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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

One recent rainy afternoon, we pulled up in the courtyard of a gracious, old B & B where we had booked to stay. The owner, a well-dressed, older lady, greeted us warmly and proceeded to give us a guided tour of the property. We chatted pleasantly and she then began telling us about another couple who had come to stay. Because they had booked late via an online site, she did not know they were coming, so had gone out for the day. As soon as she arrived home, however, the wife of this couple accosted her.

‘We’ve been waiting for you for five minutes!’ this lady said in an angry voice. ‘This is no way to run a business!’

According to our host, it then went downhill from there. The angry guest continued to fume and criticise, until our host had had enough and told them she did not want them to stay.

‘But I’ve paid!’ the angry lady objected.

‘Oh no you haven’t!’ our host told her firmly. ‘I have not authorised the site where you booked to accept any of my payments—my guests pay when they arrive here. This is my home and I don’t need to let your anger in here. Goodbye!’

With that, she closed the door in their face!

I immediately had visions of this couple trying vainly to find somewhere else to stay for the night, with no success. Yet I suppose our host had every right to deny them entry. Why should she let such an angry spirit affect the calm, peaceful environment she had created in her beautiful B & B?

At that point, I decided I needed to reassure her we at least were not angry guests.

‘Well, we certainly come here with joy and not anger,’ I told her. ‘And I hope we bring peace as well.’

I would have liked to say more, but our conversation ended there, as the owner had to go. However, as I relaxed in our lovely accommodation, this whole story kept buzzing in my mind. And soon I found myself wondering what kind of baggage I take into any place I enter. As a child of God, I have God’s Spirit in me, so hopefully I would carry something at least of the love and grace of God with me wherever I go, in some sort of tangible way. Hopefully too, at least some of those fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—would also be evident in the words I say and the way I treat others. Yet… surely there have been many times when I have entered someone’s home or business with anger… or judgment… or plain old grumpiness in my heart?

It’s a sobering thought that we have been entrusted with carrying God’s peace and light into the places we go, isn’t it? We can choose to open our hearts and joyfully do this—or we can decide to close them and, in the process, only add to others’ burdens. We can bless—or we can curse. The choice is ours.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26

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It’s amazing how some little word or act of kindness can lift our spirits and change our day, isn’t it? Perhaps you may feel you have been lifting others up quite a lot instead lately, in this challenging, lockdown time. Yet we all need to receive as well and experience those special moments when our hearts feel a little lighter.

Recently, I dashed to our local fruit shop to buy some ingredients for our dinner, including parsley. But as I paid for my items, I fell into complaining mode.

‘I can’t believe I’m having to buy parsley,’ I told the girl at the checkout. ‘Right now, our daughter has heaps of it growing in her garden on the other side of Sydney, but of course that’s further than five kilometres away. And her parsley’s so lovely and flavoursome too.’

The girl smiled sympathetically, then looked thoughtful, as she adjusted her pretty, pink headscarf.

‘Um … would you like some fresh parsley instead?’

At first, I didn’t understand what she was saying. Her accent was quite strong—and I was puzzled too, as I had hoped the parsley I had bought was fresh. But then she went on to explain further.

‘I dropped into my dad’s place this morning to give him some sweets I know he really loves and he wanted me to come in, but I said I wasn’t allowed. So he said, “Well, at least take some of the parsley from my garden with you!” We use it to make tabouli, but would you like some?’

At that point, she picked up the parsley I had bought, put it back in its display stand rather disdainfully and hurried to the rear of the shop. After a short while, she re-emerged and handed over a huge clump of her father’s beautiful, fresh parsley to me.

‘It’s good—and it’s organic too!’ she told me proudly.

I know it was only a bunch of parsley, but I was so touched.

‘Wow, that’s wonderful!’ I told her. ‘Thank you so much—and please thank your father too. God bless you!’

She looked a little stunned at my final words, but, somehow, they had just burst out of me. I truly did want God to bless her. She had done something so kind and unexpected for me—and I felt her actions had pleased God’s heart too.

That evening, as I chopped my lovely, fresh parsley for our dinner, I realised this girl’s actions had not only blessed me but taught me something too. We all need those kind words and actions right now, even more than usual—and I needed to remember this more often. I need to be part of the solution, rather than add to the problem by complaining and feeling hard done by. Besides, surely this is what God wants us all to do?

Be kind and compassionate to one another … Ephesians 4:32

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. 1 Thessalonians 5:15

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up. Proverbs 12:25

Little things are so important, aren’t they? Especially those kind words and deeds that reflect God’s own kindness and build us all up.

