The Golden Rule

The Golden Rule. Do you remember the first time you heard it? Maybe it was spoken by a parent as you were picking at a sibling. Maybe a teacher as they were listing the classroom rules. Maybe somewhere along the way you just heard it. Believed it to be a long-standing societal rule: “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.”

The Golden Rule. You know it now, right? But where did it come from? Your parents? That teacher? The government?

Luke 6:31. It was spoken by Jesus to his disciples along with some other commands.

Jesus’ call to “do unto others as you would like them to do you,” was a call to treat each other with the same kind of love and respect we would in fact treat ourselves, but also spoke to the way we treat those who may not treat us with kindness.

“If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” Luke 6:32-35,NLT

I encourage you to go back and read these verses replacing “sinner” with the words “the world,” since we are encouraged to be different from “the world.”

Not expecting we are to be treated as the elite, but we treat others as if they are, expecting nothing in return. Putting out the kindness, compassion, and love we want to see in the world, because we have a duty as believers in Christ to be His reflection of those things in it. And showing it not just to those who love Him, or who we love; but who don’t know Him and who could not care less about us. So that they know His love, and see it reflected in us in a world that shows anything but.

That is the Golden Rule. Lived out. In us. Through us. To others. Daily.

How can you be a reflection of it today?

Promises of God: A New Heart

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations. Ezekiel 36:26-27

The heart. One tiny organ with a very large job-to pump blood and provide oxygen to the other major organs of the body. It’s one of the smallest organs that carries the toughest load. Any problem with it can cause a number of physical problems.

I’ve learned lessons about the heart in the last several years that I didn’t think I would have to learn. Like-did you know the heart has an electrical system? This system controls how the heart beats, and any malfunction in this system can cause a number of issues. Too many beats can even lead to death.

When our heart is not functioning physically, we do what we can to fix it. To repair it. We change our lifestyles. We change our routine. We listen to the experts who are equipped to take care of and maintain the healthy function of our hearts.

That small organ with such a large job, also houses more than blood pumping chambers and electrically timed beats.

It is also the holding center for the effects of our emotions. When we feel joy, happiness, and connection our heart is also happy. But when we feel sad, lonely, angry, or anxious the heart rate quickens, it works harder, and its health begins to deteriorate.

It’s the same with the spiritual health of our hearts. If we hold onto anger and bitterness, unforgiveness, and unhealthy lifestyles-our heart is not open to the amazing experiences God has for us.

He knows how important the heart is, and He wants to give us a new one.

God wants to clean up that system in our body, heart, and mind that is pumping in evil thoughts and behaviors. Spewing out harsh words. Filling us up with bitterness.

When we seek God to remove the hurt and pain that lives there. When we seek God to help us forgive others. When we seek God to change our lifestyles just as we do with our physical health, He delivers. He cleans up all the malfunctions of our hurting, cold, and bitter heart; and He begins to pump love, compassion, tenderness, and mercy through it.

Is it time to take your spiritual heart health as serious as you take your physical heart health? If so, God has the answer to your heart troubles, and He is ready to give you a new one that beats like His.

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Just buy the coffee

There are days I wonder if anyone cares to notice. Cares to notice that there is a world past the one they live in. Cares that the person in front of them with the plastered on smile. With that “fake face” on, as I call it, is really just dying to go home and pretend the outside world and all it’s demands don’t exist.

I care. Because I am that person on too many days to count.

I wonder if I’m seen. Or if anyone will care to see past the small scowl I may have while walking into the church parking lot…because “fake face” isn’t working this morning. Because I am coming in this morning after yelling at my kids.

Because that heated discussion now continues in the church cafe with no one caring to notice. Or so it seems.

Because after months of caring for the least of these, I was now sitting across from someone who was telling me I still wasn’t trusted. Why? I couldn’t deliver promises I knew I just couldn’t keep.

Because I now sat, knowing I had to “fake face” my way through something I had to hide for over a year. Not say anything. Sit back and stay silent. Again.

There have been a number of days with small instances like this, but on this day I went home a ball of bitterness, anger, and loads of regrets. I exploded on anyone and everyone in sight.

The next day. I couldn’t get out of bed. My body had just given up. I was tired of fighting Satan. I was sick from fighting him, and all his adversaries. Would anyone have known this? No. More than likely, no.

Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others. 1 Corinthian 10:24, NLT

Really, we all look past the hurting. The down-trodden. The sullen. The heartbroken. Because we are focused on our own good. We all do it.

But what if we just bought someone a coffee? What exactly do I mean?

