When you think of the word kindness what pops into your mind? It is a person? A situation? Or maybe a feeling that has left your heart well-cared for or a gesture someone has performed that felt so thoughtful that it’s stuck with you.
When you look up the word kindness in the dictionary, this is what it says:
- the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
- warm-heartedness, tender heartedness, goodwill, affection, warmth, gentleness, tenderness, concern, care, consideration, considerateness, helpfulness, thoughtfulness, unselfishness, selflessness, altruism, compassion, sympathy, understanding, big-heartedness, benevolence, friendliness, neighborliness, hospitality, amiability, courteousness, public-spiritedness, generosity, magnanimity, indulgence, patience, tolerance, charitableness, graciousness, lenience, humaneness, mercifulness, decency, bounteousness
- a kind act.
- service, good deed, favor, act of assistance, help, aid
Dang, that’s quite a list! I think the topic of kindness is an important one always, but especially today. In our society, it’s seems we have somehow gotten away from these basic necessities and replaced them with opposing thoughts and ideas. Maybe not even intentionally, but none-the-less, it’s happened.
Things like thinking of your own best interest and needs and those taking place and top priority over others best interest or needs. And don’t mistake me, I’m not taking about self-care or healthy boundaries here. In my book, those are always important and absolutely needed. But what I am talking about is when a person is selfishly looking towards their own benefit and not considering how it affects others. Why has this become common-place? Are we all really so afraid that if we don’t look out for ourselves we won’t be taken care of and that our needs won’t be met. I think that’s a very real fear for many people and each and every time one person thinks of themself instead of considering another, it then causes a ripple affect where that person also fears that their needs are not going to be met, and so they do the same thing and it becomes a vicious cycle where everyone is looking out for themselves and no one is looking out for their neighbor.
This seems to be the way in relationships today too. This swipe right idea is, if you don’t meet my instant need for gratification, if you don’t look the way I like or the way I think you should look, if you aren’t hot enough, then I’m not wasting my time with you (so NOT kind), so I’ll just swipe left and be on my merry way. Now that doesn’t mean you can’t have preferences, but it does mean that you aren’t taking the time to value another individual as a human person with feelings and needs and desires enough to get to know more about some of those things under the surface before you determine whether or not they are “valuable enough” to be worth your time.
This happens in work scenarios. If you’re in a competitive industry, it’s usually about who you are willing to step on in order to make it to the top and nine times out of ten, it’s looked at as the typical, necessary, normal thing to do or that you’re just being a hard worker who’s trying to get a leg up. And a lot of those who are working their way to the top, aren’t concerned about who they are hurting or burning along the way, as long as they reach their goal. Again, a me-centered mentality.
This year in particular there have been a ton of areas where kindness has been lacking. In the political arena, with the amount of racial hatred going around, with the ways people are speaking harshly to each other behind their computer screens and phone screens and even worse, spewing hatred straight to each others faces. This pandemic has stirred up a lot of fear and a lot of anger and that has led to a lot of people doing whatever they want for themselves, instead of maybe considering others through this process. Where has all the kindness gooooonnnneee….that makes me think of that song, “Where have all the cowboys gooooonnnneee?” Where was I? Oh yes, where has all the kindness gone?
I think when we get tired, we have less bandwidth and our kindness is one of the first things to go. But this friends, this is NOT what kindness looks like. The definition literally covers everything from warmth and gentleness, to sympathy and tolerance, understanding and patience, to generosity and bounteousness. When is the last time you felt this all-encompassing kindness in, through, or from another person. Hopefully more frequently than I imagine. Or a better question is when is the last time you displayed this kind of kindness to someone in your life, or better yet, a stranger?
It’s easy for us to point the finger at someone else and say, “If only they would ________________________. But it starts with ourselves. We aren’t in control of anyone else and their attitudes and behaviors, but we are in control of our own. And when we start with us, there’s a ripple affect that pours over to the people around us, and so forth.
When there is a lack of kindness, it affects not only every person we come in contact with but also every other area of our lives. Have you ever noticed that? It affects our moods, our work ethic and our ability to get things done, our self-esteem and confidence, our ability to be a support to each other and extend grace to one another, our ability to view the world from an optimistic point of view instead of a pessimistic one, and the list is truly endless. It affects our whole personhood and that is a dangerous thing to mess with.
I think we need to ask ourselves, what does the world look like when kindness prevails and isn’t that the world we want to be living in? When kindness prevails, people are changed. Lives are changed. Compassion and love thrive. A sense of generosity and helpfulness reign. Gratitude is a given. And when kindness prevails, that’s when we are truly living and breathing in what the Lord created and intended community to look like. What He intended brotherly agape love to look like.
We’ve got to get away from where we currently are and move back into what we were all taught as children. To be kind, to play well with others, to share, the golden rule of treating others the way you’d like to be treated. Because as silly as it is, we knew these things as children and yet we’ve grown up and lost them. We’ve forgotten them. We think we’ve outgrown them or there isn’t space for that anymore, but if we can strip all of that ugliness away and get back to the basics, that’s where peace comes in, that’s where we’re going to thrive and grow as a society instead of using and abusing each other.
Take me back to the good old days, because that’s what kindness looks like and man, do I miss it something awful.