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What do you see that needs to change?

Kindness isn’t always big.  It can be as small as a smile to a harried mother or cashier.  A thank you to the teen who lets you step first through the doorway. Take some time today to see those around you.  See them and acknowledge them.  Be kind.  It is such a simple way to share God’s Love with a world that badly needs it.

–SueBE

You have a choice.  You really do.

Choose to be kind.  Choose to give people the benefit of the doubt.  Choose to be polite.

It’s a great way to show the world the Light of Christ.

–SueBE

 

Yesterday we had a guest preacher who discussed the feeding of the 5000.  The interesting thing was that he discussed it without ever discussing the actual meal.  Instead he talked about what was going on in Christ’s life at the time.

John the Baptist had just been beheaded.  John was Christ’s cousin and fellow minister.  He was a friend and someone who truly understood who Christ was.  His death had to be the kind of blow that Jesus felt in his chest.  Christ tried to take off and regroup.  He needed some time to get his head back together.

But the people needed him just as badly.  Everywhere he went, there they were.  Asking for help.  Calling for his blessing.  Reaching, demanding, draining.

It would have been so easy for Christ to turn his back.  It would have been so simple to refuse to see what he could do.  Instead, he saw them.  He reacted to them.  He interacted with them and he cared.

Seeing people and caring.  Are these not the greatest acts of kindness?

The next time you check out at a store, look the clerk in the eye.  Speak to her.  Listen to her response.  You’ll still have plenty of time to go about your day.

We encounter so many people everyday who just need a little kindness.  Sure there will still be things that require a lot of hard work.  But pair this with kindness and see what happens.

I dare you.

–SueBE

Maybe make a decision to be kind more often than right?

Recently, our church book club read The Lemon Tree.  I can’t say that it is one of my favorite books, but it is an important book.  Why?  Because it tells a story all too few of us know.  It tells about the creation of Israel from the point of view of the Palestinians.  Unlike the narratives we hear so often, Israel is not the hero.  Not that the nation is demonized but this is a much more complete picture.

The book tells about driving Palestinian families from their homes.  It tells about explosives made to tempt children to pick them up.  Think about that one for a minute.  It tells about the demonization of a people, the Palestinians.

Now, don’t start.  I know my history.  I know about PLO atrocities.  But I also know both sides of the story.  I don’t look at just the parts that make this group of people easy to hate.

The eerie part of all of this was that the vast majority of people who read the book thought it was biased.  “It’s anti-Israeli!  It doesn’t tell about the things those Muslims did!”

Yes, yes, it did.  But it is so much easier to hold on to the misconceptions and narrow perspectives that allow us to hate.

This sort of reaction?  This is why I write about race.  It is why I write about diversity in religion.  It is why I write about tolerance as well as ethnocentrism.

This may not be a story that is comfortable for many of us.  But until we can see the whole reality without making excuses for it, we cannot truly be peacemakers.  And isn’t that the blessing we’d all love to rain down on this Earth?

–SueBE

 

I know a woman named Holly Champagne. It would be hard not to be ebullient with a name like that. Of course, my mother thought “Lori” was an ebullient name, and I am anything but. On the other hand, I once watched one of those “true-life” court shows that featured a boy named Nefarious — nefarious! — who was doing his level best to live up — or is that down? — to his name. Maybe labels are slipperier than we think.

Back in high school, one of my classmates gave quick, one-word descriptors of a group of us girls to a group of boys. My descriptor was “smart,” and even in that moment, I saw my chances with any of those boys fade into nothingness. Words do hurt, do bind and do restrain. But no word can possibly encapsulate the totality of who we are.

Labeling yourself, whether in a positive, negative or even neutral way, sets up certain expectations, certain limits. I am not just a woman, a Catholic, a brunette (a fact that grows more apparent even as my hair grows), a feminist, a liberal. Because what you expect and conjure up on the basis of those words may be as far from true as slapping the word “petite” on me. (Or, as I said to my husband after a recent outing to the movies, “I’m six feet tall and I just saw ‘Wonder Woman.’ I’d get out of my way.”)

God, the author of words (for which I am eternally grateful) does not care much for labels, I think. Labels can be traps. But we humans sure seem to love them, if only for quickly and summarily lumping together and dismissing others as unlike ourselves. We have a deep need to belong to a tribe. And part of finding your tribe seems to include excluding those who do not fit the parameters.

You see a lot of this is the comments section of any social media posting. “Those people” are idiots, losers, corrupt or foolish. “My people” are not. What if, for just one day, we stopped believing in “mine” and “yours,” “them” and “us”? What if we ignored all the labels — rich, poor, dumb, smart, fat, thin — and just got to know one another without expectation or judgment, without filing each person we meet into neat little folders — “like me” or “not like me”?

I suspect something radical would happen. I also suspect that it cannot be done. We like our labels too much. So, instead, let me suggest a new label — “human.” Think about that word. Let the connotations that swirl around it emerge. Hopefully, these thoughts contain such sentiments as “fragile,” “prone to error” and even “lovable.”

Now try applying that label to everyone you meet. It is, after all, how God sees us.

So often we seem to believe that if we can’t do something big, we just won’t do anything at all. But small actions add up.  I’ve discovered this with one of my son’s friends.  Originally he was ” the tag along little brother” but at this point he and Jared are friends.

His brother is super outgoing and way charismatic.  He has a great sense of humor and is always willing to lend someone a hand.

The younger brother is much less outgoing.  He too has a great sense of humor although, as my grandmother would say, it isn’t always a great fit for polite society.  But he’s quiet.  For two years he’s been coming to my house and I don’t think he’d spoken to me 10 times.

The past year has been tough. Some of the changes have been good (a move), some have been bad (a divorce) but change is stressful. It can make you feel overwhelmed and overlooked.

And it isn’t like they live here.  But I’ve picked the younger brother up when the older brother, and the rest of their carpool, had a sporting event.  My husband and I have been their adult chaperones when they have to deal with a curfew.  And we’ve fed them dinner, grilling burgers, ladling stew into bowls, and making pan after pan of mac-n-cheese.

I recently got the shock of a lifetime.  I had made yet more mac-n-cheese, aren’t they sick of it yet, and someone picked me up off the floor.  “I love mac-n-cheese so much.”  When did he get so much taller than me?  A few days later, I was sitting on the sofa crocheting.  The younger brother plopped down beside and proceeded to chat me up about their new cat.

I hadn’t done anything huge but I’ve made a connection, one box of pasta at a time.

Small things are a great way to share God’s love in a world that really needs it.

–SueBE

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