Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

How to be Kind in a Raging World

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

I'm back at Middle Places with some thoughts on kindness, including politics, scrubbing bathrooms and crying babies on airplanes...

I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be kind.

As we get deeper and deeper into this intense political season where passions run high and tempers are quick to flare, I’ve heard a number of people imploring us all to be kind. It seems like good advice on its surface. I strongly believe my social media feed would benefit from more kindness and less outrage.

But what does it mean to be kind in a raging world?

As I attempted to think of a moment my own life to illustrate kindness, I was overwhelmed with so many examples I wasn’t even sure how to pick the best one.

I could tell you about the time my mother-in-law spent two days meticulously cleaning our house after the moving truck came to Berkeley. Using a toothbrush to make things sparkle I didn’t even know were capable of sparkling.

I could tell you about how the friend who brought our family a meal every week for a few months so I could catch my breath in a season of getting adjusted to a new place and managing a small baby and a toddler.

I could tell you about the kindness of the man on the plane a few weeks ago, who moved to a middle seat so that my one-year-old could have his own seat instead of being my lap infant (which is a joke anyway because, at eight months pregnant, I have very little lap and at nearly 22-months-old, he’s hardly an infant).

Even as I started to think of this list, I realized all of us have our own moments and stories where we’ve experienced kindness in important ways. In fact, it might be worth it to think about those for a moment. Really. Close your eyes right there at your phone or your computer and let yourself enjoy it, remembering moments, people and places where you were well cared for, where people were friendly, generous, considerate to you.

I want you to remember what it feels like to receive kindness.

Isn’t it fun to remember?

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How to Say the Kindest "No"

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

True confession: I really like to say yes.

When someone asks me for something, I always want to give them what they want. Saying “yes” makes me feel important and needed. My friend Stephanie calls it “Oprahing”:

You get a yes. And you get a yes. And you get a yes. Yeses for everyone!

All this Oprahing in my own life feels great for awhile. When everyone delights in my willingness to bring muffins and watch their kids and lead the adult Sunday School class. But eventually, when my yeses get out of control, I’m left exhausted, resentful and overwhelmed...

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When Learning Looks Like Failing

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

Over at Middle Places, we're thinking about learning this month. Turns out, my own learning hasn't been pretty lately...

Learning looks a lot like failing right now.

Like when I tried to teach a new song to kids at our church's VBS program last month. I hadn't practiced the motions before I started and ended up tripping myself and tumbling dramatically to the carpet. Much to the delight of the assembled four-year-olds watching my slow motion dance-tastrophe. 

Or the long strange silence reverberating through the sanctuary on a Sunday in June. The room should have been filled with the sound of the congregation reciting the Apostle's Creed. Except I assisted in worship and forgot what came next. Just totally forgot, even though I held the program in my hand. The silence might have gone on forever had the choir leader not stood up from his seat in the loft and prompted me that now would be a good time to affirm our faith together. In my flustered state, I called for the offering instead.

Nothing like standing up in front of 500 people and getting it all wrong...

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The Beautiful Gift of the Multi-Generational Church

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

I'm back at iBelieve this month with thoughts on being an multi-generational church...

One of the unique gifts of a local church is the chance to develop relationships with people who are older and younger than us. This is especially true in a world where so many live miles from extended family and our jobs and hobbies often tend to sort us into groups of people of similar ages and life stages. It is good for us to worship together, to offer leadership to the younger among us, to learn to listen to our elders, to take the lessons of their lives and allow our own to be shaped.

I made a new friend at my church last year – who, at more than 80 years old, has lived twice as long as I have. We’ve gotten to know each other over Bible study sessions and lunches together and I’ve been so challenged in my faith listening to her stories about her life. In the 1960s, she and her husband developed a ministry to homeless people and transients, offering things like showers, haircuts and access to typewriters to make resumes back before the town where we live offered any services of this kind. Listening to her stories is inspiring and has caused me to think deeply about my own choices to care for those around me. Not only that, she’s loved me so well as a friend. When I unexpectedly miscarried a baby in the fall, not only did she pray for me, she sent a special Bible verse in the mail, reminding me of God’s care in that hard season.

Continue reading at iBelieve.com by clicking here

Peculiar People Resist

Lindsey SmallwoodComment

Our church, First Presbyterian Church of Boulder, spent this summer going through the book of 1 Peter, a dense letter written to a church facing times of trials and change. I had the joy on concluding the series on being "Peculiar People" called together with a look at chapter 5, on learning from different generations, resisting evil and standing firm in the faith.

The full sermon is available below for streaming or download.