Amy Lanham

finding beauty in the middle of the mess

Tag: kindness (page 1 of 3)

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,

 

What Do We Tell the Children?

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Yesterday, my 9-year-old voted at school. He had been eagerly looking forward to the moment.  We don’t talk a vast amount about politics in our house, but both of my boys would keenly listen when the topic would come up, or when they would hear things on the TV, radio, or other media. I have enjoyed watching their young minds churn and try to make sense of the world around them.

After Austin had settled in for the afternoon, I asked him who he voted for. “I wrote in Bernie,” he proclaimed with a smile.

I pressed him for his reasoning. “He cares about people,” was his reply.

Right or wrong, this was his perception. I’m happy to know that, for him, this was a deciding factor, regardless of my own personal political beliefs.

My Austin is not a Trump fan. In fact, he has a strong dislike for him. He has used the word bully more than once to describe him. My oldest isn’t a fan, either, so it was a bit painful this morning to share the election results with them. They were both disappointed.

As Austin ate breakfast, I asked him why he thought Trump won. To my dismay he replied, “Because people are butt-faces!” (Insert dismayed look on my face here, both for the term and the sentiment). Sorry, friends! Clearly, I have some work to do. Teaching opportunity here, folks!

For many, this election came down to a vote of conscience. Who could we choose and still be able to look at the reflection in the mirror and not cringe?

Many people fear Trump’s presidency due to the feelings of hate, disrespect, and intolerance they feel he stands for. These are legitimate concerns given the nature of the campaign. As a kid, I saw the office of president as something sacred. My boys don’t have that opinion. That’s hard to witness as a parent. Here are some things I want my children to understand, though:

  1. The ability to vote is a privilege we must not take for granted, even when we don’t like our choices.
  2. We all have a voice. Use it. Shout with it, if necessary, but always do so with kindness and respect.
  3. Sometimes people feel they need to vote for a candidate they don’t like, because there is a cause they care greatly about. We don’t know what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. The cause might be healthcare, the rights of the unborn, the rights of those who feel their voice isn’t heard, etc. We all care about different issues.
  4. We can disagree and still like each other and treat each other gently.
  5. Live out your convictions (those things you feel strongly about). Let your life be an example for the issues you hold dear.
  6. Our system is made up of checks and balances (however imperfect it may be).  Don’t fear just one person in our political system.
  7. Our religious beliefs play into our political choices, and those beliefs are very personal and different, even in the same religion. For our family, I want my boys to know that a single person in political power will never be the savior we need. We have already been saved from what we truly have to worry about. That may look different for your family.

Who knows what the next four years will bring, but no doubt they will present many opportunities to teach our children valuable lessons. Are you prepared?

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Rekindling the Light

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His nose has a hole in it. Most of the “fur” has been rubbed off of his tail. A good portion of his stuffing has come and gone. His once white coat has evolved into a dingy gray.

I read the following passage the other day from the Velveteen Rabbit, and while I thought of my son Austin’s dear Yoggie, it spurred many other thoughts for me.

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’

‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.

‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

If ever there was a candidate for becoming real, Austin’s Yoggie would top the list.

Stuffed animals are truly that way…the more well-loved, the worse they look. As I thought about it, though, people aren’t much like that. This passage is often used to talk about aging and how with a full life we become more flabby, wrinkled, broken, and such. Yet, I think the more well-loved we are, the more vibrant we are.

Think about someone you know who has lived a hard life. Or even reflect on your own life and a time you went through where you may have felt lonely, abused, or unloved. There is so much you can tell from a person’s eyes, appearance, and demeanor. I can remember a time in my life when I felt like an empty shell of a person. It can take just one individual to extinguish your fire.

Not long ago I met a woman who had experienced severe abuse for years at the hands of her father. She had just set out on the path to healing. Her eyes haunted me afterwards. A vacancy existed. You could tell she was reluctant for human interaction. Her light had been snuffed out, stolen from her.

The good news is light can be rekindled. The loss doesn’t have to be permanent. One of the joys from working in women’s ministry for the last 10 years is that I get to witness many success stories. I have seen women enter our midst with their light dwindling. It only takes the love of a few compassionate people to change someone’s life.  Few things are more thrilling to me than watching that light shine brighter. Even just one caring man or woman can make an enormous difference.

With eyes sparkling, one woman recently sat with me sharing her life story. She said our group of moms had changed her life. Joy bubbled from her. Her road has been hard, and I mean hard,  but she knows she has people in her corner now.

I think I understand a little better now why Moses face shone like the sun after being in God’s presence. People may not “glow” like Moses did, but there is no denying that when we share God’s love with others there can be a visible transformation that happens. And not just in them, but in us, too.

Friends, it can just take a hug, a kind word, some of your time to listen, a note of encouragement, to change the trajectory of a person’s life. Then just stand back and watch them walk a little straighter and shine a little brighter. Whose life can you touch for the better today?

Blessings,

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