seem to be a constant thing lately. We’ve witnessed, whether up close and personal or via the news and social media, hurricanes, tornados, flooding, shootings and more. It feels like every other week there is something causing us to sit back and ponder how difficult life is. How fluid. How it can all change in a mere moment.
How do we get to a place where there’s hope again? How do we find that elusive light at the end of the tunnel? What brings you to a place where you may once again exhale and feel safe in your surroundings?
I remember back to 9-11. We lived in the Boston area at the time and because of the distance to New York City, many of the residents in our area also traveled to NYC often. Several of the home offices of their businesses were there so travel was necessary. And flights to Los Angeles from Boston were so common. In fact, my husband flew from LAX to BOS that early morning prior to 9-11’s devastation. It was impossible to live in that community and not know someone connected to this tragedy.
Shortly after, my friend and I went to a Neil Diamond concert at what was then called the Fleet Center in Boston. It wasn’t long after 9-11 and security was at it’s highest level. Purses were emptied, bodies scanned and we went through X-ray machines. All this to get into a concert. Funny thing though? There was still some fear and trepidation. We were with thousands of people in one place to see a concert. We were a perfect target and that thought, although Neil Diamond was fabulous, never left us!
When he sang “America” though the place went completely wild! Tragedy brought unity to the citizens of the USA. Flags were flown on cars and in storefronts. People were kinder to one another because as a nation, we all shared this “together”.
Now as a nation we’ve seen Harvey tear through Houston, the surrounding areas and my beloved Florida. We’ve watched San Juan, Puerto Rico and surrounding islands completely decimated by Irma and then Maria. We’ve watched the tragedy in Orlando, Florida just a little over a year ago where 49 people were killed. And last night, at last count 53 people killed and over 500 injured in Las Vegas. And last but certainly not least, we have several racial issues that have broken hearts in 2017 and before.
What are we doing? Who do we lean on? What happened to that kinder, gentler nation we saw after 9-11? And what on earth is it going to take to get it back?
It’s ALL of our jobs to fix this. We can’t make madmen or women change their modus operandi but we can change how we treat one another.
- Smile and say hello to the people who walk past you. You don’t know them? It’s okay. They won’t bite you and it doesn’t cost you one thing to say hello and greet someone with a smile.
- Do something unexpected. Hold a door open for them. You see someone carrying a load of groceries to their car? Offer to help! Is there an elderly person walking into the store? Grab a cart from the lot and take it to them. You will make their day!
- Buy your person flowers for absolutely no reason. Don’t wait until the holidays when the same bouquet that would normally cost $10-$15 is now $40! Come home with fresh flowers and receive a smile, hug and maybe something a little more! (Just saying. Flowers are my love language. So is helping around the house. Nod if you’re with me??)
- Don’t get angry because someone cut you off in traffic. Don’t show your kids that. Instead, say, “Maybe they are in a hurry to get home because their wife isn’t feeling well.” I know. They probably are just impatient and think that they own the road but let’s teach out kids that it’s possible it could be something else!
- Out to eat? Pick up someone’s tab anonymously. We see this quite a bit in drive thru’s and it is fabulous. Try it inside sometime, too. In our Cafe, we have been blown away by the people who pick up someone else’s tab. Let me tell you. The one who is enacting the kind gesture receives a blessing as well as the one who is benefiting from the kind gesture. But also, all of us around who are witnessing it are touched and uplifted. It truly has a domino effect!
- Tell someone that you love their hairdo or their dress or their shoes or that they look beautiful or handsome today. You can do this without it being a flirty thing. Makes people feel good that someone noticed them. Don’t we all love this?
- Another easy one. Say please, thank you and I’m sorry. Bump into someone? Say sorry! Someone hands you something or holds that door open for you? Say thank you!! Asking someone to do something? Always end with a please. So easy, friends!
- Zip our lips. We will not ever agree with everyone around us. Sometimes, this is really tough. Really. Really. Tough. But life goes on and we have to make decisions. Continue in relationship or has the ship sailed on this one? Either way, we can still be friendly without being friends. We can still be co workers without being friends. Believe it or not, we can still serve Jesus without necessarily being friends with those beside us. And we can believe what we believe without alienating others. Right or left leaners, especially, how we can learn from this. Just because we have opinions doesn’t mean we need to share them. Especially in the way they have been shared in recent months/years. It’s been awful to witness and makes one want to completely unplug. It’s been worse than SEC football in the South even and that is saying a lot!! Zip the lips. Be kind even if you disagree!
To quote my friend and Pastor, Dr. Robert White, Jr.:
How to Disagree in a Disagreeable Time
Everyone knows there are serious differences and disagreements over any number of issues these days. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with having a difference or disagreement-it is the way we disagree that is important. Too often we end up going from talking with each other to talking at each other and finally talking about each other. Social media only makes it easier to follow this destructive progression.
I offer the following two quotes as worthy of our consideration when we find ourselves in a disagreement.
“The crucial prerequisite of intelligent disagreement — namely: shut up; listen up; pause and reconsider; and only then speak.”
Excerpt from The Dying Art of Disagreement by Bret Stephens.
Maybe we should learn to heed the advice found in James 1:19 -“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.”
By no means have I mastered this but I am working on it – I hope you are making progress as well-just in case we ever find ourselves in some disagreement with each other.
Such a good perspective during times of stand up, kneel down, fist in the air, love the President, detest the President, you are an idiot for voting for him, “he” is God-ordained to be in office and so forth. It’s like a carousel that will not quit and all of our heads are spinning out of control. Where is the Dramamine??!!
I have hanging above my doorframe that leads to the garage this little sign I purchased on Etsy a couple of years ago. It is a quote that Jen Hatmaker said in her book, “For the Love”. It’s a gentle reminder each day to our family and although we have not arrived in any sense of the word, when I look at the sign it jars me back into a place where yes, I need to:
Be Kind. Be You. Love Jesus.
Jesus may not be your Person but oh how I wish He was. He is the most authentic, genuine lover of ALL mankind. As Author/Podcaster Jamie Ivey says in her upcoming book release, “If You Only Knew: My Unlikely, Unavoidable Story of Becoming Free”,
Jesus is Better!!
Be kind. Love people. Choose a smile over a frown. Hold a door open. Pray. Cherish. Serve. Make this world a better place because you’re here. Choose joy and gratitude.
With an abundance of love…….
Dr. Robert White, Jr.