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Kindness Costs

There’s a graciousness in silent kindness.

A simple act of assisting another person can be quickly the perfect rescue in a stressful situation. It can melt tension that stubbornly stands in the way of a peaceful transaction. There may be a cost to this grace – an act misinterpreted, confusion, inconvenience, rebellion – but, I’m here to tell you… it’s worth it.

SCENARIO 1

I watched a man extend himself to me with this gracious, silent kindness during a flight boarding. He was helping me put my bag in the overhead bin. When he adjusted the orientation of the unmarked adjacent bag so mine could fit, the flight attendant aggressively questioned him:

“What are you doing? What are you doing?”

As the man explained that he was helping me, the flight attendant talked over him:

“That is my bag…”

This repeated for about five seconds (which felt like forever as I watched it happen). I knew I had to interject with some cold-watered words.

“He was helping me. We did not know that it was your bag,” I said slowly and firmly, looking directly into his eyes.

The flight attendant calmed down a bit and the kind passenger removed his hands from my bag, then stepped away with his hands up. He apologized to the flight attendant as he took his seat. I agreed with the him that the flight attendant’s reaction was unnecessary as I sat in mine. Then, the flight attendant proceeded to explain himself to us.

“People have tried to take our luggage before. You wouldn’t believe it…”

But his words were floating lifelessly in our ocean of disgust, visible for him to retrieve. The damage had already been done. The transaction was complete, and there was still no apology bobbing around his explanation. I wasn’t interested in any further interaction with him. I prepared my 2nd carry-on bag for the overhead storage across the aisle (after retrieving my notebook and pen, of course). The same gentleman let me know of a quick empty spot and I stored it there.

I thought of how often we mistake kindness as obtrusive and reflected on a previous moment during my trip.

SCENARIO 2

A young boy (about 6-years-old) complimented our hair as he walked by our restaurant table Friday morning  and the woman that walked with him scorned him loudly for “disrupting our breakfast.” When I realized his sweet voice saying “I like your hair” was directed toward us, he had already been accompanied by a relative to their vehicle while another adult woman paid the cashier.

I saw the gap and seized the moment.

I walked outside to their car and asked if the boy was talking to us earlier. The non-scornful woman said yes, and I asked if I could properly accept his compliment and thank him for his sincerity. She agreed. When I opened the door (he was struggling with it a little… lol), there was a mixture of confusion and excitement on his face. He had a visitor! I hugged him so tight that I could feel him breathe and his little heart beat with joy. Then I thanked him for his sweet courage to say his compliment aloud. I encouraged him to keep respecting women and to keep being kind. I blessed him and spoke over his life to uproot the sting of the scorn from the woman paying the cashier. It may have appeared inconvenient or obtrusive to our mealtime, but kindness can be that way sometimes…

THE LESSON

Kindness is an extension of Love – and love is not convenient and obscure. It shows itself in more ways than one and those ways can be expensive. A sacrifice lies in there somewhere. Within every act of gracious kindness – whether loud or silent – there is a cost for it to be manifested. For the flight passenger, it was public conflict. For the boy, it was public shaming. Either way, love was extended and the cost was paid… Just like Jesus’ life. He extended Himself with the biggest cost of all – His blood. (*humming* Oh, what Love He has for me…) So, if you’re ever in a situation where Love opportunities lie in wait, don’t be afraid to pay the cost and accept the receipt. Jump in the gap and let Love flow.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

I held it in my open-faced hands like gold from a Pharaoh’s tomb. It was here. Finally. And I was touching it with my soul.

The connection I felt when I slid my fingers across the slick cover… it was an intimate moment. I had done it. I had published a book. My book. The one that I started nine years ago after being laid off, wondering what I was going to do next. I thought I had found my dream job, but the garden in which it was located could no longer provide financial fruit. The book was my private little project. For awhile, no one even knew that I was writing. It was preciously scary. I didn’t want to contaminate the imaginative outcome I steadily played out in my head – girl writes book, book does well, girl gets paid, girl travels the world and girl works for herself. It was a ludicrous movie that replayed over and over again and I didn’t want it stop, so I didn’t tell anyone. I kept the tickets to myself and attended my cerebral theater alone throughout graduate school, until she came. Nancy. A she-fox that would rock my planet with the belief that my little secret movie could be realized. Here she was in Birmingham, Alabama with a publishing company, books, paintings, jewelry, music… and all I could think was “How?” and “Can I do it too?” She forced me to see beyond my sight and work toward my vision. I let her in and she got a front row seat to my secret movie and didn’t flinch. She smiled and I felt safe. She began to share with me and I with her. I had a gained a friend and Shero.

