Notes from Jan

Kindness is a Good Starting Place

February 17, 2024

The first Bible verse I learned in Sunday School was, “Be ye kind one to another…” It took a few more years to learn there was more to the verse, “…tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32, KJV) But kindness is a good starting place.

As I watch the news, read newspapers and overhear conversations, I’m aware we’re running low on kindness. We need more kind words and gestures in our families, churches, business dealings, with colleagues, neighbors, and for sure in politics.

This morning I read Psalm 23 out of William and Randy Petersen’s devotional, The One Year Book of Psalms. This familiar Psalm is rich in imagery of the Good Shepherd’s kindness. He leads, protects, comforts, feeds, welcomes and anoints with oil. Who? Lost, balky, frightened, thirsty and hungry sheep, like you and me.

But my notes at the bottom of the page brought back another face to the flock. “February 17, 2022. We zoomed together as a family to remember Dan. We did our best.” For too many years, my brother Dan, was estranged from our family. Over the years, we did our best to maintain that flimsy bridge. Forgiveness, kindness and keeping tenderhearted helped.

Finally, a day came when we met on that bridge named Grace. And so the last years, before Dan died, we experienced God’s restoration work. We experienced what our parents prayed for but only saw from afar on heaven’s porch.

Kindness is like oil. It helps lubricate rusty supports, which unchecked, can make bridges collapse. And oils rusty hinges which can keep doors closed. Hearts, too. And so on this 17th Day of February, 2024, I’m grateful for the oil of kindness and for Grace to forgive and be forgiven.

At the end of the page, after I’d written, “We did out best.” I should’ve added the obvious, “God did the rest.” So I wrote a favorite quote from Anne Lamott, “Grace bats last.” But it starts with the Kindness of God towards us. And our daily choices to be kind. Which came back to me yesterday when I opened a card from my friend, Judy. It read, ” IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND.”

A good place to start.

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7 Comments

  • Reply Toni Lovingood February 17, 2024 at 3:56 pm

    Jan,
    Just as your mom would have done, you and Ralph and the family kept the door cracked open so that when Dan decided to walk through it he was welcomed with love and open arms. Prodigal son, prodigal brother, we have all been prodigals separated until God reconciled us back to him.
    Reconciliation is just a beautiful thing.
    Remember the old Glen Campbell song, “Try a Little Kindness”.
    It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.
    Love,
    Toni

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 17, 2024 at 7:10 pm

      Thanks, dear Toni, for adding to the blog with your comments. Yes, we’re all in need of God’s restoration and reconciliation. Prodigals all. I liked Glen Campbell. Thanks for reminding me of one of his songs. For sure, even if kindness costs something, to be mean-spirited and unforgiving costs way too much.

  • Reply Valerie mccoy February 17, 2024 at 6:40 pm

    As always Jan, I anticipate your heart’s writing. You make no apologies ‘for the hope that is in you’, so your tenderness always shines through. How lovable you are!

    Last week I heard a poignant recollection from a pastor in Colorado. I’m sure it has been told hundreds of times, so forgive me if I am repeating this humble truth.

    “There was a father and son who continually argued, bitterly, which led to the son moving out and not contacting his father again. After many years the father ached for his son and longed for reconciliation and forgiveness. So the father put an ad in the newspaper because he didn’t know where the son had moved.
    ‘My son Andrew; all is forgiven
    and I love you. Please meet me
    tomorrow, 12 noon, at the corner
    cafe’ in our hometown so we can
    begin again with love &
    forgiveness. I will be waiting.
    Dad

    The next day, 800 Andrews showed up at the corner cafe’.”

  • Reply Jan Carlberg February 17, 2024 at 7:14 pm

    Oh, dear Valerie, I’m weeping at such a scene. So many prodigals. Too many unwilling to risk reconciliation. But when we do, the line is long. God’s placed a deep longing in us to be connected to Him and to each other. Thanks for sharing this heart-warming story. And no, you have not quoted it before. But then, at my age, I may have forgotten!!

  • Reply Dale February 17, 2024 at 7:44 pm

    Was this written for men, too? I have been kind lots of times. I know this because people have said, “well that was pretty kind for you.” Do you believe I am misinterpreting this comment? Actually, I attended a funeral yesterday for a dear friend and, thankfully, Christ-follower. In the eulogy, the first thing mentioned was his kindness even in his laugh. Thanks for the reminder that kindness is not only an appreciated virtue but a daily choice as well.

    Blessings, brother Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg February 17, 2024 at 8:59 pm

      Yes, it’s for men, too. Somewhere along the line,kindness is sometimes mistaken for softness. Not so! It’s tough stuff. And you, while you make me laugh with your “that was pretty kind for you,” are a kind person, my dear friend, Dale.. I can speak from personal experience. Jud, too, except. he’s not within hearing range. But then, my hearing’s not as good as it used to be. As for the funeral of your friend, it’s a high complement to be known for kindness.

  • Reply Shirley Dubeau February 20, 2024 at 9:24 am

    Perfect quote from good old Mr. Rogers:
    IN A WORLD WHERE YOU CAN BE ANYTHING, BE KIND!
    I remember posting Ephesians 4:32 on the ‘fridge and teaching our kids to memorize it and after every sibling “fight” they each recited it to each other … sometimes with rolling eyes but they did it!

    Kindness is truly the oil of life.
    Hugs,
    Shirley

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