I’m Done Being Nice

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
― Henry James

I’ve always been a nice person. By always, of course, I mean overall, not every single moment. But generally speaking, I think even people who don’t like me much probably would describe me as nice. There are many fine behaviors that I lack, but nice I can do.

And therein lies the problem. Nice I can do and have done and in-spite of all my niceness, I’ve remained fundamentally unchanged at my core.

I gradually became aware of the cracks that can’t be papered-over with niceness. My feelings could be easily hurt. I was quick to take offense. But the real tell was that I was critical of other people’s choices when they differed from my own in everything from parenting to politics. I made  character and motive assessments (i.e. He/She is so: raciest, arrogant, judgmental, moody, harsh, deceitful, critical, greedy, selfish, needy, negative etc… )

Get the irony, here? How arrogantly critical and judgmental of me to feel so free to evaluate others. While I kept those thoughts largely to myself, there they were, fermenting and staining my heart.

I’m done being nice. Instead, I want to be kind.

Niceness is a presentation. Kindness is a condition. I want a heart conditioned by grace to be kind. I can be nice in action without being kind-hearted. I can act warm when my thoughts are cold. Kindness requires a depth plumbed by God and infused with His grace.

Nice is pleasant, polite, agreeable, satisfactory. Niceness is about what I do.

Kind is having a sympathetic or helpful nature; having a forbearing (patient) nature; affectionate; loving; gentle. Kindness is about what I am, about what I hope to become.

Being nice wins favor, but being nice is transitory. Niceness easily evaporates in the light of unmet expectations. But out of a kind heart comes compassion and forgiveness and the generous act of thinking of others.

Kindness is spiritual practice. It’s a deep current that runs beneath the surface, supplying the grace to respond to both adversity and adversary with a gentleness that doesn’t come naturally. Grace is required and that grace is abundantly supplied to all Seekers.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Travelers

The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.  ~ G.K. Chesterton

I’ve love the concept of being a traveler.

I used to sing This World Is Not My Home with my Dad. And for him, the angels beckoned several years ago.

This world is not my home,
I’m just a passing through,
My treasures are laid up
somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me
from heaven’s open door,
And I can’t feel at home
in this world anymore.

My Savior pardoned me
from guilt and shame I know,
I’ll trust His saving grace
while trav’ling here below;
I know He’ll welcome me
at heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home
in this world anymore.

While I live here, in this temporary tent, I hope to live as a traveler, not a tourist. I pray to learn to see what I see and not just what I expect to see.

I’m going to take a bit of a break for a few weeks. While I’m gone, keep your eyes open and I’ll try to do the same and when I come back, let’s share what all we’ve seen!

Love and grace to you all,

If God Had a Refrigerator

If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If He had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning…   Face it, friend. He is crazy about you!  ~ Max Lucado

Isn’t that a wonderful thought? The One from whom nothing is hidden, Who sees the parts of me I even hide from myself, is crazy about me! He’s crazy about you, too! Such amazing grace!

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot.

Maybe we should all write a note in bright bold letters and tape it to the frig or the bathroom mirror:

I’m crazy about you!  Love, God

What if we were reminded of this over and over each day? I wonder, would it make a difference?

Want to give it a try with me?

A Sunday Song – If Ever I Loved Thee

My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign.
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.                                    ~ William Featherston

This beautiful hymn was written by 16 year old William Featherston.

When I was 16, I knew who I was and where I was going. My vision was clear and life seemed fairly simple. I loved Him because He loved me first.

I love Thee because Thou has first loved me,
And purchased my pardon on Calvary’s tree.
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

It’s been almost 40 years since I was 16. I haven’t always known where I was going. My vision has blurred. But, always, He’s loved me.

I’ll love Thee in life, I will love Thee in death,
And praise Thee as long as Thou lendest me breath;
And say when the death dew lies cold on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now.

I’m not where I thought I’d be. I’m not who I thought I’d be. I’m blessed beyond measure. He loved me first and loves me always. If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus ’tis now.

