PUT ON YOUR KINDNESS NECKLACE (BY GUEST DEBORA COTY)
I could not believe my eyes. My friend Glenna had posted a simple statement on her own Facebook wall about how sad her heart was due to the current civil unrest ripping our country apart. That was all â€“ a brief, sincere, melancholy lament of the growing division among Americans.
One of her FB â€œfriendsâ€ immediately responded that Glenna should be sad, for it was her ignorant support of stupid political candidates that was keeping our country stuck in the past, mired in antiquated bigotry and hatred. And if Glenna would only take off her blinders and instead support the progressive left, she could actually DO something about Americaâ€™s problems instead of shamefully wallowing in them.
I quickly called Glenna and learned that this â€œfriendâ€ was really only an acquaintance, a neighbor who had taken issue with a small sign by Glennaâ€™s front door supporting a specific political candidate. She had already confronted Glenna (loudly) in her front yard about their differing opinions but apparently couldnâ€™t resist berating her in public as well, resorting to attack tactics like name-calling and rude accusations.
My initial reaction? Un-friend that nasty nuisance! Block her out of your life. You donâ€™t need the aggravation. But thatâ€™s not what Glenna did. Nope. She took the woman freshly baked brownies! She decided to respond â€“ not react (thereâ€™s a difference, you know) â€“ with kindness. Because thatâ€™s what would glorify God the most.
Kindness. Not angry retorts. Not revengeful sabotage. Not taking irreversible offense and cutting off all communication.
Kindness. Because Glenna wanted to be a blessing to this bitter, hurting woman. She wanted to don her kindness necklace and keep wearing it, whatever the cost (reread the scripture at the top of this page).
In todayâ€™s fight-to-the-death-for-my-rights driven world, this kind of illogical and impractical kindness seems pure folly. Yet itâ€™s found in Galatians 5:22-23 (NLT): â€œThe Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.â€
In the fruit basket of the Spirit, kindness is the kiwi; the green smiley face in your compote. The wonderful virtue that compelled Jesus to heal the lame, return sight to the blind, feed the hungry, and give lepers their lives back. And He wants us as Christ-followers to treat others with the same kindness: â€œAll of you [believers], be likeminded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humbleâ€ (1 Peter 3:8 NIV).
Easier said than done, isnâ€™t it? Especially in a modern world where kindness is often eyed with suspicion, tender touch is avoided, and compassion is punished. Lawsuits against Good Samaritans make people think twice before offering a helping hand. But kindness can be as simple as, well, loving your neighbor. Like Glennaâ€™s unlovable â€œfriend.â€ And like my neighbor, Lynn.
Our weekly neighborhood ladiesâ€™ Bible study had just gotten underway one Friday morning when Lynn from five houses down appeared at my front door, visibly shaken and puffy-eyed. Lynn wasnâ€™t a regular Bible study attendee, but we all knew who she was from her frequent dog-walks.
â€œCan you please pray for me?â€ she asked, her voice breaking with emotion. â€œI have to put my dog down, and the pet hospice vet is coming to my house at 3 oâ€™clock to euthanize him.â€
Lynnâ€™s beloved Chippy was nearly fourteen, deaf, and suffering from congestive heart failure. Heâ€™d begun having seizures and she knew, as shattering as the decision was, that it was time. But as all pet owners know, realizing itâ€™s the right thing to do doesnâ€™t make it any easier.
Our group of eight neighbor women surrounded Lynn and prayed for Papa God to give her His supernatural comfort and peace during this most difficult time. Lynn left immediately afterward, wanting to spend as much time as possible with Chippy.
I couldnâ€™t stop thinking about Lynn all day. Had we done enough? Praying is, indeed the most and the least we can do for someone. But does kindness take concern a step further?
Lynn was a single mom with grown kids; Chippy was all she had. My heart ached for her. As much as I didnâ€™t want to relive the searing pain of having to put my sweet dog, Dusty, down, I knew I needed to extend to Lynn the compassionate arms of Jesus.
I cancelled my afternoon appointments and appeared at Lynnâ€™s door at 2:30 p.m. to offer my presence. I couldnâ€™t do much, but I could at least be there in Lynnâ€™s time of need. The vet was an hour late arriving, which heaped hot coals upon Lynnâ€™s heart as we petted Chippy and awaited the dreadful inevitable. But the beautiful part was that during that agonizing hour, one by one, the other gals from the Bible study group â€“ spontaneously â€“ trickled in to add their support too. When the horrible moment finally came, we were a cohesive prayer force. Together we cried with Lynn and laughed through our tears over funny Chippy stories. We were, for Lynn, Papa Godâ€™s love with skin on in.
Thatâ€™s kindness. On an everyday level.
Christ-followers treat others with kindness. We donâ€™t wait for someone to be kind to us; we show them how itâ€™s done. Sometimes the kindest words are unspoken. Like empathetic hugs. And warm brownies.
Anyone can do it. It doesnâ€™t require special knowledge, or spiritual gifting, or extra faith. â€œNever let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heartâ€ (Proverbs 3:3 NLT). You just have to be willing to put on your kindness necklace, open up your heart, and let the compassion of Jesus pour forth. Even if itâ€™s not appreciated or returned. After all, the best way to knock the chip off your neighborâ€™s shoulder is to pat her on the back.
*Adapted from Debâ€™s book, More Beauty, Less Beast: Transforming Your Inner Ogre
Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker, columnist, and multiple award-winning author of 200+ articles and more than 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with over 1.3 million copies sold in multiple languages worldwide. The next book in the series, Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3-Minute Devotional Journal for Women, releases December, 2020. And an updated reprinting of the bestselling original Too Blessed to be Stressed chapter book comes out November, 2020.
Deb is a piano teacher, tennis addict, choco-athlete (means she exercises just so she can eat more chocolate), and retired orthopedic occupational therapist (36 years). Debora lives, loves, and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband of 42 years, Chuck, and five rambunctious grandpals who live nearby. Join Debâ€™s fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com. While youâ€™re there, be sure to subscribe to her free e-newsletter and Too Blessed to be Stressed blog.