Mike and I had a long drive out of town together last weekend. I love rare time alone with him to talk about life. I was confessing this flaw that I have to him. I have this unrealistic expectation that when I am kind to someone else, I expect kindness in return. When it doesn't happen, my feelings can be hurt. I don't know if I should admit that here or not. Does that make me sound too...human? I guess that's irrelevant, but it is the truth. I have this deep desire for the whole wide world to just be one big kind happy place and we all know that's just about as far from reality as life can possibly be. Not because "OTHER PEOPLE" are flawed, but because "I" am equally flawed.
Anywho, as he always does, Mike gave me this talk about not expecting anything from anyone ever. Just love people wildly without expecting an ounce of anything in return. Not a thank you. Not kindness. Expect nothing from no one ever. Just be kind anyway. I was sitting there listening to him thinking, DAMN IT! I know this advise is true, but I hate accepting it sometimes! But I know I need it.
So, this morning I was reading, and as GOD always does, my eyes landed on this from the book of Luke in The Message version of the Bible. It said EXACTLY what Mike had told me two days before, and again, if I'm honest, I had that same, "DANG IT" response! This means I have to do something differently. This means I need to change my thinking. My expectations. I should love people that I don't really want to, when I'd sometimes rather just not. Not only for them, but for me.
Here's what I read...
"To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person.....
"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that?
"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never- I promise- regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we are at our worst. Our father is kind, you be kind."
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults-- unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people, you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back---given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting is the way. Generosity begets "leads to" generosity."
I find that when I am struggling with life, something big or something small, that God will always lead me to the right words, if I take the time to seek the truth. It never ceases to blow my mind. To be honest, it often feels like a punch in the gut. It requires me to do something different to get different results. Mike always says to me, living a Christian life feels like doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what you feel like doing. It is almost always the exact opposite of what society tells us to do. Every single time I choose to listen, I find more Peace and Joy in the chaos, but I am the first to admit, it is not easy. It require me trusting someone outside of myself. It means that I have to have faith that God will make things right, in His time.
I'm not sharing this for YOU, but for me. I have read it. Then reread it. And then typed it. Written out in a journal by hand. I need to let it sink in and live it, but it can be a challenge.
My sister read this and said, "You usually have a good story to tell. What made you want to write this?"
I can't tell you any stories to go with this. I know without a doubt that other people can relate, but it's really just about me and my human struggles and how I've come to deal. Or should I say, I'm still learning to deal and finding more and more JOY in the CHAOS!
I would say, Be Kind. Whenever, wherever, choose kindness. At work, at school, on social media, at Wal-Mart, in our own homes, where ever we are, be kind. Stand up for kindness. Not just when it feels RIGHT or FAIR, but even when it doesn't. The people who are often in the most desperate need of Love are sometimes the hardest to love! We won't get it right every time. We are human after all. But we can work on it everyday. And eventually, it gets easier and easier. You'll see that God sees and blesses the generosity in ways that you'd never have imagined.