“Have Courage And Be Kind”

Originally posted on The Faith Friends.

FF 3-30-2016

On Easter Sunday, I led Sunday School music time for the children in my church congregation. As we sang songs about Jesus Christ, I asked the children, “What can we do to show Jesus Christ we love Him?” One sweet 4-year-old girl, quoting the most recent Cinderella movie, answered, “Have courage and be kind.”

Have Courage

Recent world events have broken my heart and diminished my courage. When I hear of terrorist attacks like the recent attack in Belgium, my heart fills with fear. I fear what could happen on the trains I take in and out of Washington D.C. each day; I fear how increasingly more dangerous the world will be for my children; I fear for the safety of my husband as he frequently travels for work. However, I know that God doesn’t want me to fear. He wants me to have faith, which leads to courage.

I need to have faith that no matter what happens in this life, God has a plan. His plan enables me to return and live with Him again and with my family forever. Central to His plan is the ability for people to use their agency here on this earth. This means that bad things can happen as people use their agency for evil and wrong purposes.

God is a loving God, and He will be with us when bad things happen to us and around us. Believing that God will help me and my family through good times and bad times helps me to have courage. Believing that there is life after death and that families are forever helps me to have courage. Having courage and trusting God shows God we love Him.

Be Kind

For many years, I have felt that the number one attribute I want to teach my children is kindness. Kindness is more than simply being nice. Kindness is loving others with our whole hearts and acting accordingly. Kindness can be hard. It is hard to love others who degrade us or who are rude to us. Yet, God wants us to be kind to all people, regardless of how they treat us.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ said:

“And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain,” (Matthew 5:40-41).

When we realize that all we have is from God – our coat, our cloke, the ability to walk, etc. – we will be inclined to give more and be kind. I don’t think this scripture is God’s way of encouraging us to allow people to take advantage of us. I think He’s encouraging us to realize all we have is from Him.

Mean-spiritedness is pervasive in our society. Don’t believe me? Turn on any news channel covering the U.S. presidential election. This election cycle seems to promote the opposite of kindness. However, I have learned that kindness always wins. What makes a true winner isn’t the outcome of an election or an argument, but a true winner is someone who has the inner peace that only kindness can bring.

At the times in my life when I have focused on developing greater kindness, I have felt transformed on the inside. I have felt a peace and a love that I can’t fully describe. God wants us to be kind. He wants us to feel like true winners and have the penetrating peace only pure kindness can bring.

Cinderella’s mother and the sweet 4-year-old girl at church on Sunday were right. We need to “have courage and be kind.” That is exactly what we can do to show Jesus Christ, our Savior, Redeemer, and Healer, that we love Him.

The Faith Friends Blog

Every other Wednesday, I post on a blog called The Faith Friends. The blog was started by my dear friend Sara Picard. My favorite part of being a bi-weekly contributor is it forces me to stop and reflect on experiences that have strengthened my faith in the prior two weeks. I want start including the posts I write on The Faith Friends here on this blog. You can go back here and see all the posts I’ve written.

Below is my most recent post from February 4, 2016:

God is in the Details We Do Not See 

 meme-monson-details-1256678-printI brought my laptop on the metro yesterday morning to write this post. Before opening my laptop, I decided to read through my husband’s scripture notes which he’ll often text me when he reads through the scriptures in the morning. I want to share a portion of what he wrote yesterday in response to reading Luke 19:41-42, which says, “And when he (referring to Jesus Christ) was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it. Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes.”

Here is my husband’s response:

“I am not sure what this scripture means or is referring too, however, I do have a thought about it. I think Christ is saying if we knew the amount of things that had to go right so that we could have peace in our lives, we would be incredibly grateful. However, then Christ makes the statement that these blessings are hid from our eyes. What a sad state of existence that is. Our test is to know that Christ and angels are working behind the scenes for our benefit, and yet we are blind to it. All things do work for our good, even when we do not see them. Having faith in Christ so that we can better understand and see His hand in our lives should ever be within our prayers.”

What a powerful perspective. Perhaps we are blind to many of the ways the Lord is working for good in our lives. And perhaps that is a part of the trial of our faith here on this earth while we are separated from God’s presence.

I believe pondering this possible interpretation of the scripture can elevate our perspective and gratitude for God. If we do, I think we’ll feel less forgotten by God and more grateful for the blessings we do have when things don’t go as we hoped.

One of my favorite songs is “Make Me Whole” from the “Lamb of God” by Rob Gardner. The lyrics of the song are written from the vantage point of a believer in Christ who doesn’t understand all things and wants an increase of faith and to be made whole through Christ. One line of the song in particular always stands out to me.  It states, “Oh touch my heart and bid it know that every breath I take is by Thy tender grace.”

I remember hearing these words about a year ago and feeling such gratitude for the ability to breath, an ability I nearly always take for granted. I love her plea to have her heart touched to remember God’s tender goodness.

I too don’t understand all things, but I believe that we can find peace and joy by believing that God is always working for good in our lives; in ways we cannot see, and in more ways than we can number.

Today marks 170 years since the Mormon pioneers began their exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois to Utah. I believe it was their faith that God was working behind the scenes in their lives to bring them peace that allowed them to cross the rocky mountain, face sickness, death, and despair without giving up their resolve to follow Christ. Just like the pioneers of old, we will have our own metaphorical rocky mountains to traverse in life. Likewise it will be our faith that God works behind the scenes in our lives that will allow us to persevere and stand strong in our resolve to follow Jesus Christ.