Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9)
This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. (Galatians 5:16-17)
The biggest possible blessing is God Himself, not the gifts He gives us. With that understood, notice how tenderly and with detail our great God works out the little things in life and shows His love for us through the kindness of others. He is concerned with every detail of our lives.
I have been sick for a long time and worse these past couple of years, but I love to work and be productive. Being too sick to even keep up my house and yard is the pits! Not having moved my car in quite a few days— I drove it twice in six weeks, it sat collecting sap, sooty mold, and whatever else fell from the trees. I have been too sick to get groceries as usual from my beloved Sprouts Farmers Market, so I utilized the blessing of the free pickup service from Walmart. It is truly a Godsend for groceries and other needs when you aren’t able to shop in the store for yourself.
Lying in the bed too sick to sleep last night, I planned my day ahead, hoping after the sun rose that my health would match my enthusiasm. I planned to wash my car this morning so that I could drive it to get my Walmart order and run a few in-town errands. I didn’t plan for it to rain all morning. I was too weak and sick to wash the car anyway. I smiled as I thought about God sending the rain to ensure that I did not wash the car. I am embarrassed to admit that I still debated it. I’ve washed cars in all sorts of weather and been glad to do it. But I realize right now I am too sick, and my energy needs to accomplish different priorities. God’s patience and perseverance with me is teaching me to have the same with myself, my situation, and with others.
I decided to give the new car wash in town a go. The two young workers were so polite and helpful. They energetically scrubbed at the sap and sooty mold. Sadly, it seems to be soaked into the paint, but they tried. I gave them my ten dollars emergency gas money as a tip because I felt they earned it. They refused to keep it, perhaps because my car and I looked and sounded so pitiful. Regardless of why they did it, they chose kindness. Kindness occurs only when intention is coupled with action.
I noticed while using their vacuum about a one-inch caterpillar shape where the paint came off my car when one of the young men dropped his long-handled brush against it. Accidents happen, and this one because the young man was trying so hard to clean my nasty car. I don’t know if the young man noticed the blemish or not, but I chose to not mention it. It’s called grace. I know I need it every moment and am so thankful for it; I exist because of grace. We all are given grace, and it’s our choice whether or not to give what we have received.
The two young men had already returned my tip and had given me a second air freshener before I noticed the spot of missing paint. Before the blemish happened, the two young men showed enthusiasm for their work and didn’t judge me for bringing possibly the nastiest car they’ve cleaned, aside from muddy recreational vehicles. After I noticed the blemish but didn’t mention it, they gave me a gift card for another wash; they said it was for being so nice and patient. There had been a couple of hiccups in the service but nothing not easily understood. Because I had already decided they paid with the ten-dollar tip they returned for the tube of touch up paint I will have to buy, I was overjoyed at their kindness of the gift card for another wash. Whether they felt sorry for a weak, shaky lady who can barely leave her house or they were hoping to smooth over for causing the blemish, I am thankful for the car being cleaner and for seeing young people with a work ethic and kindness for others.
I may never know their motives behind the car wash gift card and in not keeping the tip, but I will choose to be thankful for all the goodness of the day and deeds. I could make a fuss over the blemish they caused, but accidents happen. They eagerly exerted effort to do a thorough job. I could pout about my very stained car whose paint job may not be recoverable at this point or that almost all the seals of the car leak allowing water in with every little rain. I could sulk about the creaking, knocking sounds my car makes when damp. Honestly, I was embarrassed noisily rolling through Walmart’s parking lot. I could mope about the high cost of insurance for driving my twice monthly outings.
However, there are much happier facts to focus on! I have a running car to use when needed that is now much cleaner. The blemish from today’s wash should be a simple repair with touch-up paint.
First thing this morning, I had re-started my day in God’s Word after struggling on my own for direction, energy, and productivity. I prayed earnestly for wisdom to live God’s way today. I chose grace and gratitude at the car wash and was rewarded physically and spiritually. Afterwards, the blessings continued. Picking up my Walmart order, I got a whole bag of goodies for free. The young man who loaded my car said it was a gift from Walmart. Though I cannot personally benefit from most items, I will pass them on to others who can. After leaving Walmart, I had good interactions with several folks at the post office and recycle center and finally accomplished several tasks over the phone with the help of very kind customer service reps struggling to decipher my requests through my shaky voice.
What a day of blessings! So much accomplished today. So many extra niceties through others. Despite being too sick to record a teaching video this week or to get much needed yard and housework done, I am blessed more than I can write about.
I could have had a completely different perspective today. I could have thought it was about time Walmart did something right and that I deserved the goodie bag for all their screw-ups in the past with pick-up orders. I could have fussed about the ding to my car by the young man trying to get it clean. I could have huffed in the post office about their opening a smidge later than posted after I had already come while they were closed for lunch or about having to stand in line outside because there was a good handful of us in line. I could have responded snidely to the entitled lady who was going to breeze through the door I was holding open while never acknowledging me or the line ahead. Instead, I kindly let her know that we had to wait outside since all the six-foot spaces inside were taken. I heard three or four people speaking negatively while waiting and leaving the post office. I really didn’t want to go in there just to buy stamps, and I think there should be an easier way, especially with COVID, but I am thankful that I got the stamps and mailed the cards.
The negatives will always be there. We can be governed by them or focus on the blessings instead. When we focus on the blessings, we are getting so much more goodness in return: we hold on to our joy and peace and even have mental and physical health benefits. Focusing on the blessings, we refuse to give the negatives a foothold in our day or satan in our lives, one situation and response at a time.