Kindness. I must have been four or five years old when it happened. It happens to most kids at one time or another. I stepped on a piece of glass. I remember crying, probably more like screaming, when my father attempted to get it out of my foot.
“No, no, Dad! Don’t touch it!” I remember screaming.
“Lynne, sit still! I have to get it out!” my frustrated father replied.
“No! Not! You! I want Nana to do it!” At some point he must have resigned himself to the fact that if the glass were coming out of my foot, his mother was going to have to be the one to remove it, because my next memory was my Nana working on removing that piece of glass.
So you may be wondering what special skills my grandmother had – was she a surgeon? No. General practioner, then? No. Okay, how about a nurse? No. Any kind of first aid training at all that would make her qualified to remove offending glass from tiny, delicate foot? Not particularly.
But my Nana was trustworthy and kind. I knew that if it did hurt, then there was no other way to get it done. And she did get it done. I am pretty sure I cried, and she consoled, and it was all better regardless of whether it hurt because it was Nana.
I was reminded of my grandmother’s kindness as I worked on a talk I will be giving for a mother/daughter luncheon. If there were unkindness in her, it just didn’t show. At least that’s how it was in all the years I knew her. My father, well, he says my grandmother isn’t the same woman who raised him and he has muttered things about brooms and beatings – but if there is any truth at all to that, I would guess then he probably really, really deserved it.
I never saw her be unkind to anyone – even when people hurt her or the ones she loved. And more amazing, I never heard her say anything unkind to or about anyone. Oh, how I wish I could say that about myself! How I wish there were a kindness gene that got passed down, woven into my DNA, that would make me inherently kind; but, sadly for me, most times I have to work at being kind.
I wish my Nana were still alive, now that I have lived enough years to fully appreciate the depth and impact of her example, because I would love to ask her how she did it. When my grandmother died, she didn’t have a lot of stuff to leave her grandkids. No big bank accounts, or precious heirlooms. No fancy degrees or list of accomplishments. In fact, if I were to write her obituary today, I think I would say something like this:
Nana Rose is survived by many who loved her and she will be dearly missed. She was a loving woman, a great cook and she could be trusted to be kind.
I want to be trusted to be kind, don’t you? Now that’s a legacy.
A kindhearted woman gains honor, but ruthless men gain only wealth. Proverbs 11:16
Hope. I sat at the table next to my son, turned on my laptop and scanned my inbox. An urgent prayer request from Pastor Rick. I opened the email. Each word I read seemed to suck another breath from my lungs. It was tragic news. Our pastor’s son had taken his own life. My chest tightened as I imagined Pastor Rick and Kay, hearts broken to the core, trying to process the loss of their child. It was more than my imagination could take and I closed my eyes tight.
When you listen to a pastor, week after week, for over ten years, you begin to feel like you know him personally; though, the closest I’ve physically gotten to Rick was the one time he strolled through the church, patted my shoulder and warmly greeted me. And Kay I have only seen while she spoke from the stage. But to see them, to hear them speak, to read their books, well, you know these are two souls with tender hearts. Mom and Dad hearts. Human hearts. Crushed hearts.
You could be the pastor of one of the biggest churches in America, have faith that can move a mountain, and trust in the Lord with all your heart, but let’s be real, this has to hurt like hell. Maybe I’m not supposed to say that as a Christian, but the reality is, Christ followers are far from being immune to pain here on earth and hell hurts.
“What do people do who don’t know the Lord?” I asked, as much to myself as to my son sitting next to me. We both just looked at each other, still in shock and sadness. But my question has resonated with me since.
There is tragedy in the world every second of every day. You only have to log onto the world wide web to know that the tears shed from broken hearts creates a perpetual wave of sorrow. So when tragedy strikes, where does our hope come from?
Some people find hope and comfort in other people; but we are a very unpredictable species. Sometimes we can be loving and kind, comforting to those who hurt, and sometimes we can be preoccupied and busy at best, even cruel and callous at worst. Some people find hope and comfort in achievement and experiences, a means of distraction from the pain; but how long can you keep a body in motion? Every body needs some down time, and then what do you do? Some people find hope and comfort in things, in the process of acquiring things; but things get old, they break, they rust, they tarnish. Some people find comfort, though maybe not hope, in alcohol and drugs; but I know first-hand the consequences for this kind of grief therapy is unhealthy and the cost is too high.
It’s a broken world and a broken world can’t offer the kind of hope and comfort a grieving soul needs. Our Creator, God, knows this. And He knows the pain and grief associated with losing a precious son. His heart breaks with every heart that breaks, and He sees each tear that falls. He longs for us to call out to Him so He can wrap His heavenly arms around us.
And He knows how much hell hurts ~ and it is His greatest desire to keep us out of it. In fact, it is His fervent desire to have each one of His precious creation with Him in heaven one day. Heaven ~ paradise, a place free from pain and suffering, free from inhumanity and tragedy and most importantly, a place filled with the glory of God. Filled with His glory because that’s where He is ~ waiting to welcome His children, like Matthew, with loving arms. This, my friends, is where my hope comes from ~ a loving God, a redeemer, a place in heaven. And I know from years of listening to Pastor Rick that this is where he and his family have their hope . I also know their hope would be for you to know Jesus the way they do ~ if you don’t, would you consider getting to know Him now?