I’ll never forget the thorns and rocks along this road, the people I’ve gained and lost, the tears I cried in angst, the prayers I repeated, the fear hovering  nearby in trees of doubt, and the joy I felt when I typed END on the manuscript. The breath I held the first time I gave it to her seemed to last forever, just like it did when I heard she died. I stopped walking along the road and let the vines grow into my secret theater. I didn’t want to write and it pained me to think about it. Spiritual cobwebs caught my words every time someone asked “So, how’s your book going?” I dreaded the answer. It was deathly to think of cracking the doors open and letting sunshine in the wounded halls of my heart… but I did. Now, my book, the fruit of hands, was sitting in my lap and it was seducing me. I wanted to open it up and enjoy the exterior all at the same time. After holding it next to my heart for a few minutes, I laughed at the rear view of the road to fruition. I couldn’t believe how faithful God had been. When He said that He would bless the work of my hands, I didn’t fathom that some days my hands would feel empty and barren. That materializing my thoughts wasn’t a lie I kept feeding myself. I was a writer. Always had been. In the back of my grandmother’s car was always a writing stick and some paper. I even found out along the road that my biological father wrote poetry. So, my secret movie wasn’t so secret after all.

We can all be discouraged as we peer down the road ahead and see the shadows of the unknown. But we have to keep going. We have cling to the truth that we are seeds and seeds have to buried and/or watered in order to fulfill their purpose. The dirt will be isolating and the water will make us feel like we’re drowning, but we are made from both elements, so we will not die. We will grow. We will thrive. We will live out loud. After all, someone needs the fruit that we are destined to produce. Keep dreaming, keep walking, and keep working, my friend. You’re on a road, not in a box.

Peace & Thanks for listening.

*By the way, I found this daffodil beauty along my walk this morning. Sweet.

#bloglikecrazy: Day 25 – Opposite Day

After reading Genesis 41:41-57 –

What if we did the opposite of what is expected? In times of opulence where more is more, what if we exercised the wisdom of restraint? Instead of gluttony and racing toward a fabricated finish line, what if our actions were governed by the Truth?

Joseph envisioned a day when years of plenty would run out, so he stored accordingly. Isn’t it interesting that the famine still occurred (it was predicated on his preparation), but Egypt wasn’t affected (which was predicated upon preparation)? The world was in the middle of the same timeline, but not experiencing the same thing. They were having opposite day because wisdom had her way for seven years. Then, to top everything else that was “a-plenty”, he was blessed with two sons. God must have known they would not lack as well because of Joseph’s track record of obedience. The truth was, if you read Joseph’s story, he had a lifetime of opposites and lived with flying colors (pun intended).

I love that last part – verse 54 – “but in all the land of Egypt, there was bread.” Even though times were shiny and bountiful, Joseph acted upon what He was shown… and stayed true to it. This resulted in a series of events that affected others positively. There was harvest in famine and all benefited…the economy, the families, and the leadership.

God keeps walking me down this “we’re all connected” trip. One act, one word, one person affects another. What we do now has a trickle down effect on the present and the future. Our obedience and disobedience makes pathways before us and others. I pray that I make a positive road as my obedience grows stronger. Then, I can be well on opposite day. When things aren’t lovely and plentiful, I can still smile.

What about you? Have you experienced moments of plenty and didn’t prepare for opposite day? What do you do differently now?

Peace & Thanks for listening!

Photo Courtesy of Bigstockphoto.com/Orla via timeanddate.com

#bloglikecrazy: Day 24 – All in One

– Another short stop to help us along –

It takes all parts to make a whole.

Just think about it. The gears in a machine. The ingredients in a recipe. The parts of a car. Rarely does something stand alone exceptionally with the assistance of another.

When I was a communication student in  college, I learned about Systems Theory which includes the following: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I never forgot it because it made so much sense to me. For some reason, humans forget this truth in times of trial or great joy.

For just a moment today, think of the pieces of you that built your thought patterns, behaviors, character, and skills. Now, take note of who is around you now that creates your current system. You’re in a prime place with people that can play pivotal roles in your life, even if it hurts. Unfortunately, if you get tunnel vision, you can get lost in your part without cherishing the whole. You can’t afford to do that.

You need each part of your body to create your unique human experience. One blood vessel, one cell, one muscle can throw everything out of sync. The body knows that it is a sum of parts and these parts are not greater than the purpose of the whole – to keep you functional. We need to see our interpersonal relationships with the same lenses.

1 Corinthians 12:11-26 discusses this concept of the body working together as an illustration of the body of Christ doing the same. It’s not a new idea. 😊

Here’s some tips to help you with this mode of thinking:

  1. Know your role and stick to it. It makes the system run better.
  2. Accept if you have more than one function. It’s OK. Some of your body parts do too.
  3. Be flexible. Remember that you’re all-in-one mindset may take a minute for others to get used to.
  4. Ask how you can help. You may be great at something that is simply not needed at that time. It doesn’t mean you’re dysfunctional; your skills just need to lay low for the moment. You have body parts that do that too, by the way.
  5. Be authentically well and unapologetically awesome. You can’t be a sick gear in the system. Check your pulse often. Seek opportunities to be the best in your role. Shine and pursue balance with the other parts.

Peace & Thanks for listening!

For more information on Systems Theory, visit the following link: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/introductiontocommunication/chapter/systems-theory-paradigm/

Photo courtesy of Clker.com

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