Kindness Challenge|Week 4: Kindness Role Model

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Dear Grandma,

When it was suggested, in the 2017 Kindness Challenge, to write a letter to a role model, I immediately thought of you. Your 4 ft. 8 in. frame belied the giant that you truly were. For the 36 years that we spent together, your spirit of generosity and sacrifice never ceased to amaze me. 

As far back as I can remember, you were the happiest when giving to others. Whether it was financial assistance or help of some other kind, you were the first to step up and offer. Your Christian faith and love for God motivated your charitable nature.

I also remember what a hard worker you were. With only a sixth-grade education you had to leave school and go to work as domestic help for more well-to-do households. The money you earned was turned over to your parents to help with expenses for a large, but poor German family.


“In everything, I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  Acts 20:35


Elderly HandsREVYou cleaned, scrubbed, and provided childcare for others and then came home and did some more. You ran errands that involved walking long distances in all kinds of weather. You had to grow up before your time and missed out on the joys of being a kid.

This kind of menial labor continued until you retired at 65. 

Your hands were the reflection of this lifetime of hard work. No smooth, soft skin or manicured nails. No jewelry. Just rough-hewn palms and translucent skin, mottled with age spots and a lacework of veins.  

I recall these hands clearly. Smallish, yet capable of so much. From kneading floured dough to fixing my broken toys to pointing out the Bible verses as I followed along.


“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

You didn’t earn much money but managed to save most of it. You lived very simply and wasted nothing, repurposing long before it became fashionable. Clothes and cars were second-hand, but your treatment of others was first-rate. You had very little in the way of material possessions, yet you wanted for nothing.

Despite the many hardships you never became bitter. It’s easy to show kindness and generosity when life has been good. But, it’s not as simple when life has been harsh. We tend to look at others and wonder why we don’t have the same opportunities. 

I never heard you complain about any aspect of your life. Your attitude of gratitude was nothing short of amazing, which is why I consider you a true role model.

I’ve learned to appreciate the basic necessities of life without always wanting something more. You taught me this. I feel sorry for those who define themselves by their material possessions. You explained that they’re trying to fill up the emptiness inside.

You always took pride in your work and reminded me that no matter what the job is we should always do our best. 

Your advice was to try to help others whenever possible and always with a smile. I may not be able to give in large ways, but I try to give in a lot of small ways.


“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9: 6-7


The lessons in kindness, generosity, and humility that you always taught by example shaped the very best parts of me and I’ll be forever grateful. Thankful for your love and all that you gave with such a caring heart.

I miss you a lot and hope that you’re proud of my efforts as a daughter, mother, partner, and friend. I try to give my best to all the people in my life, just as you did in yours.

With much love & gratitude…xoxoxo


 

How To Differentiate Between Good Fear & Bad Fear

“There is a time to take counsel of your fears, and there is a time to never listen to any fear.” ~ George Patton


I’ve always believed that fear is like a double-edged sword.  A little bit is a good thing; we stay away from the edge of the cliff and that keeps us safe.

Conversely, too much is a bad thing;  it can cripple us, preventing new experiences and growth.

The trick is knowing the difference and understanding when fear is appropriate and when it’s debilitating.

Thanks to the almond-shaped amygdala nestled deep in the temporal lobe of the brain, our body generates fear quickly in reaction to external stimuli. The “fight or flight” response kicks in and directs us to either stay and fight the thing that scares us or run away from it. This physiological reaction is due to a tangible threat: a snake, a bear, an intruder wielding a gun, etc.

At the other end of the spectrum is fear that results from imagined threats. Yes, if we quit our mundane job to pursue our passion we might not make as much money. If we move to another city we may not be happy. If we ask for a raise we might not get it. So, because something bad might happen, we never venture outside our comfort zone.

Some risks in life are worth taking if we want to grow. Author Susan Jeffers discusses this in her best-selling book  Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.

Changes are often needed to improve our lives, but change is scary.

People in abusive relationships will stay in an unhealthy relationship and not leave their abusers. In spite of the potential for violence, these people cling to what is familiar and not face the fear of the unknown.

I credit fear with making sure I use a seatbelt, drive defensively, brush my teeth, pay my bills, etc. Fear kept me out of the deep water until I learned to swim. Fear guides me away from those things that I know can be dangerous and threaten my survival.

However, I’ve also allowed fear to paralyze me when changes were needed to improve my life.

“Throwing caution to the wind” is something I’ve learned to do over the past ten years when the circumstances called for it. I’ve made many major changes in my life and there have been great improvements because of it.

Each of those changes caused a certain amount of fear. Understanding which type of fear and whether it’s reasonable for a given situation helps in determining what the next step should be if any.

“Fear is the father of courage and the mother of safety.” ~ Henry H. Tweedy

Keeping that double-edged sword close at hand is advisable; knowing how and when to use it is imperative. If you don’t believe me, just ask General Patton!