Well, after that battle with my anger. Satan. And my self-professed sabbath, I was determined to have a good day after.

But then the dog wet on the carpet. I couldn’t do anything with my hair. I got stuck in traffic. And I was late for work…again. Small things, but all things to keep from me focusing on the good.

But then someone bought my coffee.

It seemed so simple.

A stranger. In front of me in Starbucks (because I’m never too late for Starbucks), and the sweet sound of- “The person in front of you paid for your drink.”

The person in front of me.

I’m just a random stranger in a coffee drive-through.

Or was I?

No. I was an opportunity to be seen. For someone to look outside themselves, and be kind. Do good.

It doesn’t happen often. This looking outside ourselves. This seeing. The going outside of one’s own world to brighten someone else’s.

With a coffee.

Case in point…

Later, the devil must have decided he wasn’t going to take defeat lightly. He got at my head again. Started nagging me. In the mirror. Because that’s where he tries to get at many of us. I looked down and noticed you could see through my dress. Though no one had bothered to tell me. They commented on said dress, but never helped a girl out.

But I remembered this. Though right now…I could only see my underpants, and thought all kinds of things. And wondered what others thought, you know-cuz Satan; I remembered this: someone was kind enough to buy my coffee.

So, moral of this story:

Never, EVER let a fellow woman walk around with her unmentionables showing. It’s ok to pull her to the side and whisper it in her ear. Please! Help a girl out!

Do some good, and just buy someone a coffee. It may just make someone feel a little bit more seen.

And you’ll be looking past yourself to do someone else some good.

Dandelions and Jesus

My 7th year. I am coming to the end of my 7th year of this counseling youth gig. Of stepping inside schools to hopefully provide safe space for those that just need a breath of fresh air. A minute away from pressure. Someone to guide and direct them to share and express their feelings in a way that is healthy.

For the first couple years, I hid God while in those schools. Hid my Bible verse tattoos. Hid my Bible. I was scared to mention His name. Mention anything related to Him because well, I walk the halls of public schools. That is a “no-no” in these halls. The one year I did shed the long-sleeve shirts, and left my Bible in plain view? Well, that was a year filled with strife and battles. Pain. Heartache. Opposition. One I will never forget.

But…I don’t hide Him anymore.

While I don’t walk the halls thumping people over the head with a Bible, when I have an office, I still keep a Bible in it. I still pray daily before each session with each client. I still wear my cross and my Bible verse tattoo out in the open. I don’t hide, but I don’t shout it from the rooftops. Public school, remember?

So, I have found it interesting that even though I never say His name, these are the conversations I seem to be having week in and week out?

“If I wish on this dandelion do you think God will hear me?” This is the question I was asked as we went on our weekly “walk and talk.” Originally, I was surprised by the question. He had never mentioned God in our conversations before, and neither had I; so why now? And how did he know I was safe?

And I realized, I never had to mention Him by name.

Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. 1 John 2:6

He knew to mention God because I had shown God to him. Through my actions. I never had to say a single word about Him, I simply had to show up and be like Jesus in each and every encounter on those walks.

How? Quite simple, really. I was known by my fruit (Matthew 7:16). The ones mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. Those of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I never had to say one word about the Bible. Never had to mention Jesus by name. I just had to be like Him, and people saw Him in me.

This teen, though too cool for school most days. Angry, yelling and ready to yell back at any adult most days. Taller and much better at basketball than me, wasn’t too cool that day to stop and make wishes on dandelions. He also wasn’t too cool to ask tough questions about God, or even talk about him at school.

Why? Because someone had been patient. Someone had been kind. Someone had been gentle with their words. Shown self-control in their responses when he was upset.

Someone was Jesus.

I have had many conversations about Jesus prior to this day. I don’t tell people in my secular role that I am a pastor. Once they find out they often treat me differently, or are more guarded. I simply try each day to be Jesus with skin on as I walk into a session with each person who is sitting with me. Whether wishing on dandelions, shooting baskets, or playing a game. I try to be an example of Him everywhere I go.

Some may have tried to diminish that light before, but like dandelions-the hard to kill weed-the light can survive and thrive in the most hard to reach places. It grows in conditions that seem unfathomable (even out of concrete sidewalks), and it’s hard to miss their bright yellow blooms, or their dry seed heads in an open field. It’s hard not to want to pick one up and make a dandelion wish.

It’s hard not to notice the light of Jesus, when you are displaying His fruit.

