The Kindness of a Stranger


Picture this: you’re having a bad day. Someone asks you a question and you immediately snap at them. Did they deserve that response? No. Did they snap back at you? Most likely yes.
Perhaps it’s human nature. Or how we’re raised. Or just our own selfish attitudes that immediately tell us to treat others how they are treating us.
Whatever happened to the golden rule?
Do unto others as you would have done to you.

 

We live in a world where being kind to someone for no reason, much less being kind when we’d rather retaliate, is nearly non-existent. And perhaps, dare I say, it’s even rarer to find among the Christian groups/people?
I found myself in this exact situation last week. I had received horrible news that morning that a dear friend, someone I loved very much, had been in a horrible accident and was clinically brain dead.
I mustered enough strength to make it through work that morning. But by lunch, all I could think about was getting away, if even just for a moment.
So I took myself to lunch. As I sat there, all of those emotions from the morning began to well up inside of me. Then after sitting there for 10 minutes with no waitress, another emotion came up: anger. I had a very limited amount of time for lunch and I didn’t have time to waste waiting on a non-existent waitress.
Shortly there after she finally showed up and I was quick to quip a snarky remark about it.
But she didn’t retaliate.
She apologized profusely and very honestly.
She never even hesitated to return my anger with genuine kindness of her own.
I left there thinking of this encounter for the rest of the afternoon.
That waitress had no idea what I was going through, the emotions I was dealing with. And not that it made my actions justifiable, but her kindness did something to me. It changed me.

 

I honestly contemplated going back by the restaurant after work to hug that waitress and apologize for being rude.
The Word says: A gentle answer deflects wrath, but harsh words make tempers flare. Proverbs 15:1 NLT
I’m still dealing with my own grief, guilt, and what-ifs over the death of my friend, but it doesn’t give me a free pass to take it out on others. And I know for sure, next time someone snaps at me, my first thought will be (or at least should be) – I wonder what they’re going through and how can I help them?
You never know – that person might be dealing with the death of someone they loved dearly. They might be dealing with more than you or I could ever fathom.
Don’t be quick to judge. Don’t be quick to retaliate. Don’t return anger with more anger. Love them. Be kind to them. Do unto them as you would want done unto you.

 

As I prepare to say goodbye to my lifelong friend, I hope to be that kindness to someone else some day. I hope to be the kindness of a stranger in this world.

The “What-If” Quicksand

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The past three weeks have been perhaps the most stressful and yet biggest opportunity for growth I’ve ever had in my life.

On Easter Sunday, I was t-boned.

It was one of those moments in life where everything slows down, as if watching a movie in slow motion, and yet at the same time, it all happened so fast, I don’t even remember the airbags going off. After the car spun and finally came to a stop, I knew two things: 1. My car was totaled (I knew it even without seeing the damage) and 2. I knew this was absolutely not my fault and I was accepting nothing less than that.

After I managed to crawl out the passenger side of my car (in a short dress and heels no less – it was Easter after all) shock set in as anger, panic, and fear began to try and take root.

Then, the ‘what-ifs” started.

What if I had gone to church that Sunday with my parents instead of attending my church first?

What if I hadn’t gone back inside my church to talk to someone afterwards, delaying me just a few moments more?

What if I had taken a different route?

What if, what if, what if………

I was drowning fast in the quicksand of ‘what-ifs’.

I’m sure my mother saw the panic setting in as I began to slowly meltdown sitting in the speaker’s room at church. But her kind words brought me back (even if it was just a little bit back) – “Forgive him. Walk in forgiveness. Walk in love.”  (Although she admitted later she was having just as hard of a time doing the exact same thing – and she wasn’t even in the car with me).

I can not even count how many times I have repeated this to myself over the past three weeks. Sometimes just in my head. Sometimes under my breath. Sometimes nearly screaming it at myself. But none-the-less, I have confessed it nearly every day.

Within an hour of the accident, I could already see God working on me. Some of those “what-ifs” turned to “thank you Lord!”s. Like – “what if my front airbag had gone off where my hand was on the horn?” became “Thank you Lord that there are NO BROKEN BONES! Thank you Lord that I walked away!” “What if he had hit my door instead of the back door?” became “Thank you Lord that Your guardian angels kept him from hitting my door.”

But, just because God is working on you, doesn’t mean satan still doesn’t try to take that joy away. It wasn’t too many more minutes after that when the worry began to creep in.

What am I going to do? How am I going to afford another car? How am I even going to get to work tomorrow? (Yup, that’s me – the practical one).

Over the next few days I began to have a new revelation of worry, regret, and resting in God.

You see – the more “what-if” thoughts I entertained, the more I began to see regret and worry try to take over. “What-ifs” over decisions already made, is nothing but REGRET. And “what-ifs” about future decision,  not yet made, is nothing but WORRY.

But what does the Word say about this all?

Cast your cares over on to God for He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7).

And if God cares so much for the smallest of creatures in His creation, how much more so does He care for you?! He will provide for you so don’t let worry take over! (Matthew 6).

I began to realize that not only was I drowning in the “what-if” quicksand of regrets, but I was already putting stock in “what-if” worry that hadn’t even happened yet. “What if I meet someone tomorrow, get married, and have a baby – I’d need a bigger, more practical vehicle?”, “What if my finances don’t continue to improve and I’m stuck with a car payment?”, “What if the insurance company offers me pennies on the dollar value for my car?”….what if, what if, what if.

And that’s when it really hit me…I wasn’t just living this moment in the “what-ifs”, I had been living the last 12yrs of my life based on “what-ifs”!  I’ve been living my life putting more faith in fear of the unknown than putting faith in God, the known!

There’s only one thing that can pull you out of this downward spiral of drowning in what-if quicksand – God. This is where you have to cast those cares over on to Him. You have to trust that He loves you so much, He will take care of you and won’t let you want for anything. This is where you have to say enough is enough – I won’t put faith in worry anymore. I won’t live a life paralyzed by “what-ifs”.

Things don’t always go according to plan. Heck, let’s face it…things very rarely go according to OUR plan. But God…God’s always got a plan that is bigger and better than ours, and He’s standing at attention, ready to take over the moment we say “not I Lord, but You!”  “Not my care Lord – I give it all over to you!”

We’re now 3 weeks out from the accident. Praise God I’m getting better every day, less sore, and I’m learning to put faith in Him instead of in the “what-ifs”. Praise God for His over and above blessings and a great testimony and lesson from this all.

Do I have it all figured out yet? Of course not. But God does and His plan is far superior to mine! I’m ready to use His word as a bridge over this quicksand of “what-if”, worry and regret, and move forward in to the blessing He has waiting for me!