7 Ways to Spread Kindness this Week

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My heart aches for my country today. For the hatred and the alienation, for the division and the brokenness. My heart goes out to those who feel betrayed by their own country and for the damage that has been done, as I strive to respect the leadership that is now in place and trust God’s hand in all of this.

My mind is heavy with words yet I am at a loss to know what to say.

Broken culture is everywhere – media, entertainment, business, and politics. We have watched while Hollywood waters down masculinity and femininity, inflames racial issues, and perpetuates destructive worldviews. We have been alienated and put down and shamed and belittled in a thousand ways. Silence and passiveness have been celebrated as well as abuse and violence. Our differences have been labeled as weakness, rather than strength.

We shed tears for the state of this nation, but may we weep also for the times we have remained silent while all this was happening around us—when we closed our eyes to the pain and the hurt. May these times awaken within us that which has stayed dormant for far too long. May we embrace our God-given differences, our individual strengths and recognize how desperately we need each other.

So how do we process this? How do we not only cope, but rise up and take action?

Friends, I implore you, look for the light. If you can’t find kindness around you, be it. Be the good that you wish to see in the world. Envision the kind of world you want your sons and your daughters to live in, and begin to live in that hope. Champion hope, for hope is the substance of change. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Cast vision for the broken people around you and lend them strength to keep fighting for love and unity.

Most importantly of all…pray. Intercede on behalf of broken leadership, broken systems, and broken hearts. Pray Daniel 9 over this nation. Pray for repentance, unity, truth, love, and deep healing in every heart. Pray for those who stand against you, even when it’s hard…especially when it’s hard. Lean into the heartache and grief; let them fuel your prayers for radical change. Encourage others to do the same.

And in the meantime, here is a list of 7 things you can do to promote kindness this week. #spreadlovenothate

7 Ways to Spread Kindness this Week:

  1. Practice gratitude. Write down 3-5 things every morning that you’re grateful for. Point out things you love about the people around you. Look for the good in people.
  2. Listen first. Be slow to criticize. Pay attention to what kind of vibes someone is giving off—are they stressed or uptight or defensive? Try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and think about what they may be feeling and why.
  3. Let love be the motive that guides and informs you. Forgive. Extend grace. Let go of the outcome.
  4. Do something that brings you joy. Take a 10-minute walk around your neighborhood. Color a picture. Bake brownies. Call a loved one. Paint. Write. Tell a silly joke. Be intentional about it. If you are joyful, you will emanate joy to the people around you.
  5. Do a small act of kindness—anonymous or not. Write a thank you letter or note of encouragement. Bring someone coffee. Do the dishes. Send an encouraging text. Bring home flowers. Hold the door open.
  6. Ask someone how they are and linger for a few undistracted minutes. Take time to genuinely listen to their answer. Don’t touch your phone. Let them know they are seen.
  7. Smile. At your loved ones, your neighbor, that co-worker that drives you nuts, the stranger in the grocery store. Look them in the eyes and genuinely smile. Say hi, nod your head…whatever it is you do, but smile. Spread kindness.

Now go do it, hope warrior. We’re counting on you.

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7 Ways to Spread Kindness this Week

A Letter to Your Weary Heart, and Mine

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Dear Heart,

The world is an ugly place these days. You feel it deep.

People are lost, empty. Lashing out in their confusion.

You don’t understand it. Neither do they.

Dear heart, don’t become jaded.

The news bleeds these days. It’ll rip you raw, but don’t let it numb you.

Apathy is just as dangerous as hatred.

All this hurts so deep, but don’t close your eyes to the broken.

Don’t shut your ears to their cries.

Don’t close your heart off. I know you want to.

Fear runs rampant. It trembles in the bravest knees.

Dear heart, don’t let it debilitate you.

Dear heart, the world needs you.

Your voice is small, but your light is steady. It shines brightly in this darkness.

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You don’t have all the answers and your love isn’t big enough to fix a broken nation, not to mention a broken world.

But you have hope and you know a Love that is able.

You may not be able to heal a hurting society, but you can soothe one hurting heart in the mess.

You can reach for another trembling hand and clasp it brave. Because hearing “you are not alone in this” can break down defenses and soften a bitter heart.

People will challenge your intentions, your beliefs, your strength. They will call you names to shut you up because they’re afraid of the truth in your words.

Will you stand under pressure?

Will you fall on your knees in prayer for the victims, because it could have been you?

Will you intercede not only on behalf of the persecuted and abused, but for the persecutors and abusers as well?

