Thursday, March 31, 2016

On Kindness

Yesterday morning I walked home from dropping the kids off at school and became consumed with a prayer, one I seem to be praying on rotation: Help me to find meaningful ways to be a better neighbor.

It seems like I should have this figured out by now but honestly, I'm as in the dark as I was three years ago. What I keep coming back to is the simple/profound act of kindness. The key is somewhere in those eight letters - I know it. Nice means saying hello, or maybe smiling. The importance of being nice shouldn't be understated. I've seen for myself how repetitive niceness over time can slowly build to a brand new thing, a relationship maybe, or at least the start of one. Kindness, on the other hand, is weightier. It costs us more. It's looking around, seeing a need, and doing our best to meet it. It's lightening the load, putting my own wishes or plans aside for my neighbor's.

It's a discipline, I think. One I want to master.
I want to truly learn to love kindness.

 

"Kindness is a biblical way of living. It’s a fruit of the Holy Spirit on Paul’s short list in Galatians 5. It’s not a duty or an act. It’s the natural result of the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. We exhale kindness after we inhale what’s been breathed into us by the Spirit. Kindness radiates when we’re earnest about living the way of Christ, the way of the Spirit. Kindness displays the wonder of Christ’s love through us." - Love Kindness by Barry H. Corey

We have a little book that we keep near our kitchen table. It's nothing fancy, one little question for each day of the year. Ideally, we would ask the question every night, jot down our answers, and end up with a cute little family diary of sorts. I'll give you an example.

January 23, 2014 Did anyone bug you today? If so, how?
Ruby - Silas was playing with my stuff.
Calvin - Silas kept getting in my face.
Robert - People be undermining my decisions.
Silas - No.

(By the way, all of ^^ that has me cracking up right now. Oh, January, 2014! You were such a hot mess!)

Though we usually forget to grab it, we've gotten semi-into the habit of pulling it out when company comes, a sort of quirky guest book. Here's another past entry, when two neighbor girls had joined us for dinner.

What do you get to do at someone else's house that you wish you could do at yours?

Calvin -  Play X-box.
Ruby - Play with our cousins.
Silas - Help Ethan's mom cook dinner.
L - Eat dinner together.
D -  Family dinner.

I found this entry last night, having long-forgotten it was there, and wondered for the thousandth time if kindness toward our neighbor doesn't very often begin at our table. It feels so simple, I risk overlooking it. It also feels hard. It feels like risk, and vulnerability. It makes my pits sweaty.

"Kindness is not incompatible with courage." - Love Kindness by Barry H. Corey

We can choose to open the door and wave someone in. We can learn to stretch the soup on a dime. The act of pulling up another chair is the very way of the Spirit alive within us. Why do we so easily forget?

Spring is blowing through town and summer can't be far behind. What if we all committed ourselves to searching out opportunities to show kindness to others around our table? I can't begin to imagine where it might lead, but my heart is racing at the thought.

Summer, 2016 - The Season of Kindness

It has a nice ring to it. What do you think?

"Kindness is radical. It is brave and daring, fearless and courageous, and at times, kindness is dangerous. It has more power to change people than we can imagine. It can break down seemingly impenetrable walls. It can reconcile relationships long thought irreparable. It can empower leaders and break stalemates. It can reconcile nations. Kindness as Jesus lived it is at the heart of peacemaking and has the muscle to move mountains. It’s authentic and not self-serving. Don’t sell kindness short." - Love Kindness by Barry H. Corey


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