You know, a body could get to feeling pretty disheartened during these troubled days in our nation. There are those on the far right and far left who are drowning out the reasonable voices of us in the middle. If they’d just simmer down some, maybe we could be heard.
I don’t get as discouraged by the non-Christians as I do by the ones who claim Christ yet still advocate violence, white supremacy and hate. I am embarrassed by some of the mean, spiteful things I read on Facebook from these professed Christians. I keep hearing Sheriff Taylor talking about old man Weaver on the old paths of “The Andy Griffith Show”: “When that man’s time comes to go, he ain’t gonna go like everybody else; he’s just gonna nasty away!”
I’m not saying let’s just sweep all the racial tension and other divisive issues under the rug and pretend there aren’t problems. I’m simply arguing that you can speak truth and cry out for justice without being nasty or violent about it. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
What we speak has power. If you believe the Bible, then you know that God created the world by His Word. If people claim to have that same God inside them, then the words they speak are creative as well.
Imagine that if every time you spoke something negative and hateful, a nasty smell came from your mouth into the air (I’m not talking about bad breath!), and ugly colors and images began pouring out of you. And what if everyone spoke that way? Ugh—what a gross atmosphere to inhabit! We would breathe in the nastiness coming from the spiteful people, and our point of view would be negatively affected.
On the other hand, imagine if every time you spoke something positive and loving, a fragrant aroma wafted from your mouth into the air, and flowers and gorgeous colors began floating out of you. And what if others joined you? Wow—what a beautiful atmosphere to thrive in! We would soak in the love coming from the positive people, and our viewpoints would be affected for the good.
Simplistic? Farfetched? Maybe. But do we question that force called “momentum” in a ballgame? Or the contagious nature of both fear and laughter?
I dream of even one day in which every American speaks only loving, positive things. I think the very foundations of our world would be shaken!
Meanwhile, as many with opposing viewpoints keep slashing at each other, there are those who walk in love and kindness toward others. My dear friend Belinda from Sandy Ridge has a heart for random acts of kindness. She gave me some fabulous ideas for the kids we taught at SUPER SUMMER at The Well this year—painting rocks with messages of hope and leaving them randomly around town or filling up goody bags with an encouraging note on each one to be given to a random person.
I’ve also seen the “Pay It Forward” movement take off. More and more people are paying for the meal or coffee of the unknown person in the drive-thru behind them—to spread the love of God..…or just because.
Then there are people like my Mama who might just show up at your door with a hot meal when you’re ailing…..or my 4-H club members who are eager to hand out bags of food and toiletries to homeless people…..or people like you and me who are determined to light up social media with encouragement and positive thoughts.
Even the smallest kind gesture or word makes a difference.
I recently ran into some precious friends from my days at St. Mark UMC who told me that an unknown woman in her mid-30’s stopped by their house the other day. She wanted to give them a gift for helping her when she was a scared 16-year-old whose car had broken down near their house. Twenty years later, she was still so moved by their kindness and loving assistance that she dropped by to bless them.
They were difference-makers. And it mattered.
Stokes County has lost some of these difference-makers in the past few weeks. One of them was my friend Madeline Watkins from up in Lawsonville. I came to know her long ago when her daughter Dorinda married into my Bray family.
Just before Madeline passed away, I was picking up my little boy from Walnut Cove Library’s “Lego Club Night.” I began to chat with a man who said he had recently become a Christian. Turns out that while he was laid up in Lawsonville after being disabled in an accident—lonely and needing help—Madeline showed up at his door with bags of groceries, the love of God and an invitation to her church.
He now attends that church…..all because an elderly widow—who could’ve been enjoying her golden years watching soap operas or playing cards with friends—reached out. She was white-haired; his hair hangs way down his back, and his beard, way down his front. She wore spectacles; he wears
tattoos. She was in her mid-80’s; he is in his mid-30’s. The love of God crosses all boundaries.
In this self-centered, victim-mentality world, we need more Madeline’s. She constantly volunteered for her church and community—was always doing for her friends and family…..and even for those she didn’t really know, like my new friend. Dorinda tells me that Madeline didn’t volunteer out of obligation: “She loved every second of it. She would get so tired, and we’d tell her she needed to slow down and give up some of her activities, but she would not. She has said more than once, ‘I can’t just sit here at home in my recliner by myself and do nothing.’”
At Madeline’s home-going service, there were more people at Delta UMC than anyone can remember. The ministers spoke of her service for others and wondered who will step up to fill her shoes. Let it be you and I, dear readers, who make the difference as she did. Difference-makers matter; they can change the course of the world.
Leslie Bray Brewer can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog is at http://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com.