Friday, February 1, 2013

It's the Little Things

As our children were getting ready for school this morning, I offered to help.  "Got it, Mom."  Looking more closely I asked, "Would you like me to wash your glasses?"
"That'd be great!"
In that moment I was reminded that loving others, serving and ministering to their needs is not the big, never-fear-mom-is-here, heroic moment.  It's the watching, the seeing, the willingness to address the little things that lighten another's load.  It's saying in my heart and by my actions, what's important to you is important to me.  And for me, lately, it means being gentle--knowing another's weakness and protecting instead of damaging.
I have been helping Joy, my friend from the Congo, learn English.*  This fall we started the Bible study, Developing Genuine Friendships Helping her translate the Scripture and questions has been enlightening--for me.  Our daughter, Laura, said, "It's like being a thesaurus, Mom, you just have to use a lot of synonyms."
Last week we studied Philippians 4:7, "Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near." The English word gentle was new to her.  "When our second child was born, our oldest was Caroline's age," I said, gesturing at her 2-year-old.  "We told him over and over to be gentle with the baby--to be careful, soft."  Yes, she understood.  "Or, if you carry an egg home from the market in your hand, you're gentle because it's easily broken.  That's what we should be like with others.  Our gentleness should be evident; something they can see, something that's shown."  And with each description, my mind said, "ouch!" thinking of the many times I had not been gentle. This was a hidden area I struggled with but couldn't put my finger on. God was using this time with Joy and His Word as a tender reminder.
"The next part says, 'The Lord is near.'  Maybe because God is near--like me with our new baby.  He is watching, like a Father, and we are to be careful with those he loves. Or it could mean our gentleness is seen because God is nearby, helping us be gentle."
For the next question in the study, "application," we shared personal examples and were encouraged that God is changing us.
In the week since we studied that verse, I have recalled her beautiful lilting voice recite Philippians 4:7 and I have been blessed.  I have examined the speed and abruptness with which I go about my day.  It's fine when I'm alone, but as soon as someone else is involved, I need to slow down--to be aware of their interests and limits and adjust my tone, focus and process accordingly. 
How good God is to use the little things to teach us--and to allow us to love others through the little things of life!

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.
*Shared with permission.

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