WWJD: Be a joy, not a jerk

Love is not rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable. 1 Corinthians 13:5, NLT

This post is a two-fer because these two principles work hand in hand. Words and the actions that come with them have power. In fact, Scripture discusses the power of words in many places. One such place is in James 3:8, when the tongue is described as “restless, evil and full of deadly poison” (NLT).

The tongue is deadly when words that are rude, mean, and filled with irritation shoot off of it like nothing. Using intentional hurtful actions driven by anger or hurt to make a point, won’t ensure a relationship will grow and flourish.

These kinds of words and actions can be hurtful. These kinds of words and actions are damaging. These words leave scars. These words and actions are deadly to relationships.

We have all been rude. Displayed bad manners, forgotten to speak to someone, cut someone off in traffic, interrupted someone, or said something hurtful unintentionally. I am not talking about bad manners.

I am talking about intentional hurt because we are irritated, or hurt ourselves. Provoking anger because we are angry. Retaliating because we are in our feelings, so we do something that will trigger a deep wound in another person. Ouch, you got me. Well, ha! I got you. now. Take that! A rude remark here. A silly response there. You lose your cool. You lack total self-control, come up out of your holy character, and before you know it, you have done things, and said things that have cut too deep to ever take back.

This is not an expression of love. Not at all.

According to the Kendrick brothers in The Love Dare, “When under pressure, love doesn’t turn sour. If you are walking under the influence of love, you will be a joy, not a jerk.”

Even when you are hurting, you can still be a joy to the person you love, and the ole brothers give three ways to honor our loved ones without being rude and irritable.

The first of these is putting into practice the Golden Rule. You know the one: “Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” (Luke 6:31, NLT). Would you want to be called crazy? Would you want to be dismissed when you had a concern? Ignored? Yelled at? Treated like a nuisance? Ridiculed? Criticized? Would you want someone to rage at you when you made a mistake, or use your weaknesses against you? Or would you want someone to treat you with compassion, listen when you had a concern with reassurance and patience, and accept your faults with grace?

The second, is thinking of how we treat others-like strangers. Think about it. Do we treat the UPS man, the grocer, the person we pass on the street, or our co-worker better than the people in our home? Or the person we profess to love? Do we offer them smiles, and the best of us, and then give those we cherish our leftovers, grunts, moans, or nothing at all? Let’s ensure we treat the people that mean the most to us with the utmost respect and honor.

Last, are you doing something you were asked not to do? Are you responding in a way you were previously asked not to, or doing something you know will trigger a negative response because you are upset? If a request has been made of you, or you know something bothers someone, just don’t do it. Doing otherwise is the opposite of a loving response. It’s actually pretty rude and nasty.

Want to be a joy, and not a jerk?

I think this pretty much sums it up. It is one of the greatest commandments provided by Jesus: “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39, NLT

So, if you are waving “hello” to your neighbor, all smiles and joy…well, save a little for the ones closest to you as well. To the “neighbors” you spend time with behind closed doors. Those you interact with when you think no one else may be watching. Or listening. Give them all your joy, happiness, kind words, and loving responses, and a little less of your sarcastic quips, hurtful words, dismissive tones, and critical remarks.

Love is not rude. Love is not irritable. Love simply has no room to be a jerk.

Love is a joy.

WWJD: Kindness

Never let loyalty and kindness leave you!
    Tie them around your neck as a reminder.
    Write them deep within your heart. Proverbs 3:3, NLT

Kindness. What do we often think of when we think of random acts of kindness? Pretty words? Random gifts?

The second portion of 1 Corinthians 13:4 states that LOVE is kind. But think about it…can someone give really good gifts, and speak charming and prettied up words, and not have any loving motive behind them? Of course they can. Paul addresses this in the first three verses of that famous chapter, when he says: If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. 1 Corinthians 13:1,3, MSG

Yes. We can speak beautifully. We can give great gifts. And not be loving, or even very kind.

So then…what is kindness? What does it mean to express kindness in ways that show love to others?

According to Stephen and Alex Kendrick, authors of the book The Love Dare, “Kindness is love in action.” Action. How we SHOW kindness. Yes, it is how we speak, and what we give, but it is more than those things. It is how we make others feel. How we express love to others in what we DO. And it encompasses a number of things that sometimes have nothing to do with the words we say, or the things we can give with our money.

Kindness is also tenderness, which in other words is the care and concern for the welfare of another person. It is sensitivity to their needs. Compassion and warmth. We are not harsh when we speak, even if we have to correct. And let’s be real-kind people do have to correct, but they do so with a soft tone of voice; while speaking the truth.

