But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
I have left to explore the trail seldom taken, the Bettering road. – Dr. Ed
I’ve mentioned my imaginary friend before, the physician whose practice is in the corner of my mind. The short gentlemen with the Einstien like mustache and silver buzz cut, Dr. Ed, edification expert. He practices what he refers to as “the anti-me”, or honoring others above self. A whimsical illustration in a world that too often is slow to say thank you, but quick to say what about me.
I hadn’t heard from him in a while, so naturally I was concerned when I got this letter. As crazy as it may seem, I was worried about my sensitive friend. Could he survive in this cold and sometimes uncaring world? That’s when the postcards started.
Pictures from across the country of people caring for others. Snapshots of individuals who spend their waking hours caring for others more than themselves. Lives that aren’t only vacationers from selfishness, but citizens of another realm. A place where caring about your brother isn’t a relic, but a daily, reoccurring event.
The Pastor’s Wife who not only takes care of her family, but works until midnight in the care of others. She, along with the volunteers I saw the last two nights prepping for VBS to ensure the kids have a special experience. Or the man who put politics aside to comfort an opponent during a time of loss. These people practice the act of living life’s which better those in their pathway every day.
We live in a world of noise, where kindness isn’t a stranger, just simply drowned out. Selfishness is loud, selflessness isn’t. Caring for others goes about its business quietly. It not only doesn’t seek the spotlight, it avoids it entirely.
There are good people still in this world, kind, caring, and polite individuals. They just don’t advertise themselves. If it doesn’t seem like it to us, we have two courses of action. The first is to lament the loss, shake the head, and go about our way.
The other is to pick up the banner of edification and blaze a trail. We can activate in our own lives what we see as absent in our sphere of influence. Be kind, be thoughtful, be polite, and hardest of all, be patient.
Let’s face it, our common concern goes out the window when someone cuts us off in traffic. When someone is rude, our reaction isn’t to counter their attitude, but to compound it with our own. I can’t affect my world if I act just like it.
That’s what the practice of edification is all about. It’s not a natural instinct, but a cultivated response. Patience is a virtue, and virtues take work. Improving our world is completely doable, if we’re willing to work at it daily.
I’ll wrap this up with my friend’s prescription for a sour world, which is a daily transfusion. “Every individual must roll up their sleeve and give of themselves daily.” As simple as it is, that’s it. Smiling when not easy, caring for the lives around you, and thinking about them is a great way to travel through life. You’ll be surprised how much of a difference it makes.