Blog: 14 March 2013
"We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect." (Anais Nin )
I walked into the front office to retrieve my mail. Most of the staff had left for the day. It was Friday and nearly six o' clock.
"Mr Main," came a familiar voice from behind. "Do you want to see my report card?"
I turned to see Precious Stevens--a parent of two of our CamdenForward School students.
Precious pulled out her report card and showed each magnificent advancement. Every category--reading, writing, math--displayed significant improvement. She'd been working with tutors and taking night classes the past few years.
"I'll be taking my GED exam soon!" she pronounced after I finished my thorough review.
I assured Precious that we'd throw a party when she received her high school degree. I gave her a high five and headed to the front door to start my weekend. Later that night I found myself in front of the television watching Brian Williams of NBC. His news program Rock Center featured an expose on Camden about the crime and violence that plagued the city this past year. Far from an encouraging report, Williams highlighted the record number of violent deaths, a disintegrating police department, and a drug trade that is out of control. Then I remembered Precious and my encounter that afternoon.
Five years earlier, journalist Diane Sawyer had done a similar story on Camden. In that program Sawyer featured a young, homeless, illiterate woman struggling to provide shelter for her two young boys on the streets of Camden. Her name was Precious.
The outpouring of love and compassion generated from the show was overwhelming. UrbanPromise was able to help Precious find an apartment and a job, enroll her boys at our school, and assist with her education. Perhaps the city had not changed dramatically over the past five years, but Precious' life had.
I turned off the television, closed my eyes, and reflected on my late afternoon encounter with the same Precious. I pondered that moment again, remembering her smile, excitement, pride, and joy. And then it dawned on me. This encounter was not an interruption to my workday. It was not an inconvenience at the end of a busy week. This encounter was a gift, given by the one who is faithful and good.
Anais Nin once wrote that writers are people who "taste life twice." I've always liked that quote. I think the same is true for Christians who take the time to reflect and recognize the gifts God gives in the ordinary moments of each day. When we stop to ponder, reflect, and meditate we place ourselves in a position to "taste" the miracle of life--both as it happens and in retrospect. God is always present, enveloping us in a shroud of sacredness. We just need to pause long enough to notice.
Dr. Bruce Main
President & Founder, UrbanPromise
“Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3
The coupling of these two virtues, kindness and truth, is no accident. Like any great partnership, they complete one another. Oxygen by itself can be deadly, as can hydrogen. Put them together in the right combination and you create the substance that gives humans life. How many of us have met kind people, but they lack the courage to be truthful? In fact, their kindness enables unhealthy behavior. Conversely, how many of us have met blunt, direct, obtuse people whose words wound and injure? Kindness and truth, bound together, written side by side on our hearts, can create a balance that brings healing and wholeness.
We live in a world of lies. Politicians lie to get elected, executives lie to employees to get better profits, accountants manipulate balance sheets to deceive shareholders, advertisers lie to consumers to get their money, and we lie to ourselves...for all kinds of reasons. We become masters at justifying our choices, convincing ourselves that it’s someone else’s job to speak the truth. Our world desperately needs people who will bring truth, in the spirit of kindness, to their places of work, their relationships, and to their churches.
Is there someone you have wronged? Have you set it right? Is there a moral failing you’ve been hiding? First, talk this over with God in brutal honesty. Then, open up to one other person—a trusted counselor, pastor, or fellow believer. Take the courageous action of confessing. (The Promise Effect, p. 52)
Lord, build me up on both sides: truth and love. Give me the courage to speak the truth. Give me the compassion to do so in kindness.