Kindness is willingness, or goodwill and a desire to serve another to meet their needs, the ones we are sensitive to. It is going out of ones way to provide assistance, even if it may mean we have to put our desires to the side. It is not just giving money or material things, but giving of one’s time and attention.

Kindness moves. It doesn’t sit around and wait for someone to act first. To make the first move. “Well, I will show compassion and take care of his/her needs, when mine are taken care of.” It sees a need, and takes the initiative to meet it, whether that person asks or not. It hears of someone’s strife or heartache, and lends an ear whether that person seeks you out first or not. It gets off the couch and moves towards the hurting. Towards the broken. Towards the suffering. Towards the object of one’s concern and love-not away.

It’s like this story we have probably heard many times, one found in Luke 10:25-27. It’s the story of the Good Samaritan. We know the gist of the story. The headline today would read: “Jewish man harmed in vicious attack, and left for dead.” Two men walked by him. Upstanding men. One a priest, the other an assistant in the temple. Neither stopped to take care of him because it would inconvenience them. Surely thinking, “Oh, poor thing. He’s hurt. Sorry about that. But…it’s really not my concern. Nothing I can really do about it. Moving on with what I got to do today. Don’t really have time for this.”

“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.” Luke 10: 34-35, NLT

A despised man. Who wasn’t even supposed to talk to a Jew. He was the example of kindness. Tenderness. Willingness. Initiative. Action.

Love.

So now the question is-which one are we? The one not willing to be inconvenienced or bothered with someone else’s trouble; or the one moving to act? To show kindness? To show love?

“Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” 1 John 3:18

Let’s not be rusty gates with what we believe are the words people want to hear, then doing the opposite. Lets move in love. Act in love. Show our love.

Remember-“Kindness is love in action,” so as that song mentioned long ago…perhaps it’s time for a little less talk and a lot more action. A lot more love. A lot more kindness.

The blessing is the payback

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 1 Peter 3:9, NLT

Hurt.

We have all experienced it. We have all had people hurt us-whether intentionally or not so. Whether due to circumstances outside of anyone’s control; or actions, words, or deeds that were chosen, and maybe a little “out” of control.

We have all experienced hurt. We have even all been the one at some point in time inflicting the hurt.

Today’s post isn’t about deep hurts-that is a path to healing and forgiveness that takes a little more time. One that can’t be wrapped up neatly in one post, because it is just that hard. I know because I am walking it. Walking it over again for some things through which I thought I had already taken that path many years ago.

However, we can still approach people who have hurt us with the following as Peter instructs in 1 Peter 3:8, being “agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble, without sharp-tongued sarcasm” (The Message).

But how???

One of the easiest places to get tripped up, and caught up in this need to retaliate with the same hurt is through our daily interactions. Our relationships with those around us, and with those with whom we will come into contact, or with whom we will speak. Electronic devices and the use of social media, messaging and texting make it so easy to do. Hurt comes in the form of words or general complacency. Or let’s just be real…we get this “I’ve got a second, let me respond and just get this over with. Give this as little emotion and attention as possible as I can right now to say I did” attitude about our relationships and connections.

Our words become impulsive with the tap of our thumbs. Behind screens we become invincible. And we say and do things we would not do in person. Things that damage and impair meaningful connections-simply because we never took the time to stop, think, and be agreeable, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, or humble.

When we are on the receiving end, oh…we want to pull out our “fire” thumbs. Tap back a response. One that demands an apology, puts people in their place. And then back and forth. Round and round we go. Retaliating.

I wish we could be as bold in our face to face interactions as we are in the ones we have with our thumbs. Behind keyboards and screens. Then maybe we would not be walking around with so many unresolved, hurt feelings because of perceived words or actions.

Or maybe we can simply be the one who stops the trail of hurt in the beginning. “Do not repay evil for evil.” The call from Peter implies a choice. Which means in this case we have a choice whether we will hurt someone, or as he also instructs, “pay them back with a blessing.”

And blessings can be firm boundaries that tell where lines have been crossed, without the use of hurtful words or actions. We can speak the truth using loving, compassionate language, and still let others know we will not tolerate being harmed or dishonored. We can call out disrespect without being nasty and unkind.

Or…we can choose surrender. Give the situation to God. Ask God to bless them. Ask God to rid their hearts of hurt and bitterness…(oh, and ours, too). Ask God to show them the path to righteousness, and to give them a life that is prosperous; if they so choose to take that one.

We can give it to God, and move on.