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‘You are one of the most loyal people I know,’ someone told me years ago. At the time, this comment puzzled me because I was sure I had never consciously chosen to live that way. Instead, I had always thought that, if anyone truly believed in someone or in what a particular group or organisation stood for, then of course he or she would remain loyal to them.

Since then, I have become a little less naïve and have realised this is not always the case. Sometimes, we become bored or perhaps disenchanted, for some reason, and want to try something different. Sometimes, we get a better offer. Sometimes, we are less than honest and trustworthy in our relationships. Yet we all need and long for those faithful, loyal friends who will stick by us, don’t we?

Recently, I have been busy promoting my latest novel, Down by the Water¸ an historical novel set in Queensland in the early 1900s. In order to let family, friends and acquaintances know the book is available, I sent out emails and also held a Facebook Live book launch. I did not know what sort of response to expect from all this, especially since I have never held a Facebook Live launch before. And I was also aware that many of my family and friends do not want more books lying around at this stage of their lives. Nevertheless, over this past week or two, I have received emails from a good number of them, ordering a copy or arranging to drop in and pick up one—or more—from me.

As well, some have even bothered to email me after finishing the book to tell me how it impacted them. When such emails arrive, I feel relieved, but also so thankful. You see, many of these people have stuck with me throughout my whole writing journey of around fifteen years now, buying a copy of each book I produce and encouraging me along the way. They have truly been such loyal, faithful supporters—and I am so grateful for each one of them.

But experiencing their generosity of heart has caused me to think about myself too and how faithful and loyal I am each day towards others—and towards God. Sometimes, I say one thing, yet do another. Sometimes, I want to be faithful and loyal, yet I lack the courage to do so. Sometimes, I choose an easier way. Sometimes am I more like the Apostle Peter than I care to admit, telling Jesus I will never disown him, then doing exactly that (Matthew 26).

Yet I love how, despite Peter’s downfall, Jesus reinstates him and commissions him to care for his sheep (John 21:15-19). And it’s such a relief to know Jesus will always welcome me back too with that same love and forgiveness, when I am less than loyal to him. But that doesn’t mean I can take such kindness and mercy for granted. Instead, I need to be as faithful as I can be, loving Jesus with my whole heart and serving him with joy—forever.  

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Proverbs 3:3

May God enable me—and you—each day to do just that.

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Jo 23In this time of COVID19, as I entered our local supermarket, I looked for the hand sanitiser. Yes, there it was—but alas, there were no wipes left for hands or shopping trolleys or whatever. I decided it might be good to point this out to one of the staff members—and watched as this message was relayed from one to the other without much action. In the end, I could not wait any longer and went on my way.

I did not get far, however, before a tiny, elderly lady stopped me and held something out to me. Her English was minimal but her actions spoke louder than any words ever could. With a smile and a kindly nod, she held out a packet of her own wipes and offered me one.

‘Thank you so much—God bless you!’ I said to her as I took one, at which point she smiled even more broadly.

Her little act of kindness changed my whole attitude that morning. I had been feeling just a tad put out, but this lady’s thoughtful action lifted my spirits so much, like a sudden ray of sunshine peeping through the clouds.

Not long after, I noticed a rather short lady trying to reach a carton of long-life milk high up on a shelf in one aisle. At first, I hesitated, recalling how we are not supposed to get too close to other shoppers. But then I remembered my lovely, little lady who had given me one of her wipes. Being tall, I could easily help this person.

‘Can I get a carton down for you?’ I offered.

‘Oh yes—two, please!’ she told me in a relieved voice.

I did as she asked—it was no problem.

‘Thank you so much!’ she said, beaming. ‘Now you have a lovely day!’

Again, I felt my spirits lift as I walked off. Such a little thing—yet it had made two people happy.

Eventually, I reached the checkout where the cheery staff member began chatting to me. I cannot remember what she said now, but I do remember how every second sentence ended with the word ‘darl’!

‘How are you, darl?’

‘I’m fine, thanks. How are you?’

‘I’m good, darl. Give me your bags—I can pack them. Is that too much in this bag for you, darl? No? No worries, darl!’

Yes, just a pleasant checkout chat—and yes, perhaps this was her natural way with everyone. Yet it too lifted my spirits. She could have looked glum. She could have worked on without connecting with me at all. Instead, she was warm, pleasant and kind.

As I went on my way, I could not help thinking what a difference all these brief connections had made to my morning. Sometimes it’s the little things that count, isn’t it? Sometimes being kind to someone can act like a lovely, soothing balm to their spirits and perhaps even reflect one tiny aspect of God’s kindness and grace to them. Yes, I love those times when God prompts us to say more or do more. But what a privilege to be part of showering God’s grace on others via the little things too!

As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

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