Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Face of Kindness

When I said my word for the year was to be 'moved with compassion', I never thought it would require conflict. While it may have conjured up an image of the poverty stricken on the other side of the world or even the social issues in my own neighborhood, that's not really what I had in mind.  My passion was to simply be a nicer person, to think of others before myself.  I know, that sounds so basic. How hard can it be to love, and to practice kindness?  As I'm finding out, it is one of the most difficult virtues I have ever pursued.

Love gets involved in other people's lives, even when its messy, and yes, even when it would be easier to simply ignore the issues and hope they go away.  And sometimes, kindness has to confront and make another person feel uncomfortable.  Peace does not necessarily mean I say what others want to hear, but rather, it comes only by addressing the issues.  More often than not, this involves some conflict.  Yet, the conflict can be a good thing, if it produces an end result that is authentic and which truly builds rather than tears down.

Joseph, (you know, the guy with the coat of many colors), sought reconciliation and healing for his family, but he knew it could never come about until his brothers were willing to face their past.  I've never quite understood why Joseph seemed to taunt his brothers before revealing his true identity.  It seemed harsh and mean, a stab at revenge, before he succumbed to forgiveness.  Yet, I realize now, that it was none of that. In reality, Joseph was moved with compassion!  He was doing what was best for them in a way that caused them to listen.  Wow! This kind of love is hard to swallow!

Past experience has taught me not to bulldoze ahead, nor to speak and later be filled with endless regrets for words that can never be taken back. Instead, I must proceed with great caution and first prepare the way with fervent prayer. But, more often than not, God is waiting for my attitude to be in the right place, so that I am truly moved, not with a critical spirit, but with genuine compassion.

God has called me to care enough to be involved. Not to meddle, but to build. Not to scold, but to reveal. And so I do the uncomfortable, stepping forward into risky obedience, seeking to come alongside another, offering my heart and my hands in deepest compassion. I never dreamed that this is the place where love would take me, that God might have uniquely positioned me as a tool in His hands "for such a time as this".

I have an author friend who wrote a book about broken glass, how it can be saudered together to be something more beautiful than it ever was before . . . stained, yes, but now catching the light in vibrant color and designs. (Broken by Design by Koni Attencio) I'm reminded that God never leaves us to flounder in the place of pain, but rather nudges us to move forward.  Even if the source of pain is never removed from our lives, we can count on Him to sustain us through it, for He promises a future and a hope.  In every trial, He graciously provides an opportunity to build a testimony.  No matter how deep the pit, beauty can come from these ashes, for my God is all about redemption.

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