In the last four weeks we’ve talked about receiving God’s kindness, being kind to ourselves, being kind to others, and receiving other’s kindness. I’m going to finish out this month of kindness with a story. It won’t surprise you, I’m sure, that it’s about my mother. (If you know me, you know my mom passed away in September.) Over a lifetime she learned all of the aspects of kindness I’ve mentioned.
Discord, anger, tension, cruelty, sarcasm, or strife caused her pain. Her heart soaked up drops of gracious beauty with a thirst akin to drought burdened soil waiting for the downpour.
At times I watched her draw in her heart, flinching with fear at the fast paced expectation of the world. It’s loud voice yelling be, do, learn, know, perform. She was just a wife, just a mom. But how can you just be anything extraordinary? You have to work at that. And she did.
It took her a long time to learn how to be kind to herself. A long time to recognize that until she had right expectations of herself it would be hard to have right expectations of anyone in her world. But, God is kindness itself. He took the time to teach her. And when she did learn that lesson, her naturally peaceful, quiet, courteous, beauty loving heart turned into a force of nature.
A force that stood up in the face of the loss, neglect, ignorance, selfishness, brokenness, and abandonment she found in others. She smoothed out rough feathers and quenched fire with a word. She could do that without fear or threat to herself because she knew who she belonged to. She knew she was loved. She had learned kindness at the core level.
I know I’ve worried her, watching me dance and leap and run and pout trying to figure out who to be. She tried to tell me, you’re extraordinary, you’re a mom, you’re a leader, you’re wonderful just being you. But I have listened too often to the fast paced expectation of the world; be, do, learn, know, perform. In part because I saw her struggle with not being enough. I wanted to be more, for her, because she never felt she could be. But that’s a lie too. That’s not what kindness says, that’s not what she really wanted.
Now I know the truth. Even though I have imagined conversing with great minds, writing award winning words, inspiring thousands of people, the truth is – none of that is enough. At the end. When I slip from this world and am measured against eternity I want one word to define me. Kindness. People could say all sorts of things about me but as long as they can say I’m kind, it’s enough.
And now I have the hard task ahead of learning that lesson. To put down rocks of judgement. To elevate the life of another over my own. To have the power of love lit in my heart so that kindness becomes a force of nature, able to stand in the face of misunderstanding, injustice, fear, pride, longing, and even whining.
My mother was kind. I want to be like her when I grow up.
Who do you know that is kind, who has the well-being and good of others in mind? How have they impacted you?
Father, thank you for the kindness of your Son. He is our ultimate inspiration. Thank you too for the truly kind people you have put in our lives. We want to be like them. We’ve received encouragement, forgiveness, and hope at their hands and we want to turn around and give it away ourselves. Ignite your kind nature in our hearts we pray. Amen.