My husband was going through some of our ancient boxes of keepsakes and found my also ancient autograph book. I giggled my way through some of the poems “Roses are red, violets are blue” and sentiments written by middle school friends, then I came to this page and was warmed to my core. Back in 2014 I wrote about someone who impacted my life, Grandma Windnagle. I didn’t remember that she had written in my autograph book, but there it is on February 8, 1967, her message to my not quite 13 year old self.
You’ll never regret being kind.
Does anyone remember traveling in the south and reading road signs that spelled out an entire sentence strung together in incremental words? Or maybe they advertised Berma Shave and Ipana Toothpaste. I haven’t traveled backroads of the south for several years so those signs might have been uprooted and banned by now. One sign in particular still stands out in my mind; not because it had a cute picture or was unmistakably ‘marketing’, but because it simply stated ‘You’ll never regret being kind.” That’s it … You’ll never regret being kind.
How many opportunities in a lifetime do we have to be kind? When life is treating us well, it’s easier to be kind than when every day is another uphill battle. Sometimes, when I feel road weary and not very kind I remember one of my favorite verses in Jeremiah 31:3 where the Lord says “”I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” Comforting – unfailing kindness. I want to be someone who is kind.
I was a pretty typical teenager – questioning everything, self-centered, and opinionated. Mom and dad, if you’re able to read blogs from heaven, I can see you nodding feverishly in agreement with that statement. I was not practicing Galatians 5:22 at all “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” There was a woman in town at that time who did seem to be just that way though. Everyone called her grandma, Grandma Windnagle with the eternal smile radiating from her 4 foot 11 inch frame. Her age was a mystery to me, but her smile and sweet spirit was ageless. Grandma was known for making huge sugar cookies, the size baked for lumberjacks, but I remember her for having a heart the size of a lumberjack’s. She lived out Galatians 5:25 “We live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” She lived at poverty level, but she never went out without putting on kindness.
One day when a bunch of kids were clustered on the steps of the school, we watched this faded out mauve colored Nash Rambler drive down the street, without a driver. Well, it seemed that there was no driver, but peeking out between the steering wheel and the dashboard of the car were the smiling eyes of Grandma Windnagle. It struck me then that despite her circumstances, she was eternally kind. Back home in our kitchen that afternoon I mused to my mom “When I grow up, I want to be just like Grandma Windnagle!” Oh boy … and my mom’s instant retort? “Well you better start practicing now!” I guess my mom knew I was going to need a lot of time and opportunity to practice if I was going to get it right. I still have not achieved Grandma Windnagle status. I’m still a work in progress.
I was listening to a presentation by Zig Ziglar when he asked if we could name 3 people who have impacted your life. Grandma Windnagle, whom I knew for just 4 years of my teenage life, was one silent role model of the person I wanted to become. There are many opportunities in a day to be put out, insolent, arrogant, opinionated, and unforgiving. Sometimes I think Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address has never left that testing phase of long endurance “… we are caught on the battlefield of this great war … ” With every opportunity comes the attitude and the action. Chuck Swindoll is famous for his writing on attitude. He said “The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day.” Paul was a Christ follower who endured an awful lot of hardship and persecution, yet he remained positive. Read this in 2Corinthians 6:3-12 where he describes his how he envisions his life path. “in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in hard work, in purity, understanding, and kindness; in the genuine love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything; open hearts not withholding our affection …”
I think Chuck Swindoll has this attitude thing certified. He says “Encouragement is awesome. It (can) actually change the course of another person’s day, week, or life.” What do you think? You’ll never regret being kind. Let’s get out there and encourage someone today. Ready?
We may feel like failures – but God is there in the mystery waiting for us to call his name, follow his path, and do good.