A Coffee and Some Hearts Friday
It’s amazing to me, what is discovered to be in a person’s heart when filters and masks are stripped away. What sort of kindnesses and happy memories, grudges and regrets are deeply rooted in and now being revealed? As I once heard someone say when someone close to them had their mind clouded by sickness, “I know they’re not in their right mind as they say such hurtful things. But those thoughts, now words, had to come from somewhere inside them.”
And it gets me to thinking – what would be revealed to be my true self if I were no longer able to hold my tongue to the (sometimes not all that great) extent that I do? Would I be kind and loving? Or mean and bitter? Because I know how sarcastic I can be, what unkind assumptions I can make, how much un-loveliness can swirl within me. It saddens me think how much I could possibly hurt those nearest and dearest to me.
This week I finally watched a TEDtalks video recommended to me by an acquaintance whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease. The talk in question was given by Alanna Shaikh whose father has Alzheimer’s, and she shares how he is still a person everyone wants to be with, from the family he no longer remembers to the people who help care for him. Why? As Alanna shares, it is because he is, at his core, a kind and loving man. “When you take away everything that he ever learned in this world,” she says of her father who was a bilingual college professor, “his naked heart still shines.” So she, too, is making sure her naked heart will shine beautifully should she, too, suffer from this disease. “I need a heart so pure,” Alanna goes on to say, “that if it’s stripped bare by dementia, it will survive.” (You can watch her TEDtalks here, and I encourage you to take the 6 minutes and 27 seconds to watch it.)
Alanna’s story got me to thinking of Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi, penned in about 62 A.D. while he was in prison and anticipating his release. In it, he gives the following instructions:
Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let everyone come to know your gentleness. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things.
-Philippians 4: 4-8 (MEV)
And I realize this: If I get the things which are honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, of virtue and worthy of praise deep in my heart then what comes out of this mouth will be all those things, too. I’ll have a pure heart.
So let’s do this together, shall we? Let’s do what we need to do so, at our very core, we will be truly kind and loving people. Not out of a fear (or even a certainty) of future illnesses and the like, but because it will do our hearts and the hearts of those around us good to be spreading such things in our respective corners of the world.