“A mild answer turns back wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The tongue of the wise pours out knowledge, but the mouth of fools spews folly. The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. A soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse one breaks the spirit.” Proverbs 15:1-4
When I watch or read the news I tend to get discouraged about the state of the world. From murder, to robbery, to domestic violence etc. It all seems so overwhelming and depressing. It seems the worst of mankind is everywhere. But as I have said many times before, the only person I can control is myself and my reaction. How can I make my world, here, in this southern town, be a better world?
I read another blogger at Everyday Grace a little while back who told an amazing story you may have already read. She was screamed and cursed at by another woman at a Starbucks. Instead of screaming back, she looked through the eyes of love, and bought the woman coffee. That changed everything, for both women. By that small act of kindness, the anger was stopped in its tracks.
I took a look around me, at all the other people close to me, neighbors, the people in traffic, at the general hustle and bustle of life. Everybody is suffering something. Everybody gets frustrated and angry. Is there anything, anything at all, that I can do to make someone else’s life a little easier? A little less frustrating?
Keeping this thought in mind, I also had to realize where I am in my life. I am a wife and a mother of 3 growing children. I have a dog (I had two dogs, one just recently died in my arms), a lizard, two part-time jobs, and I am a regular taxi shuttle for all things kid. If I over extended myself, I know I would become the frustrated, angry, yelling person, and that would not be good for anyone. As much as I want to save the whole world in one fell swoop, God has let me know that is His job, and I have but a small part in doing His will right where I am right now.
I thought about my dad. My dad is awesome. My dad often thinks of others, and I noticed him doing some little things in his sleepy retirement beach community when I would go visit. On trash day my 75 year old dad would go and put all the neighbors trashcans back in their yard after the trash was picked up. He would tell me, “well, Mrs. So and So has bad knees, she shouldn’t have to drag that thing back up there.” He compliments people all the time with a positive word. After witnessing the simple act of moving a trashcan, I thought, I can do that! So, as I said, I began to look around me. I have neighbors all around, we all speak and say "hi" to one another, but how was I as a neighbor? I started to notice some things like, some people who work multiple jobs have a hard time getting their lawn mowed in the summer. I decided, if I was already mowing my lawn, it wouldn’t take much to pop over and mow theirs too. I recognized too, that I cook dinner for my own family every night, so when I began to get emails that others needed help with dinner, I thought I can just double it. These are the things that are within my means to spread love and kindness.
I don’t know if mowing a lawn or making a dinner does anything to help another’s mood, but I know these are the simple things God asked me to do. Sometimes, I am not able to do even those things, but I am always able to pray for someone else. I am always encouraged when someone says they are praying for me, and so that is one thing I always try to do for others. I believe in the power of prayer. Chances are if you have asked me, I have written your name in my journal and asked God to bless you. Even if you haven’t asked, I may be praying for you too.
I don’t tell you these things to be like, “oh, look at me, I’m great, I help people.” In fact, I can still very much be known to get frustrated and complain. I tell you these things because I have struggled with being depressed about the world, and with feeling out of control about how to live in a world where evil sits on the front page of every newspaper. God put it on my heart to stop the frustration, anger and depression with me. To pay forward kindness and love. He put it there because of my friend Veronica. Depression makes us look inward at ourselves and our woes, God asked me to look up and outward toward others. He asked me to be His servant, and I am trying my very best to listen, though I still struggle sometimes.
I have in the past been known to yell back at others who yell at me, to want to seek revenge of some sort, or wish something bad upon someone who hurt me. I am trying and transforming with God’s help to no longer be that person. I want to look through the eyes of love and empathy. So next time someone is yelling at you, or that homeless person asks you for money, stop, think about what you want to put forward into the world. Look through the eyes of love, and don’t let someone else’s anger or frustration turn into yours.