Be Kind to Everyone
Last week I wrote about a superb week I had with people. For as lovely as last week was, this week was the opposite. Most of my conversations with people were difficult. Words were said that hurt me and words were overheard that saddened me.
I suppose some would understand if I curled up into a ball for a few minutes of reprieve or developed a bit of a shell to protect myself from pain, but that is not how I am ending the week. All of the hurt I have experienced and observed has done nothing more than make me all the more committed to being kind.
The tagline in the signature of my work e-mail for many years has included an anonymous quote I found while substitute teaching years ago:
Be kind to everyone. You may be the nicest part of someone’s day.
In the past seven days I have watched tears fall from the eyes of a woman who wants to hear her father say he loves her. I have conversed with a woman struggling with an eating disorder. I have listened to the pain of women struggling in marriage. I have supported a friend dealing with church conflict and strain. I have listened to the pain of a woman who has been downright wronged by a man and unjustly treated. I have exchanged texts with a friend about the adoption of a little boy in foster care while nearly every member of her family is actively involved in a health issue. I have received a call from a dear relative who took a terrible fall. Sadly, this is not even close to a comprehensive list.
You have the same kind of list, don’t you?
I am continually astounded by what I discover if I just talk with someone for more that one minute. I find out the person I am speaking with just had an automobile accident on the way to their meeting with me. I find out that underneath the clothing someone is wearing bruises created from a mother. I find out the person who looks like they are taking advantage of a handicapped sticker on their car (because they walk just fine) is a bone cancer survivor.
When, oh when, will every word out of my mouth be kind?
When will I always think the best of someone and never the worst? When will I always have a soft heart toward someone and never a hardened one?
I will tell you when.
First: when I figure out that every person on the globe has a difficult life behind what I am able to see.
I have made miles of progress in this area but clearly have a ways to go.
Second: when God gets all of my heart; When the Holy Spirit gets every molecule of my insides.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
If my heart is clean and my relationship with God is close, then the Holy Spirit will be kind to every person on the globe through me.
One happy memory of kindness this week came from a student who stopped me after class and gushed praise for a particular characteristic she says she sees in me…patience. What she doesn’t know yet is that she sees the fruit of the Spirit, not the fruit of me. That night I was crabby with my son and thought, “If only that student could see me now.”
But her words encouraged me and I drew upon them the next day when someone else’s words cut me deeply.
After the words that hurt me this week. After the tears I have shed on behalf of others. After watching the teardrops of others fall from pained eyes…
- I am not hardened, but softened.
- I am not discouraged, but all the more motivated.
I. Want. To. Be. Kind.
For whatever reason this month has sensitized me to pain and I want to give the world a hug. I am a weepy mess about it all and from a physical ache in my heart comes this prayer:
Oh Lord, may I assume that everyone I interact with has a difficult life and may I use my interactions with people as an opportunity to give them a glimpse of God. I am not God, of course, but the Holy Spirit of God dwells inside of me. Spirit, pour out. May I die to everything about myself so You can live the full expression of Yourself.
My favorite part of yesterday was when I picked my son up from school and he ran into my arms. He is getting older now and that is not happening much any more. In the five seconds of watching him rush toward me smiling from ear-to-ear, time stood still. Lord, You hit the pause button for me and shared delight. Thank you for those precious seconds.
Today I run into Your arms because you are my only hope. I cannot love people, have joy, experience peace, exercise patience, be kind, be good, conduct myself with gentleness or live a life of self-control. I cannot pull off those character traits on a good day let alone amid the pain I see and experience.
Only you can be kind because kindness is your fruit, not mine.
P.S. – 22 years ago this morning, one beautiful girl was born at 5:56 a.m. and another beautiful girl followed 17 minutes later at 6:13 a.m. Today I will be busy celebrating these two gifts from God. I cannot believe I get to be their mom.
The pictures below were taken in their “time to go home now” outfits. Every single time God has allowed them to come home safely since, I have been grateful.
© 2015 by Oaks Ministries. All rights reserved