Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Category: Life (page 1 of 16)

The Price of Kindness

Have you ever had your kindness abused? I have. In fact, I have a particular friend that is the absolute kindest person I know and she has received her fair share of mistreatment over the years. She is always smiling, always encouraging, always helpful, and yet she has had people take advantage of her and be downright hateful. Some people are fake bubbly, but not this gal. She is the real deal, and my heart hurts to know that others have been unkind to her over the years.

I have always tried to be kind to others. Now, this isn’t to say I haven’t made my fair share of mistakes with people, but kindness has been my goal in life in general. The choices I made as a young girl/teen in school didn’t make me popular, but at least they made me generally well tolerated. If you asked a classmate back then how they would describe me, they would probably have said “nice.” I tended to befriend kids that other people wouldn’t. There were a few times my kindness actually made me a target of others’ ill intentions. Even now, as I have recess duty, I watch for kids who are being picked on or tend to be loners.

Recently,  I learned of a former student of mine who developed an eating disorder when she was in high school. This girl was beautiful, treated others well, and made the choice to be an excellent student and not party like some of her friends. Amidst doing the right things, she was ridiculed, ostracized, and made to feel “less than,” when in fact she was so much more. It is painful to make good choices, and then suffer for them.  We must remember that choosing to be kind is not always an easy choice. It will not always be favored by others.

Matthew 16:26 says, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” We may be able to gain friends, status, wealth, etc., by being unkind. The question is, what do we lose in doing so? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be kind and be able to look myself in the mirror than achieve the things the world deems important and be a jerk.

If you have kids, be sure they understand that kindness can come at a price, but it is a price worth paying. And, kids can be kind while not allowing themselves to be victimized. Even as adults we can find ourselves in situations where we wonder if treating others well is worth it. I wish kindness always reaped kindness in return, but sometimes that just isn’t the case.

“Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” ~ Eric Hoffer

Blessings,

 

Letting Your Light Shine

“Mom, will you help me fill out this question? It says, ‘Describe the qualities you possess that would make you a good ambassador.'”

My youngest was completing an application for school for a role that is in some ways like a student council member. He was the ambassador for his other elementary school in second grade and loved the job. He was taking the process quite seriously.

I gave him a couple of examples of things to list so he knew what was expected. He carefully and painstakingly wrote out his qualities. I walked over and looked over his shoulder. It read, “I am kind, helpful, responsible, trustworthy, and brilliant.” A smile crept over my face.

Initially, I thought about saying, “Hey, buddy. Brilliant might not be the best word in this situation.” But, I stopped myself. Why not? Of course, as his mama, I do think of him as brilliant, yet somehow the word has a bit of a bragging tone to it, right?

“Ahhh!” he exclaimed. “I was supposed to do it in cursive. He began furiously erasing the words, and then proceeded to even more carefully make his list.

Later, after he had already packed it away, I went to take a picture of it (that’s what bloggers do when they think they might have a good blog post in the works). When I looked at the paper this time it said, “I am kind, helpful, responsible, and trustworthy.” Brilliant was sadly out of the picture. Somehow, without me even saying anything, his gut told him it shouldn’t be included.

One of the definitions of brilliant is to be exceptionally clever or talented. Even if we are truly brilliant at something, our culture teaches us not to share that out loud with other people. We might describe our family, friends, or even strangers with that word, but certainly not ourselves.

However, there is another definition of brilliant which is “very bright or radiant.” This is something I think everyone of us should strive for.  In Philippians 2:14-15 we read: “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Additionally, Matthew 5:16 tells us: “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”

If you are reading this and you are a Christian, you are an ambassador. In 2 Corinthians 5:20, it actually says this: “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.”

There has been crazy stuff in the news lately about people claiming to be Christians, yet spreading messages of hate. This is in direct opposition to what we read in scripture. Our light is to shine brilliantly, pointing the way to a Creator God and displaying His glory.

Friends, regardless of your religious beliefs, we all have a light. We can all shine in such a way to spread kindness, inclusion, acceptance, and grace. Who are you not to be brilliant?

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. —Marianne Williamson

Together, we can make a difference.

Blessings,

Time for a Cleaning

The other day my husband looked at my wedding ring and said, “Yuck. I think you need to clean that up.” Looking down, I realized he wasn’t kidding. It’s funny how over time both soap and grime combines to make something look dull and drab.

When we first got married, I pretty regularly put my ring in a cleaning solution. Having a ring like that on my finger was a new and exciting event. Now, admittedly, I do it once in a great while (like maybe once a year). The good news is, no matter how much time has gone by, it still seems to sparkle like new after a good scrubbing.

Our actual marriages can bear a lot of similarities to our wedding rings. In the beginning after our “I do’s” we put a lot of time and effort into our relationship. We are happy, even blissful, under normal circumstances. Life together is new and exciting.

Over time, it becomes much more difficult to put the time and effort into the relationship. Work gets in the way. Kids get in the way. Our health gets in the way. LIFE gets in the way. You get the picture. That once vibrant relationship begins to look a little dreary and soap-caked.

I’m taking my husband away for one night this week for his birthday. The time has come for a little bedazzling. Marriage needs maintenance just like appliances and cars.

If your relationship with your spouse is feeling a little humdrum these days, the good news is that it might not take much to shake off the dust. Here are a few ideas for a bit of renewal:

  1. Work on some kind of project together. I’ve been helping J around the house lately with some things and it has allowed us time to talk and catch up.
  2. Take a class together. He’s still trying to convince me to do yoga with him.
  3. Put the electronics away at night and play a game together, just the two of you. One of my friends on Facebook asked for suggestions for two player card games recently. She received a ton of responses.
  4. Hire a babysitter and go on a date night. We recently did this with another couple (that way you can split the cost of the sitter) and went to a comedy club. It’s good to laugh together.
  5. Drop some notes of encouragement through text or email.

Even the best marriages need a little tuning up sometimes. What works for you and your spouse?

Blessings,

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