Ashes to Go

People who come to church already get the forgiveness thing, but we go to the people at the train station going into a full day, to all the places where we fail and realize we are not perfect. Now they can start the day with a reminder that that is not the last word. ~ Rev Emily Mellott, author Ashes to Go

Today is Ash Wednesday, the day that launches the liturgical season of Lent, the 40 days of prayer and repentance before Easter Sunday.

In spite of my wildly eclectic church background, my only church experience with Lent and ashes was during my 3 years in Oregon at the tiny Episcopal church. Somehow, somewhere, I’d gotten the idea that observing Lent was a cross between old school superstitions and New Years Resolutions. To the dear saints at St Matthews, it was something else altogether.

For 3 years, I spent one Wednesday in February with ashes on my forehead. Something radical has been happening all over the county since 2007. From bus stops to subway stations, from McDonald’s to Starbucks, you can find pastors and priest quietly talking to cabbies and consultants, to the weary and the seekers, giving Ashes to Go. The Church is bringing the church to the people.

For some, Lent is a time of prayer and fasting. For others, it’s a time to reconnect with God through revived resolutions. If you’re giving up something up for Lent, may God bless you with an increased sense of Him in whatever you choose to forgo.

For all of us, this could be the time we ask: What are we giving for Lent this year? Possibly more kindness, more compassion, more patience, more love, more hope, more grace? To all the places where we fail and realize we are not perfect, we can start the day with a reminder that that is not the last word.

A Sunday Song – Let Me Rediscover You

You see my weakness, my pride, my blindness
You wield your power through them all
Of all the mysteries, still, the greatest to me
Is that you’re faithful when I fall

How can I say I know you
When what I know is still so small?
Let me rediscover you and breathe in me your life anew
Tell me of the God I never knew
Oh, let me rediscover you

Let me rediscover you
And by your grace I’ll follow through
Reveal to me the God I thought I knew

Let me rediscover you

This is a song that calls to my heart. I love the simple combination of a song called Let Me Rediscover You by a band called Downhere (rediscover Him Downhere now, not later Upthere). The portion I chose for the quotation is, to me, the distillation of grace.

I love the word rediscover. I discovered the God who loves me a very long time ago. Rediscovering means to discover (something) again.  When what I know is still so small, Lord, let me rediscover You.

Today is moving day. It will be interesting to see where your prayers have sent me! 😉 Thank you for sharing in these moments of grace with me. Thank you for keeping this a place of encouragement through your wise and tender comments. You make writing TMG a joy.

I may be right back tomorrow, if there’s internet in the land where we land. If not, to those of you who so faithfully read and share your thoughts here, know that you’ll continue to be in mine. And also in my prayers.

A Sunday Song ~ ‘Tis So Sweet

‘Tis So Sweet To Trust in Jesus                                       Louisa Stead (1882)

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know “Thus saith the Lord”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!

O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
Just in simple faith to plunge me
Neath the healing, cleansing flood!

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Him,
Precious Jesus, saviour, friend;
And I know that He is with me,
Will be with me to the end.

Louisa Stead felt called to be a missionary when she was a teenager. Her passion to share the Good News grew as she grew. She was all set to go to China when her health became too fragile for the trip.

She was heartbroken. She met and married a kind and loving man. One beautiful afternoon on the coast of Long Island, they were picnicking with their 4-year-old daughter, Lily, when Louisa’s husband looked up to see someone thrashing about in the water. He dashed into the ocean to save the life of another. The child was saved but he drowned.

In the midst of great sorrow, Louisa set out with Lily for the mission field, this time to South Africa. It was in there that she wrote:‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.

Because someone was drowning, her husband gave his life. Because we’re all drowning, Jesus gave His.

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er! God proved His love. But how do we prove Him?

Trust.

I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee, Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend; And I know that Thou art with me, Wilt be with me to the end.

Louisa Stead knew this because she found trusting Jesus to be sweet even when life was bitter.

Oh for grace to trust Him more.

My internet is popping on and off. I’ve been trying to find a window of ‘connectivity’ for hours. Hopefully, this Sunday Song will show up sometime Monday or Tuesday!

Thank you, kind friends for your words of love and prayers. I’m weak of signal, but not weak of heart. This old hymn has been refurbishing me for days. Life and rest and joy and peace. 😀

I’ll catchup with you whenever the airwaves allow.