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Thoughts on life by Teri McCarthy

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The Ministry of Kindness

Posted by admin in November 10th, 2008
Published in Uncategorized

Please don’t think I am trying to sound like Oprah Winfrey or anything, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if we were all kinder to each other? Today I had to go to the grocery store to pick up a few things. I hate using a grocery cart so I usually lie to myself and say, Hey I don’t need one and then pile the goods in my arms until I look like a juggling act from the circus. This morning I did that very thing when a lady with a cart and I met coming around opposite corners (should they have some kind of signal lights at grocery stores?). I stopped quickly with my arms filled with stuff and she came to a halt just inches from hitting me. I looked up armed with a growl and scowl and our eyes met. She smiled. A beautiful smile. Then she said, “Oh sorry. Are you okay?” Sweet. Pleasant. Kind. And my heart just melted right there on the salty snack aisle between the Fritos and the cheesy popcorn. I smiled back and apologized for not paying attention. No problem, she said. It’s hard to see around corners. Warm fuzzies. I popped over to the Hallmark aisle and got my Dad’s birthday card and headed to the register. Things were crazy as always and people were rushing to beat each other in line. There she was my new little friend. We were heading to the same check-out line. Then something miraculous happened. She stopped and asked me to please go ahead of her. “You only have a few things…why don’t you go ahead?” Kindness. Humanity. Warmth. Right there at register #4. Amazing.

Once I was driving in morning rush hour to work. There was a lot of construction on the highway and miles ago the signs had told all of us eastbound on 435 that we needed to merge left. Orange signs. Lit signs. Flashing arrows. Every possible DMV warning was letting the morning commuter know that everyone had to merge left. As a rule keeper I snuggled close to the car’s bumper in front of me. I had already merged and for those who didn’t merge sooner, too bad. You saw all the signs with the rest of us and had the same chances as the rest of us to follow directions. You’re not cutting in front. I learned this lesson at the water fountain in first grade: NO CUTS! (And boys have cooties). So there I was at seven in the morning holding white knuckled to the steering wheel and sticking close to the car in front of me when I saw out of the corner of my eye a vehicle trying to merge left…way too late ’cause their lane was out of concrete. I looked over at the driver to let him or her know that I wasn’t budging because I had followed the rules and there was no room at the inn. I remember looking over at the driver and time stood still. She was probably 75 years old. Her hair was soft and gray. She drove a late model Buick and she was, well, beautiful. I looked over at her ready to give her the most hateful look on earth when she did something completely unexpected…she smiled. She smiled at me and it wasn’t a smirk, or a sarcastic grin. No, it was a warm, genuine, apologetic, won’t-you-please-help-me smile. And in the light of that smile I felt very ashamed. I felt ugly. Because I was acting ugly. And I slowed way down and motioned her in front of me. She had out of state tags. She looked in her rearview mirror and gave me a quick wave of thanks. She was kind. I was not.

Scripture has much to say about kindness. In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he tells us that love is patient, and love is kind.

Proverb 11:17 says that those who are kind reward themselves, but the cruel do themselves harm.

And Proverb 14:21 states that those who despise their neighbors are sinners, but happy are those who are kind…

Luke wrote the words of Jesus, “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”

The book of Ephesians tells us to be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us.

I think kindness is a sort of ministry in many ways. I have benefitted from this type of ministry in my life–in fact almost every day and yet, I am not kind. My sister is kind. She gives to people. And Lisa from work is very kind. She always has a kind word of encouragement for others. And of course Ramona from church is the kindest woman on earth. She prepares meals for the sick, visits folks in the hospital, loves on people. But I don’t have the kindness gene. It’s hardwork for me. Is that an excuse? Maybe. But I do want to work on it. I want to anonymously pay for the lunch of the stranger eating alone at the Santa Fe Cafe. I want to carry the groceries of the elderly man who is walking to his car with a cane. I want to be the type of person who waits up for the slow guy in the group or lets someone else answer the question in class even when I know what the right answer is. I want to give up my seat for the pregnant woman on the bus and I want to shovel the snow off my neighbor’s driveway. I want to be that kind of person. Maybe being kind is all about being alert and aware of each and every person around us. CS Lewis believed there was no such thing as an insignificant human being–all have value because they are made in the image of God. Maybe kindness begins with treating each person I meet as if they were truly significant. Because in reality, they are. Maybe being kind starts with letting people in front of me at the grocery check out. Maybe. Peace.

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33. Lana said,
November 11th, 2008 at 8:37 pm

What a refreshing evening read. Why is it so easy to get caught up on rules or being in a hurry or feeling scared to talk to the homeless man on the corner or…I really feel convicted and hope that my life will start reflecting God’s idea of what kindness looks like. The world really would be a better place for all of us. Thanks for the reminder.
L

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158. deb said,
July 11th, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Good message…

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