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~ A Spiritual Food Pyramid - Part 2 ~

Part 1 of "A Spiritual Food Pyramid" can be found at A Spiritual Food Pyramid - Part 1

I was waiting for a friend at a gas station in a strange town last night.  He was later than he thought he’d be, but I was enjoying the wait.  I love watching people. And at a gas station, there’s always a lot going on. A sports car pull up.  The guy got out and went around to the pump.  He removed the nozzle from the pump and turned toward his car.  That’s when he realized that he had forgotten to release the latch from inside the car so that they gas tank door was open. So, he replaced the nozzle and went around and reached down into his car and pulled the latch.  He walked back around the car and the tank door was not open.  He tried to push on it because sometimes this will open the door.  But it didn’t. So, he walked around again and reached in his car and pulled the latch again.  And again he walked around his car and the gas tank door was still not open. 

I couldn’t stand it another second.  I knew exactly what was needed: two people.  Not two smart people or two rich people, just any two people. So, I jumped out of my car and jogged over to the pump and the car and said, “Hey, why don’t I try to release the door as you pull the lever.  I bet that will work.” He walked around and pulled the lever and I stuck my finger in the door of the gas tank and it opened easily.  As soon as it opened I walked away towards my car.  The guy kept yelling thanks to me.  He was so surprised at my kindness.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Kill them with kindness?”  Well, that isn’t exactly what we do, but often times outright kindness is unexpected and really appreciated.

Kindness is another quality to add to our spiritual food pyramid.  One reason is that when we are kind to a stranger, their surprise and appreciation touches us deeply; touching not only our hearts, but our souls as well.   It touches the home of the Holy Spirit and for just a second, we get a glimpse of what it is like to have a heart like Jesus. And in that second, we feel so good that our whole outlook on the day changes.  Suddenly it seems warmer or sunnier or our mood lightens or we sing the next song on the radio a little louder or with more effort and feeling.  We might even conjure up a fond memory from the recesses of our mind.  Kindness has the ability to trigger emotional highs for those that we are kind to, as well as to those that choose to be kind.  It is an action that has an interesting result.  The more we choose to be kind to others, the more that others are kind to us. 

You may have heard of this story that’s been around the Internet:
Bryan almost didn't see the elderly lady, stranded on the side of the road. But even in the dim light of day, he could see she needed help. So he pulled up in front of her Mercedes and got out. His Pontiac was still sputtering when he approached her. Even with the smile on his face, she was worried. No one had stopped to help for the last hour or so ... was he going to hurt her? He could see that she was frightened, standing out there in the cold. He said, "I'm here to help you, ma'am. Why don't you wait in the car where it's warm? By the way, my name is Bryan Anderson." Bryan crawled under the car looking for a place to put the jack, skinning his knuckles a time or two. Soon he was able to change the tire.

She couldn't thank him enough for coming to her aid. The lady asked how much she owed him. Any amount would have been all right with her. Bryan never thought twice about being paid. This was helping someone in need, and God knows there were plenty who had given him a hand in the past. He told her that if she really wanted to pay him back, the next time she saw someone who needed help, she could give that person the assistance they needed, and Bryan added, "And think of me."

A few miles down the road the lady saw a small cafe. She went in to grab a bite to eat, and take the chill off before she made the last leg of her trip home. The waitress brought a clean towel to wipe her wet hair. She had a sweet smile, one that even being on her feet or the whole day couldn't erase. The lady noticed the waitress was nearly eight months pregnant, but she never let the strain and aches change her attitude. The lady wondered how someone who had so little could be so giving to a stranger. Then she remembered Bryan.

After the lady finished her meal, she paid with a hundred dollar bill. The waitress quickly went to get change, but the lady had slipped right out the door. Then she noticed something written on the napkin. There were tears in her eyes when she read, "You don't owe me anything. I have been there, too. Somebody once helped me out, the way I'm helping you.  If you really want to pay me back, here is what you do: Do not let this chain of love end with you."

Under the napkin were four more $100 bills. That night when she got home from work and climbed into bed, she was thinking about the money and what the lady had written. How could the lady have known how much she and her husband needed it? With the baby due next month, it was going to be hard… She knew how worried her husband was, and as he lay sleeping next to her, she gave him a soft kiss and whispered soft and low, "Everything's gonna be all right. I love you, Bryan Anderson."

Proverbs 14:21 says, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.”  That’s why doing kind acts makes us feel good.  We feel God’s blessings upon us and His happiness with us and it makes us just a little giddy.  We all could stand to feel a little giddy, don’t you think?  Wanna feel giddy today?  Try a random act of kindness and get ready to feel it too.

The word compassion should be found somewhere in our spiritual pyramid.  Remember how compassionate Jesus was?  In Matthew, the Bible tells us how He roamed through the towns teaching and preaching and healing sickness and disease.   Matthew 9: 36 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”  That’s when Jesus gives His disciples the ability to heal the sick.  Then He sends them out to preach and heal, saying, “Freely you have received, freely give.”  Well, God calls us to the same task. Freely we’ve been given God’s mercy and grace, and so freely are we to give of ourselves to others. Can give freely to others without having compassion?  I am not sure that we can.

Can you think of a time when you witnessed compassion?  Remember the fishes and loaves story from the Bible?  Jesus says that he has compassion for these people because they had been with him for three days and hand eaten nothing.  And so he feeds them. Compassion can be demonstrated in so many ways. And the funny thing about compassion is that it can be such a simple gesture, but have a lasting or rippling effect on others. Being compassionate doesn’t require much of anything, yet its effects are great.  We need to be able to notice the situations where a dose of compassion might make a difference in a life.

I stood in the line at the grocery store the other day.  There was a very young mother ahead of me who appeared to have her  hands full.  She had a baby on her hip and another in the front of the cart and two kids running around in circles beside her. And none of them seemed very happy as she tried to pay for her groceries. 

I wished that I could somehow help her out.  Just then the check-out clerk looked at the lady and the kids and rudely asks, “Are all of THESE yours?”  The young mother looked really tired and sheepishly replies that they are.  That’s when the clerk looked at me.  I think she wanted me to affirm her notion of disdain for this young mother.  She was looking at me for agreement about her feelings and I realized what I was to do.  I reached out to the mother and tapped her on the arm.  I said, “You are so fortunate to have such a beautiful family.  You must feel so very blessed.”  She looked at me and a beautiful smile stretched across her face.

But, that ‘s not the best part.  Something happened that I didn’t expect.  The check-out clerk’s face changed as well.  It actually softened and she reached under the counter and got on the loudspeaker and requested assistance for the lady with her groceries.  And as she handed the young mother her change, I saw her smile a genuine and compassionate smile.

It was amazing to me how a little compassion is not only noticed, but often imitated.

And remember the verse from the Bible about having compassion for the harassed and helpless?  Don’t we all have days when we feel a little harassed or helpless?  Wouldn’t it be nice to receive a little compassion from a stranger on those days? Compassion is soul food, along with kindness, forgiveness and, the greatest, love. Indeed, a pyramid of spiritual nourishment!

Anita M. Benna
Guest Contributor

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