Thursday, February 14, 2013

Intentional RAK- Serving as a Family

This week is Random Acts of Kindness Week.
Or RAK Week as we refer to it.

I've been posting simple daily ideas of RAK projects on the blog's Facebook Page.

Our family loves to find service projects we can do together, from the simple to the more complex.
We want our children to live generously.
We want to be a generous family.

Sometimes I find this hard, because I am a selfish person.
Such as this RAK project for instance... took me way out of my comfort zone.
Which makes me think that we need to do acts of service that take us out of our comfort zone on a regular basis.
It's easy for us to shovel the drive for our wonderful elderly neighbor to the south but it took great courage for me to take a loaf of home baked bread and freezer jam to another neighbor family where the husband was extremely antisocial and could often be heard yelling outside at his kids.
It was easy to bake a cake for our church's turn at the community soup pot but it took time and effort to actually go and serve at the soup pot (which, by the way, we found to be a great experience).
It's easy to let the person with only three items go ahead of us and our full cart at Aldi and it's easy to help the elderly couple in matching little drivable carts reach items on the top shelf at the grocery store.
It's easier to take a couple of items out of your packed grocery bags and put them in the collection box by the door as you leave than it is to plan and purchase and secretly deliver a week's worth of groceries to someone you work with who doesn't like you and makes fun of you.

I was once told in an evaluation that I only related well to others who related well with me.
It wasn't a positive comment.

That eval was years ago but it continues to resonate with me. I don't want to just be a person who only works to get along with those who like to get along with me.

“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ 
and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. 
I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. 
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, 
for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. 
This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—
to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. 
If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? 
Anybody can do that. 
If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? 
Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that."
Matthew 5:43-47

I keep these verses in mind when my comfort zone is being diminished and I'm whining to God that He's asking me to do too much for someone else who cares too little.
Anyone can love those that love them, but it takes someone who truly loves and desires to live out Christ to love the unlovable. I must admit to you that I still struggle with this mightily and deal with it on a case by case basis.
I've found this out too- it is often way easier for me to help someone I don't know rather than someone I do know. I can overlook the faults and such that I find in the person I don't know, because I dont' know their whole story, their bad choices or misadventures. When it comes to helping a family member, who by their own bad choices and unwillingness to listen to good advice... oh, I struggle. A lot. I often find myself living inside this saying, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." With helping out family from bad circumstances they got themselve in yet again, oh I struggle. Where is the line between helping and enabling? My heart tends to harden rather than soften and I get angry. 
I am a work in progress but the good thing is- I  want to progress. I want to stretch myself and my family out of our comfort zone and reach out intentionally to help others.

Part of that process towards progress has been changing up my prayer life.

Last year, through a set of interesting circumstances, we as a family decided that every time we complain about or make judging statements against others we must immediately stop and pray for them. It has been very eye opening for us.
Someone once told me, you can't hate someone you pray for.
I gotta tell you, I'm still working on that. It is very difficult to pray for someone you dislike and distrust but God can show you a lot about yourself when you work to do so.

With that said, our family is looking for ways to be more intentional about how we reach out and make a difference to others. We've found some great ideas thanks to Pinterest. And I've even created a Family Service Projects board there. We're pouring over more ideas and making more plans. We're thinking of picking three projects a month to focus on right now, the possibility of keeping a family service project journal and discussing how to fund some of the ideas we're noodling on.


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