– Monday Muse –
Dear One, I remember being told, by someone very wise, that whenever I was asked by a host, or hostess, “May I get you something to drink?“ that I should not decline. That at the very least, I should request a glass of water. He said it was the respectful response to a person’s welcoming offer, and that giving permission to be served is an act of kindness…reverse kindness.
My friend’s suggestion stuck with me. And, over and over again, I have noticed how accepting the offer, opposed to declining it, expels tension and opens the door to relaxed conversation. Occasionally, I have forgotten, and declined, and was reminded by the following few moments of awkwardness. The shadow which falls after a rejected offer, is usually brief, but need not fall at all.
One reason my friend’s suggestion remained with me was the result of a past rejection. My husband, Ron, had just graduated from Central Michigan College, and we were moving out of our married-housing apartment. For the graduation celebration we had been given a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Before driving away, with everything we owned, I knocked on the door of the apartment closest to us, and offered our neighbor the bouquet. With the closing of the door, I was told, “No, thank you.” There I stood, alone in the hallway with my rejected gift in my hand. At that moment, even if the flowers had been immediately thrown in the trash, I sorely wished that they had been accepted. I stood there feeling like I had been slapped in the face.
Yes, I know the slapped-in-the-face feeling, and that is how it felt to me. How did I come to know the feeling? When I was fourteen, I was slapped…by my mother. I deserved it. Mother never had reason to do it again.
I am sure that it was from that ‘bouquet-in-hand’ experience that I wholeheartedly adopted my friend’s admonition to practice reverse kindness. I also apply it to gentleman who are so kind to open doors for women. From me, they always get a smile and a sincere, “Thank you.” At my age, some doors are beginning to seem awfully heavy!
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted…” Ephesians 4:32a
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