Because you never know how much time you have left, use it wisely. Be nice to someone and in return expect nothing more than a smile. And if someone is nice to you, return the gesture.
Life is just short enough, dull enough, and hard enough to survive that we can easily forget the reason we were created in the first place. That is to say...to enjoy life. One of the best ways to do that is to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. It could be a new restaurant, a new band or song, a route to work, or a new way to begin your morning routine. I have tried to wake up and simply say thank you to God for the first breath of the day, knowing that all the others are up to me.
The art of greeting strangers begins with approaching the situation from outside your comfort zone. The best part of doing it this way is it allows you to be fearless, adventurous, daring, bold, kind, gentle, or whatever you are typically not. They don't know you. And if they are going to judge you, then they are going to judge you anyway. You have nothing to lose other than a few seconds of your life, and maybe a smile.
If anything, it will give you dull, lackluster day a story worth telling, sharing or simply keeping in your heart. The best part is, God is with you. God is recording it in his divine heart
I feel guilty posting Henri Nouwen again, but to help learn how to embrace strangers with kindness is to always listen to what they have to say:
"Small Steps of Love. How can we choose love when we have experienced so little of it? We choose love by taking small steps of love every time there is an opportunity. A smile, a handshake, a word of encouragement, a phone call, a card, an embrace, a kind greeting, a gesture of support, a moment of attention, a helping hand, a present, a financial contribution, a visit ... all these are little steps toward love.
Each step is like a candle burning in the night. It does not take the darkness away, but it guides us through the darkness. When we look back after many small steps of love, we will discover that we have made a long and beautiful journey."
Why this blog? What purpose or reason can there be to treat people with kindness? Why all this hard work to love strangers if we don't get anything in return? Simply put, why bother?
The answer: "Because?"
John 3:16, the one Bible verse that almost any sports fan has seen says "God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son..." OK, fine. But what did we do to deserve such love? Hate? Kill? Cheat? Lie? Steal? Yes, all of that stuff. Yet in spite of such selfish foolery, it ends with God so loving us that he gave us eternal life. It seems so ridiculous if we really think about it.
This does not suggest God condones such aweful behavior. On the contrary. God hates it so much that he sent his son into the world to show us how to love one another, not hate one another. How uphold one another instead of kill. How to be kind instead of cheat. Or to trust so that you do not have to lie. He taught us to treat one another as we would want to be treated. Why? Because we were created for a greater purpose.
The son taught us to feed the hungry, give water to those who thrist, clothe the poor, help the sick and visit the incarcerated. In return we ourselves are fed, quenched, clothed, and cared for.
But for what purpose? Why do we need to go out of our way for someone else, or to treat human beings with respect and humanity? It is simple...to enjoy life. That's what it comes down to.
Sadly, we have taught ourselves that if we only have more than everyone else, or if we win by any means necessary, or if we hurt someone to keep us from being hurt then that is our ticket to the good life.
But in doing all that, in accumulating all that success and wealth and what not, in such a way will require us to sleep with one eye open. Because we will be the target of someone who desires the same.
And is that how we are to enjoy life?
"God created us because God thought we'd enjoy it." - Leo Rock (quote from Tattoos on the Heart, by Greg Boyle, p.147)
To treat someone with kindness is to say to the world, "I too deserve kindness, love, respect, and joy." A smile you give more often than not receives a smile in return. God loves us. Smiles upon us. In spite of our screwing things up God have us the Son to help right and straighten our path. Why? So that this life, in this world, on this very day, we would simply enjoy it.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”