Your car has moved a little and your seat and mirrors will need adjusting
The message was succinct and without punctuation, typical text communication from my husband.
He wouldn’t have sent it at all, he acknowledged later, except he worried I might have freaked out when I didn’t see the Outback where I had parked it that morning. In what was also typical fashion, he had ninja’d in, taken the grungy vehicle to be washed, and filled the tank with gas while I was busy trying to keep unruly teenagers in class. But when he returned it, another car had filled the empty parking space and he had to find a different spot.
As much as I hate to admit it, if it weren’t for his text, there is a really good chance I might not have noticed the kind gesture, the shiny exterior, the way the orange line slid from the E to the F when I turned the key in the ignition, and Zach Williams’ voice rattled the windows. The work day had been a bit fatiguing, and then there had been an after-school club, and as I stepped out into it’s-finally-time-to-go-home freedom, my arms laden with overstuffed bags of craft supplies, the evening air cruelly bit through my slacks. My fingers froze while I attempted to sift through various texts and Facebook messages on my phone; the other half of my brain was stuck on the avocado I had left on the counter at breakfast time, wondering if it would still be good for dinner.
So yeah, apart from the brief message, my husband’s act of kindness might not have even reached my peripheral vision. And that reality cut through as sharply as the Colorado cold.
Was this typical Marie fashion? It made me sad. Made me wonder. How many times have I cruised right past the kindness of family, friends, and strangers without even noticing? Full speed ahead, never slowing down to capture? I decided right then that I needed to open my eyes, to begin actively looking and acknowledging.
It is really amazing what you see when you are searching.
Kind words. Kind gestures. Kind hearts. Laughter. Hugs. Notes. Cards. Unexpected gifts.
An Ever-Faithful God.
Oh, how I needed to see that.
Because the reality of missing out on kindness cut through on a much more visceral level. It has been a spiritually tough season; bitter cold slicing through my comfortable, well-worn garments of praise and joy. Hurricane like winds are currently tearing at my coat of faith, and it whips precariously, threatening to be hurled like Dorothy’s house into a land of Oz.
Not only do I need to be actively paying attention to the kindness of the people around me, for my own spiritual health and growth, I need to plead Psalm 119:18 in the very depths of my spirit:
Open my eyes that I may behold wonderful things from your law.
Open my eyes.
I need to see.
See Your goodness, God, in the midst of this storm, see somehow, when I’ve got eyes clenched tight against the gale, against the flying debris, against the I-can’t even-look-anymore blindness.
Open my eyes that I may behold.
Pay attention to.
Look intently at, look into, show regard to.
Regard with pleasure.
When that text came in, and my eyes were forced open, I was suddenly able to see, to regard with pleasure, the setting sun glinting off my newly washed Outback.
Likewise, I need to slow down, to gaze into the perfect character and ways and promises of my Redeemer, even when – especially when – I hear nothing but thunderous winds.
They are all around me, promises like this one:
The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still. Exodus 14:14
I don’t like to be still, don’t like to have anyone fighting my battles, I don’t like to admit there is even a battle being fought.
But maybe the kindness of God begins with acknowledging.
And putting down the gloves.
And tearing down the walls and letting people into those secret places.
Beholding God’s kindness.
I see it, I see it!
The Son radiating off the beauty from the second half of Psalm 5,
Weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning.
Night seasons are temporary, and oh the joy of a new morning dawning!
Yes, let me gaze with pleasure on this promise, Lord.
Slow down, take a deep breath, and behold truth.
(Why is it such a struggle to slow down?)
Pay close attention to it, the Truth.
Pay attention to these words from Habakkuk 3:18-19, the reference now permanently inked onto my wrist:
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills.
Yes, yes, yes. Eyes open, off the circumstances. I’m paying attention, looking at You. And there it is – the joy of You!
Let me behold.
All of the kindness.
Grateful for this wonderful life (storms and all),
Marie with a 🙂