“Bright before me the signs implore me:
Help the needy and show them the way.
Human kindness is overflowing,
And I think it’s gonna rain today.” – Randy Newman
I love the Bette Midler song “I Think It’s Gonna Rain Today”. It’s not about rain, it’s about sharing human kindness with others because we’ve got so much to be thankful for even if the world around us tries to tell us otherwise. When I first heard it in the movie “Beaches” I thought it was a sad song. But it’s not. It’s a hopeful song. It may talk about the way things are or how some people are “Scarecrows dressed in the latest styles, The frozen smiles to chase love away.” But human kindness IS overflowing when you acknowledge what is amazing about Creation and want to let that rain onto others.
When I was growing up, Gram would remind me always to say “thank you” when someone was kind to me or did anything for me or someone I am with. There was no other qualifier for showing gratitude. And it was NOT an option. We show people that we appreciate what they do for us, period. Or you might get a smack upside the head, which you definitely don’t appreciate…except as serving as a primo reminder not to do that ever again.
Showing traditional appreciation has fallen away like so many other polite “niceties” ie; please, thank you, you’re welcome, after you, take my seat, holding open a door, smiling at someone as you look them in the eye and saying “Hello”. They all show kindness. We used to practice these things because we were taught they have value. And they still do. They show others that they are worthy of kindness. They show that we are not so entitled as to demand kindness from others. They also prove that we want to share kindness with others for kindness sake, whether we know them or not. Whether we paid them to bring the coffee or they offered it without asking. We might not have planned to need the repair, we ARE grateful to have a working dryer again! That means I was grateful when someone with the expertise to make that happen worked me into his busy schedule. Yes, I paid the bill, but I also thanked him for his work.
We expect others to appreciate what we do for them, are disappointed when we don’t feel they do, and yet … are we always as appreciative as we ought to be? I mean “Gram approval” worthy?
We are wired on purpose to want to be treated a certain way but have no power over how others choose to treat us. Our power is limited to how we treat others.
Matthew 7:12, the Golden Rule, is often misquoted as “treat others the way they treat me”. Jesus was teaching how to separate yourself from “the world” not how to blend in. Being kind, especially when someone isn’t kind to you, separates Christ followers from “the world” absolutely!
Case in Point
I overheard a conversation lately that proved to me we are not as kind as we could be. It’s so common you can’t even recognize it anymore. The conversation began with a complaint about how a company used to do things for small towns all over the county but now they only seem to focus on State College. And what a shame it was because the small towns and villages would benefit from their work as well as anyone. I agreed, quietly. We all need the service the business provides. Then the other mentioned how lately the business finally did something special for their little town and he made sure to get a hold of the the new manager right away to say … how much he appreciated it? … what it means to be included in their important work? … an encouraging word of support that he’d love to see more of this? Nope. He made sure to tell the new manager “it’s about bleepin’ time you get around to including us in your stupid business!”
There’s nothing so defeating as starting a job, seeing that there is a gap in service and creating new priorities that correct the issue only to have it fly back into their face from a stranger on the telephone who chose to take the time to shine light on the previous insult rather than appreciation for the needed and achieved correction. What more did they want? You say you want this change, the change happens and you complain? I don’t get it.
How did we get here? Did they take a cue from our ridiculous media and view a positive thing an insult because it wasn’t done sooner, wasn’t done by the person they thought ought to have done it, or wasn’t done they WAY they think it should be done – not that they’re always qualified to make that determination, but still.
A wise man once said “There’s no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.” And we are called to do things not for credit but for the good of others. Still, you may limit the good that could be accomplished when hostility is offered where Jesus would expect appreciation.
I remembered thinking, “would it have killed you to say thank you?”
And so I left with a renewed sense to pay attention if I am ever tempted to respond to something that is a positive with a negative, and ask myself why? Where does this come from? Not Jesus.
We keep waiting for the world to change. To fix anything we must change. How many people are seeing small, positive changes in their own little sphere and don’t think to encourage it to grow? Kindness and appreciation grows when it’s spread around like seedlings.
Next time you’re tempted to gripe when you know that your Gram would be telling you to appreciate, just say “thank you”.
I thank you in advance. I appreciate you for your renewed ministry of kindness. And I pray that when your kindness flies back at you, you won’t let it stop you from showing others that human kindness is overflowing.
I think it ought to “reign” today.
With hands to the plow,