Last year, I was enchanted by the new Cinderella…I felt it was a beautiful version of the princess that was my favorite as a child. One of the things I loved about the rendition of Cinderella’s character was her kindness. It was a value placed upon her by her mother, “I have to tell you a secret that will see you through all the trials that life can offer. Have courage and be kind.”
Love is Kind.
When I think about the things that we attempt to teach our children, first would be patience. But a close second is kindness. I don’t know about you, but when I try to explain concepts to my kids, sometimes I come up short with how to explain it. But whenever I think of kindness, I automatically think of love. The dictionary defines “kind” as: “having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.”
I appreciate how it distinguishes between having and showing. Don’t we all have moments where we do not want to be kind? To the rude waiter at the restaurant. To the person who cuts us off to steal our parking space. To the judgmental eyes at the grocery store as my child wails in the grocery cart. Being kind doesn’t always come naturally…to me at least!
But by definition, kindness is choosing to show friendliness, generosity, or consideration for another. You know, the above examples I just wrote are all of people outside of our homes. But what about kindness to those we are with daily? Our kids who drive us nuts sometimes? Our husbands or wives who rub us the wrong way before we’ve had our cup of coffee? Our co-worker friend who does something that hurts or annoys us? What about then?
How can we apply this to our relationship with: God?
This one is tricky. How does one show kindness to God? I would venture to say that kindness towards God means appreciating Him as friend. Kindness towards God means living in generosity to His people and kingdom. And kindness towards God means living in consideration of Him and His kingdom.
Maybe kindness to God means responding to His kindness. “…God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance…” (Romans 2:4) Maybe our mirroring of God’s kindness to others means that we extend His forgiveness to them as well? What do you think?
How can we apply this to our relationship with: others?
When my husband and I were dating, I remember one moment that changed my perspective forever. We were hanging out at my house (I still lived at home with my parents and two younger sisters), and I had gotten particularly irritated with someone in my house. I responded to them in a snappy way and said something sarcastic and hurtful. My husband (then boyfriend) quietly said to me, “Are you going to talk to me like that someday?” Woah. That moment revealed some ugliness in my heart that I hadn’t recognized and my husband gently pointed out.
After that, I tried to be more mindful of my responses (and failed often!), but as life circumstances change, I notice the value of kindness more and more. When I had kids, I desired that kindness would be a characteristic in them. As they start going to school, I desire kindness in their friends and teachers. And I even notice the value of kindness in my overall health. Being mean, snappy, impatient, etc. is taxing on your body!
Kindness is a pretty easy one to apply to others, but what are some unique ways you’ve seen kindness explained or displayed?
How can we apply this to our relationship with: ourselves?
I was sitting eating lunch with my two supervisors. They were celebrating me having finished my internship and offered me a position at their private therapy practice. I was soaking up their wisdom and loving words. As a new therapist, I long to learn from those who’ve paved the way before me, so I asked, “When you think about yourself years ago when you were in my position, a new therapist embarking fresh and new on the field, what would you say to her? What would you say to yourself if you could talk to your self back then?” They both smiled. They had lots of wisdom to share…and one thing that stuck out to me was when one of my supervisors responded with emotion in her voice and a quiver of the chin, “I would have told her to be kind to yourself.”
That moment has played in my mind several times since she said that weeks ago. In moments where I feel inadequate. Be kind to yourself. In moments where I mess up and the shame messages start playing in my mind. Be kind to yourself. In moments where I want to push myself to do more and be more. Be kind to yourself.
I truly believe God wants us to live selflessly, yes. But I also think he values self care. Loving our bodies. Caring for ourselves. I mean, he did create Sabbath, right? I’ve tried to embrace this concept of self care more this year. Doing things that bring me joy and life. Being kind to this self that God gave me. So while you’re being kind to others and practicing kindness with God, don’t forget to care for you. She needs it too. xo