Because all need grace.

Especially you. Especially me.

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Dear heart, don’t weary yourself with worry. It is not your battle to fight.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Be still and know His heart – toward you, toward them.

Be still and know that He is working good out of all this mess, because that’s what the Father does.

Be still and know. He is greater. He is good.

 

“This is what the Lord says: Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s…you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, O people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” 2 Chronicles 20:15b, 17 NLT

A Letter to Your Weary Heart, and Mine

I Choose

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These past couple weeks I’ve learned a lot about forgiving people – including myself. I’ve learned how to pray for those who have hurt me.

Praying blessings is powerful – to bless those who curse.

It’ll change the way you think about them, to intercede on their behalf, to plead with the Father for their happiness and well-being, to pray deep faith and abiding peace and overflowing joy over them.

It’ll do things to you – eliminate selfishness and bitterness, change the way you love.

Not for the faint of heart but I highly recommend it if you’re willing to learn a lesson in humility.

That’s where I’m at for the moment.

Humbleness. Prayer. Letting go of the need to be right, to be understood.

Because let’s face it, we’re going to be misunderstood sometimes. People aren’t always going to stick around to hear our side of the story and we’re not always going to get our apology.

And it’s okay. Really.

Their opinion doesn’t define you. It’s how you respond that defines you.

So I choose forgiveness and blessing and grace.

And that is when the healing comes.

I Choose

This Is Salvation

I’ve been fascinated with him, ever since I picked up a book titled The Jesus I Never Knew. Philip Yancy writes frankly of his surprise at the contrast of the mild, almost timid Jesus he grew up being taught about to this suddenly bold, character who waltzed into the middle of comfortable Judaism, so sure of himself, arguably arrogant with his lofty claims, this daring rebel who defied tradition and spoke like he created the universe.

And it’s been argued for centuries who he really is – liar, lunatic, or the Lord he claimed to be.

Yet if he really was this – this person with the fullness of the mighty God all wrapped up in human flesh – what does this mean for us?

For the God of the universe to have visited this little planet…dare we grasp the gravity of its connotations?

Sometimes I forget. I walk blindly through my days, apathetic to the person of Jesus – who sweat agony in a silent garden – Very God humbled to submission. He took on all my guilt and shame and worries along with the rest of the worlds’ and how can I not fall humbled in adoration at the thought? I worry like it’s my right when the God of the universe suffered so deeply that I shouldn’t have to… I insist on carrying my own guilt like a punishment, on earning my way back into favor like His kind of love could possibly falter at a little thing like human weakness. He already knows. He knew in that moment when he felt every failure on his shoulders.

And he loved anyway. He died anyway.

Ann Voskamp once wrote of how we’re left wrung out when we try to climb rungs we weren’t meant to – as if we could reach God by our own efforts – because the task is kind of like dragging camel humps through needles’ eyes and we will never earn our way to goodness or happiness or fulfillment. Yet still we insist on trying. And God watches us with gentle eyes, always waited for us to give up – and give in to the Love that closes the distance between the weary heart and His own.

So I read this Jesus the Messiah: a Survey of the Life of Christ and even the tedious details cannot hide the wonder of a God who gave up splendor for human brokenness to break through our thick-skinned apathy to him.

Because we had grown tough. Humanity swallowed centuries of disappointment and hearts swelled heavy with the burden of religion, of blind repetition to redeem their constant failures. Continuously reminded of their shortcomings, they grew so heavy – jaded. Distant from a God whom they could never reach.

I prayed like that for years – throwing my prayers upward, figuring most times they bounced off the ceiling, but if I was faithful enough, fervent enough, they would be just strong enough to touch the gates of heaven and bounce weakly into the throne room.

And it wasn’t until reading Brother Lawrence that I suddenly knew in my spirit He was here right in front of me and behind me and beside me and inside me and no matter how quietly I whispered to this God of mine, it was as loud as could be because He was here, leaning into every word.

And this God wore His heart on His sleeve for hundreds of years, aching deep at generation after generation of rejection yet ever patient, waiting for that perfect time to send His biggest gift. The one He’d been saving…anticipating since the first breaking off in the first garden. His presence in human form – Immanuel. So we could touch Him and hear Him and know Him. So He could dwell with us and in us. So we could once more be like Him.

This is Salvation.

And this is the truth our souls ache to seek out, to explore the mystery of this God who once limited Himself so there would be no limit to knowing Him.

This Is Salvation