Recently I have grown to love crafting. I love creating things to decorate our home and to gift to friends. A few months ago I discovered that there are A LOT of crafting groups on Facebook. These are placed to share tips and tricks and exchange ideas. There are thousands of people who contribute to these groups, and I have been inspired by so many projects in these groups. My favorite thing about these groups is when crafters share a finished project that they are so very proud of. But, what I have noticed in several of those shares is that the crafter starts their post with “please be kind.” This makes me sad. Yes, it is scary to share a creation with such a big group of people, but it’s obvious that the crafter is proud of what they made – or they wouldn’t be sharing it in the first place! But they feel that they have to ASK people to be kind. And it got me thinking about the world in general. Since when should we have to ask people to be kind?!? Remember when courtesy was common? Remember when manners were the norm? I grew up in a family where please and thank you were the expectation for any request. What happened to people just naturally being kind to one another?
This may seem like a silly rant to some, but it has really troubled me. It is hard enough to exist in this troubled world as it is…shouldn’t we all be kind without having to be asked!? We all need to stop and think hard about our words and actions toward each other. Your kind word to a neighbor or coworker might just make a difference in their day. A kind gesture toward a stranger may have a ripple effect that we will never see. Can we just make kind the norm? Maybe I’m a dreamer or just a sap but I truly believe that kindness can change the world. Please be kind.
Last night, I let myself get super aggravated and frustrated about a situation. Nothing wrong with that – we all have feelings and emotions. How I attempted to handle my hurt and anger, however, is the problem. I ranted and cried and allowed my emotions to be hijacked by this one thing! And then I came down to my office and vomited it all into a blog post. To be published this morning. On Christmas Eve. Although I knew all the negativity of the post was coming from this situation, I convinced myself that I needed to post it. I justified it because I have always claimed I want my blog to be authentic and not just a highlight reel of my life. That’s how I rationalized the ugly spewing of hurt into a Christmas Eve blog post.
This morning, I woke to the kindness of a hot cup of coffee waiting for me on my nightstand! I proceeded to come down to my office and opened up my morning devotional. Yep – a devotional about kindness and how we treat others. Okay God, I’m listening. Through my study time and subsequent prayer time, God performed a serious heart check on me. The line in my devotional that I’m certain I needed to hear today was “...take those thoughts captive. You can turn down the grumbles and turn up the grace. Speak these words aloud – even a whisper will do – while you hold that person in your heart. ‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit'” Rather than moan and groan and grumble about the way in which I was hurt, I am to capture those thoughts and pray for the person who hurt me. Hold them in my heart even! And here’s the thing, there is not room in my heart for bitterness AND people for whom I am praying. Not to mention the fact that MY bitterness about the thing was not affecting this other person, it was only tainting me!
Thank you Jesus for opening my ears and my heart this morning and allowing me to hear from you. I am taking the negative thoughts captive, praying about the situation and saying a prayer of peace and grace for the other person. I am so thankful that God continues to work on me – every day. As the line from one of my favorite worship songs says…”He’s the artist and the potter, I’m the canvas and the clay.”
Lockdown. Shelter in place. Stay at home. No matter what it is called, it still means the same thing. We are ordered to stay in our homes. Together. For an undetermined amount of time. Of course we all love our families and we all want to do all that we can to keep ourselves and our communities safe. But let’s just get real for a minute…it ain’t easy. There are six of us who live in our house. Six humans and one very rambunctious, energetic dog. No matter how much we love and care about each other, we are still going to get on each other’s nerves. We are going to bicker and argue. We are going to have ups and downs.
I woke early this morning to steal the quiet moments that exist when everyone else is still sleeping. The weight of the coming day and week was bearing down on me. In my prayer I wept and cried to God “I’m not sure if I can do this…” God gently nudged me with “You can’t…but I can.”
These words: love, peace, self-control, peace, goodness, gentleness, kindness, joy. They are not going to come naturally or easily to me during these difficult times. Trying to teach from home, manage the house, help my own children do their school work, and help my whole family navigate this storm is so stressful to me! Those words do not describe my demeanor over the past few days. And its hard for me to admit that I need help…but the reality is, I need help. So my prayer for my household today and going forward is that I learn to rely on the Holy Spirit to change me. I will lean into to the power of the Spirit. “Only the Holy Spirt can produce the kinds of fruits in our lives…” (Galatians 5:22)