Tuesday, October 18, 2011

18 | The Gift of Kindness

I just spent the day subbing in the middle school I attended a long, long time ago.  I rounded a corner into the un-updated portion of the building, and 8th grade was staring me in the face.  Remember the awkwardness?  The social distress?  The nearly constant fluttering of nerves and insecurity?  I nearly had to check to see if I was wearing the "right" brand of jeans.  (Hmmmm.  I don't think I'd cut it in any clique wearing my "Tarjay Boutique" trousers.)

I can think of all kinds of spaces and places where we need to slather kindness.  Middle school is at the top of the list.  Which got me praying about this...  (Won't you join me?)

Let love of the brethren continue.  Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:1-2

Dear Lord,

I'm dreaming of a world where there's a lot more kindness.  (I'm guessing you've got a dream like this, too.)  It's a world where kids don't bully to compensate for their own insecurities.  Where the label "stupid" doesn't exist.  Where drivers don't rage against the machinery of traffic.  Where colleagues don't undermine each other in the name of professional advancement.  Where siblings don't squabble incessantly.  (Can we start with my kids, please?).  Where selfishness doesn't suck the nice out of us.  (Ooops.  Scratch that request about my kids not squabbling, God.)  

It's a world where honor abounds.  Thoughtfulness thrives.  Blessings blossom.  Where we see the angel in everyone, and act accordingly.

This is the world I want my kids — all kids — to grow up in.  But am I always kind?  Hardly!  Am I succeeding in coaching my kids to constant kindness?  Not likely!  Am I equipping them to respond to meanness with resiliency and forgiveness?  Hopefully...

Lord, it's hard work, this kindness coaching.  Can you forgive may many unkind sins?  Can you give me a good example, so I can model myself on someone who has done a better job?  What'd you say?  Been there, done that?  Oh, yeah...


Look at all he did in three years of ministry.   Healed hundreds.  Fed thousands.  Taught slow-to-understand knuckleheads (Sorry.  Name calling.  I meant to say "disciples.")  Listened.  Forgave.  Touched.  Practiced patience.  Saved wedding parties when the wine ran dry.  Hung out with anyone and everyone, whether they were in his clique or not.  Forgave some more.  Patiently taught again... and again.  Took on all our sins.  Suffered graciously.  Conquered death.  Rose victoriously — for each and every one of our undeserving souls.  

God, you are really good at this providing examples thing. 

Is that a fair example, though?  I mean, Jesus is Jesus, and I am so, SO human.  Flawed, with a big fat "F."  I think it helped Jesus to be your kid when he was doing all that nice stuff.  The gene pool must have given him a big boost.  Guess I should just throw in the towel now.  Wait...  What's that you say?

I am a child of God, too.  Huh.  Named and claimed as one of yours in baptism.  Poured full of the Holy Spirit, if I'd just tap into that Godly grace.  

Can it really be that simple?  Well... NO.  God, I'm bound to get it wrong as much as I get it right.  But I know you have promised to be by my side as I try to walk your chosen way.  Thank you for being my Heavenly Father, for nurturing me, loving me, and forgiving me.  Thank you for showing me your kindness, even when I least deserve it.  I know in my heart you will refresh and restore me when I feel too weary to be kind to others.  You will point out the weary who need kindness when my cup is full.  Let your kindness gene be strong in me, so others see how nice it is to abide in you.


May God's kindness brighten your corner of the world today, and may you radiate his kind light to others.

P.S.  Even though October is more than half over (how'd that happen?), you can still jump in on 1000 Acts of Kindness.  Check it out...

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