Giving away lipstick: 10 ways to give away dignity and courage

feb09-lipstickA friend and I were sitting in a coffee shop yesterday. He is someone I learn from nearly every time we are together. We have completely different upbringings and our pasts could not be more different. I love spending time with him.

As we were chatting yesterday I asked a question which prompted him to send me an article. The article chronicled the story of a Horror Camp where people were dying daily. Shortly after the discovery of yet another death a box arrived from the British Red Cross, in it was found tubes and tubes of red lipstick. Many were baffled by the gift, but it was this gift that brought dignity to those encamped in this horrid experience. (it is a short story, I encourage you to take the time to read it)

I immediately was struck by the thought of lipstick brining dignity. I then remembered a time where I brought bouquets of flowers to women who made their home on the street and how it was important because every woman wants to feel beautiful lovely and seen and when you give a woman flowers that is what you are telling her without words.

The needs of this world are great. Every day greets us with more hatred, pain, death, useless violence, poverty and darkness. I want to be a person who brings light. A person who steps out of the comfort of home and acts. A person who brings dignity and gives courage to all she meets. A person who gives away flowers and lipstick.

I don’t always know the best ways to do bring dignity and courage away but here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Smile at people. A smile acknowledges a person exists and says that you are glad they do. It’s inexpensive but the pay off is great.

2. When a person wears a name tag, refer to him or her by name. Be the first to ask the question at the cash register. Be warm and engaging, treating each person as though they are a friend in the making.

3. Leave early when driving somewhere. When you’re not pressed for time other drivers don’t seem to be so annoying. Be kind, let other drivers in. Assume that those in a hurry or seemingly rude have something hard going on in life and instead of internally flipping them off, take a moment to pray that God would meet them in their need, in their rush and in their pain and intervene.

4. Pray that God would give you a friend who lives a story that you may have prejudices against. It’s amazing what happens when our life crosses paths and friendships are created with those who against whom we hold prejudice. (Here is a great story about just that.)

5. Know someone who struggles financially? Buy them a gift that is not practical. Give them something that says you are worth more than just making it. It could be something as little as flowers or as big as a night in hotel.

6. When you see a person holding a sign asking for money, roll down your window and start a conversation. Acknowledge, smile at and warmly invite the person to conversation that speaks to their personhood.

7. Buy products that give dignity to their workers.

8. Be kind, assume good things, and be generous with your attitudes and beliefs.

9. Tip really well. Tip extravagantly. Over thank and encourage any who serve you. (Simply because we are paying someone for a service doesn’t mean that they have to be perfect. They too may be having a bad day or have just had hard customers. Maybe a relative is going through a difficult time? We don’t know. So instead of complaining and not tipping, tip extra and look your server in the eye and say something like, “I hope your day gets better.”

10. Be a good neighbor, to all of your neighbors. Be a good neighbor to your local businesses, postal workers, lawn care and landscaping workers, the neighbor who hides and the neighbor who knows everyone. Be the kind of neighbor you want.

You and I may not be able to alleviate the worlds darkness on our own, but if we each bring our light and give away light and dignity and courage… the darkness sure dissipates quickly.

How have you seen dignity given away? How have you been given courage? I’d love to learn from you too.

Be you, rabbit trailing and the Kingdom of God

Just-Be-YouToday I sat at my normal table at Solid Grounds where I have set up an ad-hoc office. Through out the day I was interrupted by several people. One woman who also frequents the shop came and checked in. I told her a bit of the goings on of my last week and she wanted me to meet her husband. He and I talked and she mentioned, “tell Larry about your car.” I proceed to tell Larry the story and his demeanor changes when I mention Salina, UT. He proceeds to tell me of similar stories in his life that have take place in the exact spot of my break down. A small part of the story, but an immediate connection was made.

Secondly a young woman who works at the shop stops by my table. She and I talk a bit. She shares a bit of her story and I speak some of the things I’m learning lately. Man, I can be wordy. I say, “We may not get to choose our circumstances, but we always get to choose our response.” Immediately her demeanor changes and tears surface. She mentioned how she needed to hear those words. A random, passing thought, that has come from the past week of my life and just going with my train of thought I was able to encourage another. A sentence, but courage was given.

Lastly a man came and joined me. We started talking about life and such. I was talking with the best of them. All kinds of stories of God’s faithfulness and choosing to risk and trust. I realized I had been talking more than listening and paused for a moment. I said, “That was a lot of talking.” He agreed. Jokingly I said, “Yeah, maybe you sat at the wrong table.” He again paused and said, “maybe I sat at the right one.” He went into his head as he was mulling over all that was discussed. He didn’t speak much, but something happened for him. I don’t know if he needed to be reminded of something or if he was invited into faith in a new way, but we had a holy moment in the middle of the coffee shop. A story or two, and God prompted thoughts of growth and invited us both into deeper dependence.

The mundane of life is never mundane to our Creator. He is strategic, even to the point of allowing my rabbit trails to be words that encourage others, invite others, connect with others. I wonder if rabbit trails and a talkative nature can be gifts of the Spirit? The very thing I would like to be able to change about me, God uses to connect, give hope through, give courage away through.

I’m strangely encouraged today. I feel as though I’ve sat with Jesus and have been able to see others through his eyes. I feel as though we were conspirators today. Conspirators to give hope, courage and life to others through me being…. well… me.

Be you.

As you root yourself in Jesus and entrust him with your very life, be you.

Be completely you.

Be completely solely you, connected to your Savior and watch how God uses all of you for His Kingdom purposes.