I bet if I ask you, "Do you know someone who is thoughtless in your life?" Instantly a face or two will pop to the front of your mind. Likewise if I asked you "Is there someone who comes to mind that is thoughtful?" There wil be one or two people that will come to mind who have touched your life and your heart by this very special trait. I’ve been thinking about the difference between the two and how I can become more and more thoughtful as the years go by.
Some of the traits that thoughtful people have are these: Thoughtful people have full lives, but there’s still always room in their life for you. They are busy, but not too busy to make a call to see how you’re doing or if they can help when you’re in need. Thoughtful people do little things that show they care… they put themselves in your shoes and think what would be helpful, encouraging or in some small way make your life brighter or easier.
Thoughtless people aren’t usually "bad" people, they just don’t think. They don’t put themselves in anyone else’s shoes and think how their behavior affects anyone else in their lives. Thoughtless people are often consumed by their own lives. They are busy. They are overwhelmed, and often are in chaos. Most often they just aren’t even aware that other people around them have needs. If they think about doing something, they rarely actually take a tangible step to follow through.
In all honesty it doesn’t take that much time to be thoughtful. Small consistent gestures make a big impact in friendships and relationships. Email has given us an almost instant and very quick way to let friends and family know that we’re thinking of them. A quick note, one or two minutes even spent writing a paragraph or two can make someone’s day!
Thoughtful people have developed the ability to "have the thought"… they notice others, they aren’t wrapped up in their own world. They’ve discovered the incredible joy of being a blessing to others and most thoughtful people couldn’t imagine living any other way. The thoughtless person is handicapped in that the "thought" doesn’t occur to them so it’s impossible to be "thoughful."
Thoughtfulness is a learned behavior that can be taught. If you have children or grandchildren, this is an area that takes time and persistence to develop, but makes so much difference in a family. Asking children questions such as "How do you think Mrs. Smith feels since her husband died and what do you think she would like us to do for her to make her feel a little better?" "Susie broke her arm and can’t go play in the snow with all the neighbor kids, do you have any ideas of how we can make a special play day with her?" I’ve learned that when I asked my children and made them think through what a good answer would be, they remembered the lesson better than when I just told them what to do. Also, I found that when I emphasized a character trait over and over they began to understand and apply it in their lives. As a mom, I tried to spend more time teaching them good behaviors than just getting on them for bad behaviors over and over.
The holidays are a great time to exercise the "thoughtfulness" muscle (in ourselves and in our children!) Take a moment and think about someone in your life that a thoughtful gesture might really encourage. Is there someone who has lost a loved one this year? Is there someone that is experiencing depression or struggling financially? What about a family member who might be struggling with a too-busy schedule?
One great thing about thoughfulness is that it often takes no money at all to be thoughtful! If there’s a young mother, maybe even a young single mother in your community perhaps you can call and offer to watch her children for her one day this Thanksgiving or Christmas season to let her have a day to shop all alone. Perhaps an older person that you know might not have the energy to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, but would love to be included in your family’s celebration. Is there a military wife that could use some help around the house with maintenance?
The most thoughtful gestures of all are totally unexpected and not even tied to a particular date or occasion, they’re "Just because I thought of you…" Those of you that create your own greeting cards have an incredible resource at your fingertips! Play with your graphics and make cards and envelopes in advance, so that they are as easy as an email to send off. Buy a book of stamps and when you think of someone over the next few weeks take that thought one step further to THOUGHTFULNESS and take five minutes to write a personal note.
If you wrestle with depression, developing your thoughtfulness muscles can become a powerful weapon to destroy the stronghold that depression can have in your life. Depressed people have a hard time thinking about others at times, but people who think of and connect with other are rarely depressed in a debilitating way. Even if you don’t "feel" cheerful, you can write a cheerful message to someone you know is struggling more than you are. You would be amazed how an act of kindness can make your own heart soar! How strong is your "thoughtfulness" muscle? Mine needs some more regular workouts 🙂
THE SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY: Col 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. NIV
COMMENT: I love the imagery "clothe yourself." It’s an action and a choice. Put on patience like you put on a warm scarf when it’s going to be cold. Decide to be gentle like you put on rubber boots when you go out into the rain! God gives us the "clothes" but we need to choose to put them on!