Beth Armstrong

Christian wife, mom, & author. Doing life with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I walk, I stumble, I fall. But God is big. And this is what I write about… Thanks for stopping by!

Archive for the tag “kindness”

DISHING ON DIFFICULT PEOPLE

I was being kind and compassionate and was prepared to go out of my way to be helpful. Then he bit my head off. I immediately thought, “Thanks for nothin’ there, bud!” I always go the extra mile in the respect, caring, and kindhearted department with this guy. And what I get in return is short, impatient, disrespectful responses. He grunts, he groans, or he growls at me nearly every time. He’s crusty. He’s rough around the edges to say the least. He once told me that when he dies he’s “going straight to hell because he’s one mean son of a bitch.” (Yep, that’s a direct quote from him.) Ever since he made that declaration, he’s been on my heart. For whatever reason, this week when I reached out to help out with my normal positive, considerate approach, and when he bit my head off, I thought to myself, “I’m done! I’m over you, dude! Game over!”

Later, another gentleman (not sure he really deserves that title if I’m being honest) told me he didn’t like me one bit at all. (What I really wanted to say was, “Yeah, the feeling is mutual!”) He let me know I was terrible at my job and that I needed to get with the program. He then stated that he didn’t like being around me and told me to go away. Apparently not long after we met I ticked him off. He doesn’t look at me, speak to me, or acknowledge me in any way. I say hello to him every time I see him. I ask him how his day is going. And he pretends that I don’t exist. Until this week. When I got an earful. And again, I thought to myself, “I’m done! I’m over you, dude! Game over!”

head buttWhen I deal with difficult people, my motto (and self-talk reminder) of the last several years has been, “Just kill ‘em with kindness.” But after this week, my new motto just might leave off the words “with kindness.”

“Bless those who curse you,” He said. I’d like to think Jesus was plum crazy or maybe on something when He challenged His listeners in this way. But that wasn’t the case at all. He was always taking what was right-side-up and turning it upside down. Or perhaps better to the point, He was always taking what was upside down, and turning it right-side-up. Paul reiterates Jesus’ words by adding, “Bless and do not curse.” Then Peter adds his two cents by saying, “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing…”

I think Jesus initiated these words because He knew that life was a grander story than just mere moments of insults and ingrates. He knew that He was part of a bigger story than the one written in the heat of the moment of disgust or displeasure with an individual. Not only was His story bigger, but so was that of the insulter, the attacker, the persecutor, the difficult person. And if He could weave kindness, compassion, grace, and mercy into their story, maybe it would awaken them to the bigger story they were a part of but just didn’t know it.

“Love your enemies,” He said. Why would I want to love them when they don’t return the sentiment? Loving them is an investment that doesn’t produce any kind of return, other than frustration on the part of the one giving the love. But this is what we’re challenged to do. To participate in God’s story–one in which He is speaking and acting. A story of unconditional love. And grace. And mercy.

“Love, do good, help, and lend to those difficult people in your life,” He said. Those difficult people in our lives aren’t problems to fix. They’re people. Made in the image of God. People to love. People to serve.

Jesus also added these words, “…expecting nothing in return.” That’s where it gets real. That’s where it gets raw. I want progress in return. I want a glimpse of something positive in return. I want my effort to mean something, to make an impact, to influence…and see evidence of it.

God says to all of us, “It’s not about the return. It’s about the story. I am writing your story just as I am writing theirs.”

So…we gear up, we armor up, we fill up and prepare ourselves to spill out love and blessings to those who curse us, our enemies, the ungrateful, the selfish, the hateful, and the mean-spirited. And we know after all the spillage, our bucket will indeed be empty. (Jesus probably experienced this on a regular basis.) But we go straight back to the Source to refuel. The Author of our story. The One who invites us to participate in it as best we can. By loving…doing good…and blessing.

 

THE QUANDARY OF ONE GOOD DEED

One good deed. Is it really a quandary? Seriously? What if we all did one good deed per day? What if we all did one kind thing for someone else every day? How in the world could this be called a quandary?

Let me explain…

As I was walking through my neighborhood this morning I came upon a trash bag sitting by the curb that was tipped over. It was several driveways ahead of me and I could see from a distance that the trash inside had fallen out and was strewn about the driveway and yard. With the passing of each driveway, I was one step closer to “the quandary.” Do I pick up the trash, or leave it? If I crossed the street to the other side before I reached “the quandary,” I wouldn’t even have to walk past it. I could avoid “the quandary” altogether.

I wrestled. I was torn with the dilemma of whether or not to do one good deed. One kind thing for someone else. As I walked ever nearer to this quandary, the conversations in my head borderlined on the ridiculous. It’s not my trash, therefore it’s not my responsibility. Surely the trash man will pick it up. That’s his job, isn’t it? I don’t want to give any passersby the impression that I’m sifting through people’s trash. I don’t really want to take the time to pick up somebody else’s trash.

See? It was a quandary.

But it was one good deed. One kind thing for someone else. Why should doing one good deed be such a quandary for us? I’ll tell you why…

  1. We value our time entirely too much to do one good deed.
  2. We don’t want to risk getting involved in doing one good deed.
  3. We worry too much about our reputation to do one good deed.
  4. We value our material possessions entirely too much to do one good deed.

Honestly, we need to “step over” ourselves just a little. We need to see things in a bigger picture sense. It’s time to obliterate the quandary. Let me ask the questions again: What if we all did one good deed per day? What if we all did one kind thing for someone else every day?

What if…?

Saint Basil once said, “A tree is known by its fruit, a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love.”

A good deed is never lost…So, what prevents you from doing one good deed?

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