Well – the holiday marathon has certainly begun. And I hope that our little hydration effort has been a help.
If nothing else, thanks for humoring me.
It has helped me on many fronts – even yesterday when a whole line of cars started honking as a stoplight turned from red to green. Rather than be frustrated, I was reminded to go beyond that unnecessary-rudeness (no one in the long line could move due to the lined cars on the other side of the light) to consider the people behind the steering wheels of those honking cars. And I hoped that whatever was making their day crummy enough to indignantly blast their horns would get better. Traffic stress got dialed down.
But along with pre-race hydration, marathoners also have water stations along the way. So, welcome to #hydratefortheholidays water stations: practical, hands on ways to grab a drink and lighten our mental loads. (I’m a geek – I know. The kids remind me often :)
Water Station 1: Others
We’ve said before that eyes off self and on others (as in loving others) just might be the secret-sauce to life. During the holidays – actually everyday – there are ways to see and to serve others in lots of practical, hydrating ways. Here are a few:
1. Serving simply to serve – in a way where the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing.
Over the last few years, in a wonderful effort to promote community service, we might have allowed serving to be about others – but about us too. It’s hard to keep it 100% about others when kids are required to track community service, when applications ask questions like: philanthropic efforts, or when social media begs for the pics of mission-serving locally and around the globe. NONE of which is bad in and of itself.
But just for kicks, sprinkle all that good (which whether we make it about ourselves or not – serving is good) with a few silent serving-simply-to-serve efforts. They’re everywhere. We have plenty around our home and daily life. I seem to say it all the time: “Just put their dish in the sink and don’t announce it!” Or when driving by someone in need: “Buy the guy a burger and don’t tell a soul – not even me. Use your own money.” In as much as serving helps someone else – it ALWAYS makes us feel good. But maybe even better when done silently. (Thoughts?)
That said, keep posting pics – because it’s not about that. Those pics actually help some of us know about new ways to serve and act as reminders/inspiration to serve. Maybe just add some silent service to the mix – simply for little extra hydration.
2. Love the ones your with – even when they might be driving mad.
In a full house, you don’t have to travel far to have someone firing up the ire – especially in those lovely teen years. The act of considering OTHERS interests ahead of your own has lots of practical opportunities at hand.
I’m convinced if we can serve those closest to us we can serve anyone – especially when fair has left the building and when stress levels are high. With exams on deck, the emotions are high. So it has been a challenge to consider OTHERS in a positive way, to give a grumpy sibling (or spouse – that would be me) the benefit of the doubt – especially when our focus fights to be anchored on ourselves.
And, with all those tiny little baby steps (like giving a brother a break because he doesn’t feel good, or he’s stressed over an assignment or … fill in the blank) comes a greater sensitivity to others in our life who also might need a break.
I watched a child walk out of the door this morning armed with little sacks of home-made cookies to give her teachers. She added an extra for a friend who has alienated herself from others through doses of rude here and there (which can either be popular-cool or social suicide at their age.) It was hard for the cookie-girl to be nice to someone who’s been harsh. But the kid fought to find compassion. She’s had a lot of practice (not all of it pretty – some of the compassion has been given to her) at home.
And, regardless the outcome, a lightness in being accompanied those cookie sacks. She literally had a bounce in her step.
The power of OTHERS-centeredness was a work.
3. Consideration of OTHERS can help our own shaky ground become firm.
Sometimes I wake up in the wee hours of the morning. My heart feels heavy. And I wonder if all is well – mostly with my kids. Thoughts tend to gravitate toward the roads we’re traveling that feel unstable. I want to fix things that I can’t fix. Because as kids get older, as relationships get complicated, when situations are out of our control – it’s can be hard to find firm footing.
This morning it happened at 2:36 a.m.
But rather than let the thoughts race, I’ve learned to pray and to remember God’s character and His promises. Wrangling thoughts off myself always helps.
I begin to tick through my list of friends who are traveling particularly tough roads. And I can’t help but wonder if the Lord nudged me to wake up so I could pray.
Lord God, please go before sweet Samantha. Wrap her in the warmth of your love. Please heal her. Stop the growth of the tumors and make them disappear – which I know is a bold ask, but you say to ask. Thank you for that. Please keep the pain at bay. And please protect the hearts of her parents, John & Lauren. And her sister Katie. Guide their eyes so that they see beyond the suffering. Thank you for the laughter that has filled their house in the midst of such incomprehensible yuck.
Then I pray for more friends: Jen, Scott & Linc; Greg, Tracey & Jackson; Jeannie & Doug; Connie & John, Heather …. The list continues as I ask the Lord to remind me who needs prayer. I remember to pray for my family. I pray for my kids, for Jon, for my folks, for …. and so it goes. Unaware, thoughts anchored above, I drift back to sleep with a much lighter heart.
Trust me, I’m not some holy-roller. I’m just grabbing for the life-line like everyone else. But I have noticed over the last few years, that force-landing my thoughts on others through compassion (even/maybe especially in prayer) hydrates and helps me continue down our own road.
There’s something about getting our eyes off of ourselves and onto thoughtful/loving consideration of others that literally pumps oxygen into life – even at 2:36 a.m. CST.
See Also: THIS –
Thanks for walking the road with me.