Coming home late during the summer months requires extra care. Walking from our car to the house when dark, (descending the forty six steps) you encounter numerous slugs, snails and by early morning the evidence of foxes. We carefully work our footing to avoid squashing one of God’s little creatures or placing our feet in something that will leave us with a nasty, smelly, mess on our shoe! The occasion crunch underfoot and you realise, that a snail, if lucky, has become homeless, if unlucky is no more.
If only we could avoid crushing others like we try to avoid the snails on our pathway. Yesterday I was speaking to a hardworking lady, who said to me that she was feeling low because no one had time to ask her how she was, they just, commented, in the main, negatively about the work she was doing. We had a short conversation about people and manners but it got me thinking again by the time I was walking down the steps to my house.
She wasn’t looking for much to change her feelings, just a kind word and a little appreciation for all the good work (voluntary, I would like to add) rather than being viewed so negatively. Taking a little time to stop and think before opening our mouths would help, looking at what lies ahead to avoid crushing someone’s feelings or causing destructive, hurtful, unnecessary criticism.
I have seen myself do this on numerous occasions, putting my foot in it then feeling that I made a mess of what I had said because I was too hasty to judge and didn’t take enough care of the other person. There will be times when we feel we need to express something negative but we need to take care not to crush the person’s character in the process.
A simple way of doing this is to adopt the ‘three stars and a wish’ approach. For example if you know there is something, perhaps more challenging you need to say, find three good and encouraging things first to build them up, then, when you can, move on to the more tricky comment. You won’t knock them down so far, or leave them feeling so crushed and worthless or even better just ask them if they had thought about…whatever it is you need to say. Be open to hearing their view, you may find yourself surprised by their way of thinking and that they weren’t wrong but just different from yourself!
I spotted this quote today ‘Kindness is a language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.’ Mark Twain.
Kindness is a Fruit of the Spirit of God and as Christians we are known by the fruit we display in our lives. Think about your words today, are they kind and thoughtful or will they crush and hurt others?
43 “For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit,
44 for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush.
45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.