Saturday, January 9, 2010

Love is all you need

"Anna... I have a granddaughter named Anna..." I can still hear the voice of Vern LaSala, the chaplain at Ohio Northern University, uttering this phrase time and time again is his deep and calming voice. There are many things I remember about my time at ONU shared with Vern... the way he could never admit to forgetting a name, how deeply he breathed when waiting for a staffer to respond during spiritual growth, belting Neal Diamond in the university van on the way to the nature center, his nerdy but oh so well loved books of the Bible tie, and many others.

The most lasting thing I remember though is Vern's email signature. It has been the same since I started in college in August of 2004. It simply reads

"Regardless of the Circumstance, Always Do the Loving Thing."

I have mindlessly read that phrase more in my life than I care to count, but this last year has been a year of me putting that into action. I returned to ONU for lunch with some friends, and I stopped in to visit Vern. The first thing he did was proudly present me with a rubber bracelet, orange and white marbled, that reads "Always Do the Loving Thing" followed by a heart. He told me that the heart put the phrase over the character limit for the bracelet company, but he pleaded until they let him include it (actually, I believe his wonderful secretary, Jody King, did the pleading...). This bracelet, but more importantly this phrase, has been the tag-line for Vern's ministry, and now I find it seeping into my ministry.

This phrase was brought to my mind this week as I read through the status updates of my friends... My friend Karen had posted a quote from Leo Tolstoy... now, I had never cared much for Tolstoy, so I am surprised that I actually read the quote. It read

"The kinder and more thoughtful a person is, the more kindness they can find in other people."

I have experienced in the past few weeks a lot of people who think that if someone is inconsiderate to you, you should respond in an inconsiderate manner. I have also experienced people who are just downright angry by nature. I have always known that I am not one of those people. I believe that kindness is key, and despite how someone is treating you, you should respond in the most considerate way possible. I give the credit to my mother for raising me in this manner.

But what I have come to realize is that current American attitude, by and large, will walk all over people who keep this kindness and love mentality. I know this because I have often found myself literally crying after some person has treated me poorly after I have responded out of love.

... But there are a few instances where someone has been downright sour to me, and I have tried with everything in me to respond in kindness and love. A rare time or two, the person with whom I am dealing ends up melting right in front of me, breaking down to show me some deeper issues that they are working through. It has become quite the interesting phenomenon to see!! I have seen how my friend and mentor, Vern, can place that one sentence about love at the heart of his ministry.

Love and Kindness get you places that Irritation and Frustration cannot. So if you see me in a sticky situation and have to bet on how I will react, you should place your money on me doing the loving thing, regardless of the circumstance.

1 comment:

Gus said...

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" -Plato

Well spoken Anna :)