Sunday, January 07, 2018
Sunday Afternoon Tea - My Word for 2018
While I have been choosing a Word for the Year so long that I cannot recall when it all began, I must admit that I use the word "choose" loosely. For the Word tends to be chosen in the way the cats I have known and loved were chosen... they actually chose me.
Every year around Thanksgiving, I ask the Lord for a Word... that which will reflect where He wants me to concentrate in the next year. It never ceases to amaze me how He brings it to my attention as it first tends to circle around my thinking before coming in for a landing. Then it seems I hear and see that word everywhere!
That is exactly what happened this year except with a twist, for the first time ever... I did not like the Word. I kept thinking that I could not possibly have heard it correctly but there it was, popping up in my reading and my watching and my listening for weeks upon weeks until there was no more doubt.
My Word for 2018 was... Kindness.
Lest you think I don't want to be kind, it is just this... the Word before has always been a goal which narrowed down my thinking and pondering and writing for the coming year. I didn't understand what Kindness had to do with any of this. I don't think I have a problem being nice to people. Well, most people.
Until that evening when I happened to overhear a round table discussion on PBS. I would never have tuned in to this program on purpose for 1) I am staying away from pretty much all political discussions on media, and 2) I certainly am not interested in hearing a group of twenty something feminists go on and on about the world.
But something one of the very young women said caught my attention. At first I was quite upset for it was absolutely insane thinking. Then the Lord began to speak to me, calming me down and showing me what He meant by my Word... Kindness.
As I think most readers know, especially those who have been with me over ten years (and I thank you!), I am a conservative Midwestern wife, mother, and grandmother. The latter of which never ceases to amaze me for that means a lot of years have passed in a whirl of activity which I can hardly remember. But I digress...
The statement by the young woman was that she finally realized why her Midwestern mother and aunts tended to continue in their (wrong) conservative values... they did not have access to real news. They were being led astray by fake news. She said this with a straight face, quite serious in fact, so I can assume she believed it.
At first I was angry and then I must admit to laughing. Out loud. To the point of a good giggle... which did my heart good. I did what I complain to my husband about doing, I talked back to the television. From my living room sofa, I informed the young woman that, much to her dismay I am certain, we in the Midwest have both cable and satellite television. We even have computers and... gasp... the Internet.
Here is where that Still Small Voice spoke to me about my Word for the Year and what it means. He reminded me that this young woman is only saying what she has been taught as Truth. It is not True but she believes it and I am to look at her not in anger... but through a filter of Kindness.
That is what the new Word is all about, not so much in acting with Kindness (although that is what we are always to do)... but in looking at the World through a filter of Kindness.
When I taught a class on Worldview to homeschool students, I reminded them that the Worldview is our filter on the world. It is how we take what we see and hear and feel and make sense of it all. It is the lens in which we view the world. My worldview is that of a Midwestern woman who is not a fundamentalist Christian (I detest legalism as much as the average non-Christian) but I do believe the Bible is true from Genesis through Maps... and that is not welcome in the 21st Century.
So what God is asking me to do is to filter everything I see and hear and do with kindness. I need to realize that what a person believes is important but so is treating them with value, taking the time to understand why they believe a certain way... and hoping they do the same.
I admit that 21st Century America is pretty much foreign to anything I knew in 20th Century America. This is not the world I grew up in and it is not even the world I raised children in (at least my older child). Although I saw the changes coming all along, I was still surprised... no I'd say shocked... at where we are today.
But I think what God is reminding me in my Word for 2018 is this... we must be careful that we do not win battles but lose the war.
For instance, my husband is a Jeremiah type who sees the world in black and white and has always fought for what he believes is right... whether in Vietnam or in the political process. Through the years I have had to remind him that while we stand with Biblical Truth... we are not to turn away anyone from the Person of Christ with our behavior.
Is it easy? Not at all. The Bible shows us over and over that it is never easy and that few will understand. The early Church was full of stories of the faithful being stoned to death and set on fire and not welcome at the table of modern culture.
However, in the midst of it all the Church grew and went out into the known world with the message of repentance, salvation, and the love of Christ. I believe we are nearing that point today in this season before the return of Christ. The second Advent is nearly upon us and the way the world looks is the way the Bible said it would look before His return.
So I know His message for this Midwestern grandmother is to keep faithful to His Word while looking at others through the lens of His Kindness... for I was once one of the last and the least and the little and the lost... chosen to be asked to a revival service at a church by a classmate because I was the last person she thought would come to Christ.
Sometimes I stop and think of what I would have been like if Jesus had not knocked at the heart of my own soul. If He had not asked to come in and turn this life from one which was going downhill fast to one He could take and mold and shape and give gifts to be used in the Kingdom of God.
When I think of what might have been... I can only agree to what He asks in the coming year and that is to look through a lens of Kindness and listen to others with the same mercy He showed unto me in those teenage years. I came to Him needing a whole lot of refining and I am certain there were times He would have thrown up His hands in disgust if He was not God.
I think most of us, if we were to look at where we have come from, would admit that we are quite thankful for those who looked at us through a filter of Kindness all those years ago.