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Kindness vs. Meanness and the Boomerang Effect

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. –Matthew 7:12

(ROCKWALL, TX – Aug. 31, 2019) I’ve been hovering in emotional limbo lately. Mildly depressed about navigating another change of seasons solo. Disappointed in myself for shrinking from the challenges of widowhood and book publishing and settling into a new home. Bored with my routine.

This morning I wrote across the top of my journal page: Fresh start. New attitude. Return to the basics. Morning devotions, socializing, confronting the to-do list.

I have a number of extraordinary people in my life who propel me over these bumps in the road. Most often they don’t realize what’s going on. They just happen to excel at this friendship thing. But I can’t expect even these pros to read my mind. Or my mood.

So, this morning I sought out and found encouragement in Isaiah 40:31, which says, “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength” (NIV). Then I pushed myself off the couch after breakfast. (Yes, I confess to eating all my meals sprawled across the living room sofa, talking back to the television—the single girl’s version of table conversation.)

Next, I resisted punching the dismiss button when the cell phone buzzed a reminder of my first self-assigned task of the day right in the middle of a really good crossword puzzle.

And then I prayed. This is something I did continuously while hyperventilating my way through the worst 20 months of my life after losing my beloved husband of 30 years. A little more comfortable, a little more secure these days, I tend to recite a few formulaic lines of gratitude, then roll on into my day. But this morning I focused: Dear Lord, help me to be a blessing to someone today.

Whoosh, that lovely thought took flight the first time somebody cut me off in traffic. Idiot. Oops. And once my body was parked at the public library’s computer, I grumbled under my breath about the irksome noise level. Oops, again.

Eventually I got lost in internet research and forgot to be disgruntled. When the burka-clad young woman beside me encouraged her son to keep his voice down, I smiled to myself. And as I stood to leave, I was pleased when she asked, “Excuse me, but could you look at this sentence and tell me if it is too wordy?”

Seems she is applying for a job. The prospective employer has given her suggestions for improving her cover letter. Confident that I could put my self-editing experience to good use, I gently critiqued the weaknesses of the paragraph in question: passive voice; repeated terminology; unnecessary qualifiers. I suggested some cuts and we worked together to tweak the word choices. Ultimately I came up with the perfect action verb to energize her closing lines. She was delighted. I was delighted. We giggled in celebration and did a virtual high five in victory.

I wished her the best, and floated out of the library feeling every bit as blessed as this person I’d been led to assist. Back in my van, wrapped in wonder, I thought about how a mean gesture rains harm on both parties while a giving gesture does the opposite. But if she hadn’t asked….

And Who orchestrated all of this? Our Father in Heaven, omniscient and almighty, who does read minds and moods. The One who loves me in Christ and has the power to counterbalance any of my “oops” moments. That One.

By Sue Anne Kirkham. 

 

 

 

 

 

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