Thursday, April 14, 2016

Lovely people and tender moments and soft-spoken words

Today let’s reflect on life’s everyday joys and subtle beauties. They can teach us important lessons.

Grace-filled, winsome people can tutor us and introduce us to life’s most valuable discoveries. They can be the best kind of role models for us.

If you missed last Thursday’s post, we looked at the way devastating situations can bring us to our knees and leave us broken, helpless—but that from within that place of crisis, we can learn: During our most painful times we can learn our most important lessons.

But let’s not overlook life’s happinesses.

Our problem is this:

The gentle things of life
don’t catch our attention
the way tragedies do.
Too often we overlook the deeper treasures
within lovely people and tender moments
and soft-spoken words.

Who showed you what it’s like to live with these (consider them one at a time): love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22)?

Who demonstrated serving one another in love, loving your neighbor as yourself? (Galatians 5:13-14)

Who displayed what real love is (again, consider the following attributes one at a time):

Love is patient, love is kind.
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, NIV).

Who demonstrated what commitment is—for better, for worse, in sickness and in health?

Who was like a Mr. Rogers in your life? Or a Matthew Cuthbert in the Anne of Green Gables books? Or Father Tim from Jan Karon’s novels? Safe, kind, considerate souls. Jan Karon writes, “There is deep, resonant, lovely, tender beauty in the ordinary life…. the person on the street; the woman at home; the one working in a flower bed or trying to raise her grandchildren.” Who were those people in your life and what did they teach you? What spiritual wisdom did they demonstrate?

Who were the quiet, dependable, heart-of-gold people God brought into your life? Maybe a classmate, or a grandparent, or a neighbor, or a boss. Perhaps a store clerk, or a professor, or a nurse, or a janitor.

Amy Carmichael wrote of the time Jesus ignored derailing comments made by a group of men (Mark 5:36). Rather than confronting them, he just kept about his business. Amy writes, “He heard, but He took no notice…. How often one…finds peace upset by something that someone has said. ‘Not heeding the word spoken,’ to be deaf to it, to go on as if one had not heard it—this is something not all of us find easy. May the Lord give us this holy deafness…” (Edges of His Ways; emphasis mine). Who modeled that attitude and conduct for you?

What people and stories come to mind when you read the following verses?

A gentle answer turns away wrath….
The tongue of the wise commends knowledge….
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life….
The lips of the wise spread knowledge….
A patient man calms a quarrel….
A man finds joy in giving an apt reply....
A cheerful look brings joy to the heart,
            and good news gives health to the bones (Proverbs 15:1-30). 

She is clothed with strength and dignity….She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue (Proverbs 31:25-26). How good is a timely word (Proverbs 15:23). For a moving essay on the reality of these two passages, check out Stacy Sanchez’s post, “It’s not over until….” (Stacy’s young husband died suddenly a few weeks ago.)

Your job, as a memoirist, 
is to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.

So, set aside time
to search through your memories
and discover quiet, subtle blessings
from everyday people and events.
You might be surprised to find
extraordinary in your quiet ordinary—
and that some of your most important lessons
and values and beliefs
came from those people and events.
Surely each was a gift from God
His fingerprints are all over them.

Write your stories.
Pass on the inspiration you’ve received from others.

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