear some say, “You will never find a perfect community of faith”, and “By being part of a community of faith, you subject yourself to their ‘rules’.” I agree.  However, at this point in my life, I feel like I need to make decisions based on what is best for me and Cycle Dude. Not sure what that will look like going forward, but I am looking forward to finding out.

All my life I have made decisions based on the good of others – which is how it should be when one has a family. But now that I am an empty nester, I need to make decisions based on what is good for me. In 1985, Rick Nelson sang a song entitled, “Garden Party”. The chorus is; But it’s alright now, I learned my lesson well. You see, you can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.

At the end of the day, I have to be able to put my head down on the pillow and know that I did my best, showed God’s love and grace to others, and loved well. Stay tuned. . . .

 

Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions – Relationships, Part 2

There is a saying, “Make new friends and keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” I found out that after my divorce many of my friends were gone. People I had known with my ex just seemed to evaporate into thin air. There were a couple friends that remained in contact. One of my friends I have known since 2003. She had been a rock for me through the divorce.

Sometimes, friendships just drift away and there is nothing you can do about it. People change, places change and one just has to ‘roll with the punches’. How do we continue to nurture those old friendships in spite of the pain we feel from the divorce?

1. Re-evaluate: Friends who like you for you and not because of your ex will most likely stick around. Those who drift away because of the divorce perhaps weren’t that close to you after all. You know who your real friends are when you’re standing waist deep  in mud and covered with poop. Hard times in our lives tend to feel like that. True friends will get in the mud with you and help you clean off the poop.

2. Be intentional: The friend I mentioned above recently retired. I can’t call her every day at work. She is feeling overwhelmed because of being retired, not really wanting to be retired, and having to get all her ducks in a row. I text her daily or every other day. I need to be intentional with her, to continue to cultivate out friendship, to polish that gold. Continue to invest in those gold relationships.

3. Give: Send an occasional note in the mail, call for no reason, send flowers for her birthday (even if it isn’t her birthday!), let those friends know you are thinking about them. I even do this with my children. I have known my children for over 30 years – they are those gold relationships that are worth the investment of my time and energy.

4. Accept: Friends may not know what to say or how to give to you after a divorce. That’s okay. Accept that they may feel awkward. Accept that they may be distant and silent because they feel uncomfortable. Accept that you will most likely have to make the first move to reconnect with them.

5. Be kind and merciful: No one is perfect. Extend grace to your friends. Reach out to them when God puts them on your heart. Pray for them.

God doesn’t want us to walk through this life alone. That’s why He gave Eve to Adam. That’s why the twelve disciples lived in community with Jesus. That’s why we have friends and loved ones – people who care about us even when we are at our worst.

I challenge you today, dear one. Have you been thinking about someone, a friend? Send them a text msg, pick up the phone and call them, write them a note and send it snail mail. Friends are the gold in our lives. Stay tuned. . . .