Sometimes it’s the best payback. It’s the one that’s unexpected.

Because here’s the straight up truth. We cannot control how someone speaks. We cannot control the actions of others, or their character when they are hurting.

We choose on this day whom we will serve, and if we are serving Him, we serve others with kindness, sympathy, love, compassion, and humility.

Because we may never get an apology. That person may never see the errors in the way a situation was handled. May never change at all. May change, and we may never see it. And we can’t go back and fix anything.

But we can be a blessing, and in doing so He will bless us.

When we bless this way, let go and move on; He will pay us back what we are owed-Our peace. Our dignity. Our courage. The true payback.

To be known

I walked in the room, knowing I needed to apologize. Dinner in our home is definitely a time of interesting, and fiery conversation. The fiery ones center mostly on the state of virtual school. On any given night, one parent ends up being the bad cop, the good cop, or we both end up just being lame. Tonight, it was me.

I wasn’t “bad.” I hadn’t yelled. We hadn’t had the dreaded school discussion that ends in stomping to rooms, but I hadn’t set a “good” example. Not one sprinkled with grace and acceptance.

I had mocked someone we knew at the dinner table. Judged a situation, and judged the person in the situation.

And any of you who haven’t committed this sin, be the first to cast a stone. I’ll wait.

While I wait…and wait, I’ll explain my apology. If I feel my example has not been one of Christlike-ness; or let’s just say, if I KNOW, because the Spirit tells me it hasn’t, I will apologize. This means I will also apologize to my kids.

Now, I know some don’t believe in this. But, the Bible is clear about how humble we must become to enter His kingdom:

Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven.” Matthew 18:3, NLT

Like children. So I’m not above apologizing to a child. Especially if I know that one is watching and learning from me.

“I shouldn’t have said what I did tonight. Made fun of what happened. It was wrong. I am not going to justify my behavior. I should have explained my thoughts differently. It was wrong. I didn’t set an example, and it wasn’t kind.”

The apology opened up a conversation about authenticity and belonging.

See…I had left a space earlier that day feeling shunned and unwelcome. Like I was an intrusion. And I let it fester all day. To the point that I let the inauthentic response of another trigger me into anger, and a mean-spirited response.

When I should have explained at dinner the importance of making others feel comfortable in all spaces. Allow others to be free to be themselves, so they don’t have to constantly “shape-shift,” and be less than themselves. To be inclusive to all. To make others feel a little less self-conscious, but rather accepted, seen, loved, and known.

“I don’t want you to be 42 years old, and just figuring this out like I am.”

As I sat typing out the words to this post, I reached for my phone to locate a verse I needed and found this…a note I had typed out in my phone over a year ago. A short “letter” I had written to the younger me.

Dear Younger me,

Choose your circle wisely. You should be loved by your peeps for who you are, not for who you pretend to be. If you have to change who you were made to be to fit into a space, that isn’t your space.

And as I read it, I realized…though she thought it “cringy…” I had just said these exact same words, without my even knowing to a pretty spot-on, younger version of 13 year-old me.

And no…I didn’t want her to have to figure all this out in another 30 years.

And goodness, I am still trying to figure out many days who it is that God sees in me.

Because that is what I want her to see: who God sees. Not what anyone in any room she may walk into may see. Because more often than not…they may not see ALL that God has given her. ALL her talent. ALL her gifts. ALL that makes her so uniquely special, and set apart.

And it’s the same for you. There will be rooms you walk into where you may be known by name, but in which people still just don’t see you. You still don’t feel known. You will move in circles with people who don’t know who you really are, because you feel as if you have to cover up the real you. Play pretend. You may waste years and years trying to fit into spaces that will just never “fit” you, and who you are.

Know this. Embrace it today.

You are always seen and intimately known by God. He knows everything about you, and He still loves you. He has a place for you, and you never have to pretend, cover up; nor will you feel all alone.

He sees the real you. The broken you. The insecure you. The too loud you. The shy you. The you trying to fit into spaces that make you cringe.

He knows your name. He sees you. He loves you. He accepts you. You are known. You belong.

A friend to the lonely

“I don’t want to go to school! I.Dont.Want.To!”

This wasn’t a cry I hadn’t heard before from this child. In fact, it’s often uttered daily. He doesn’t want to get dressed. He mumbles and grumbles many days all the way through the morning routine.

But this cry was different.

It was a gut-wrenching cry that woke this little one from sleep.

“I can’t make it! I can’t do it all day. I can’t!”

And why couldn’t he? Because his friend on the bus was mean; and Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s were the only days he didn’t play alone at recess.

Daily I am the one folks come to for answers to these type of school woes. But today? I had nothing.

Nothing to calm his anxious spirit. Nothing to convince him to go to school. No solution for the loneliness he felt on that playground.

Sure. I could provide the reassurance that God was most certainly with him at recess, but he knew this already. And while it is nice to know that God sits with us, it is also no secret that a 10 year old, 5th grade boy also desires that someone else will sit with him in his lonely places. To invite him to play. To help him not feel left out or different. Especially when he can’t play basketball or football.

All my little guy wanted was someone to play tag with him. To understand that his clumsy, little legs…they just couldn’t do sports.

And it’s what I wanted for him, too.

Today? If your heart is breaking for your lonely child? It’s what I want for you and yours, also.

Today, I pray that God is not only with your lonely and hurting child, but that He sends someone.

He sends someone who sees their own brother or sister sitting alone, and invites them to be their “friend” for the day (Proverbs 18:24). That someone will go outside their circle, show hospitality, and make yours feel like an “insider” (Hebrews 13).

Ask a lonely soul to play.

Tell them, “It’s ok. I’ll teach you.”

Or drop the football, and simply stop to play tag.

I pray your little one is sent a friend to the lonely.

A little love up in here

Surely, Lord, You are in this place. Surely, Lord, You are in this place.

These were the words written in my daily devotional this morning. These were the words I had to repeatedly say to myself over and over just to get through my day today. To get through some spaces today.

Surely, Lord, you are up in here!

Because, I didn’t really believe it. Because all I had seen, heard, witnessed, even had spewed at me was cruelty. Hate. I had been hurt. Heartbroken. And I was having a hard time seeing anything redeeming in some of those faces.

I was also wearing it. Which means that my facial muscles just don’t do “fake face.” If I am mad, sad, happy. My face let’s you know. And, I had been walking around in a funk for a number of days.

It’s why I could instantly recognize it in the kid in a sea of kids during the transition between recess and last period. That “Please don’t look at me, or I’ll just cry” look.

It may have also been his black plastic rimmed glasses, and unruly curly hair; much like my own kid’s that made him stand out to me in that moment. The fact that earlier that day, I had been wondering if these same group of kids would be so unkind to my wee, little quirky boy?

Then I saw one…similar…standing in front of me. Trying not to cry.

While everyone else just walked right by him. While everyone else just blew him off. While no one else noticed his sadness. Or saw it. And failed to stop and say anything kind.

Hurt people hurt people. Yeh, yeh. I get it. Read the book. Check. Do the job to stop that cycle.

Hate that is given, that is often returned to others is just that-hateful.

Thing is, we don’t have to be hateful. I didn’t walk a life paved with roses. It has been rough. Pieces of my childhood were painful. Filled with grief and loss. But, I didn’t use it as an excuse to hurt others. I was a tough cookie at times, sure…however, I never spread hate. I was never unkind because cruelty was handed to me. No, I took my pain and used it as a tool to undo harm, by showing love to others.

This is how you break the cycle. Refusing to spread hate with hate. You battle the hate you feel you have been given. The crappy hand you feel you have been dealt, not by hurting others, but with love. You become a warrior. Of love. Of peace. Of kindness.

Surely, Lord, You are in this place. Genesis 28:16

He was. In me. I was called to show someone the Lord today.

Today. I could be that warrior of kindness.

Be, here. In this place. That had been a source of hurt to this woman, what I would want for my child. The one who came to mind as I watched this one cry in front of me. The words I would want my own sweet, quirky, funny, but tiny and unruly headed little boy to hear.

“I am sorry they hurt you. No one should get away with saying hurtful things. It’s not OK. You are smart. You are worthy. You are wonderful. You are awesome.”

It’s never cool to hurt. It’s never cool to take your pain and use it as an excuse to inflict it on others. I could have easily walked by, mumbled an “I feel ya,” and kept going, but even in my pain I chose to stop and show that kindness, love and peace does live up in here. It’s the only thing that drowns out the hateful noise. And you have the choice whether you receive it, and then in turn give it.

My prayer is this: Stop when someone is crying. Those tears are tears of pain from a heart that is full of love and kindness, and so desires to hear how valued they are.

Show them that love, goodness, and kindness lives here. It could truly save a hurting soul. And, it only takes a hot minute.

The same hot minute it took to read a devotional dated December 5th.

On December 6th.

Surely, Lord, You are in this place!