I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be kind.
As we get deeper and deeper into this intense political season where passions run high and tempers are quick to flare, I’ve heard a number of people imploring us all to be kind. It seems like good advice on its surface. I strongly believe my social media feed would benefit from more kindness and less outrage.
But what does it mean to be kind in a raging world?
As I attempted to think of a moment my own life to illustrate kindness, I was overwhelmed with so many examples I wasn’t even sure how to pick the best one.
I could tell you about the time my mother-in-law spent two days meticulously cleaning our house after the moving truck came to Berkeley. Using a toothbrush to make things sparkle I didn’t even know were capable of sparkling.
I could tell you about how the friend who brought our family a meal every week for a few months so I could catch my breath in a season of getting adjusted to a new place and managing a small baby and a toddler.
I could tell you about the kindness of the man on the plane a few weeks ago, who moved to a middle seat so that my one-year-old could have his own seat instead of being my lap infant (which is a joke anyway because, at eight months pregnant, I have very little lap and at nearly 22-months-old, he’s hardly an infant).
Even as I started to think of this list, I realized all of us have our own moments and stories where we’ve experienced kindness in important ways. In fact, it might be worth it to think about those for a moment. Really. Close your eyes right there at your phone or your computer and let yourself enjoy it, remembering moments, people and places where you were well cared for, where people were friendly, generous, considerate to you.
I want you to remember what it feels like to receive kindness.
Isn’t it fun to remember?
Doesn’t it make you smile, fill you up, want to tell someone your good story? Remembering how it feels to receive kindness inspires me to want to practice more of it in my life.
And that’s what kindness is, it’s a practice. Kindness is a quality of the heart, it’s something we need to be. But in addition to being – kindness is something we do. Kindness invites us to action.
At it's root, kindness means to be useful. To see a need and meet it. To look for ways to be helpful.
We can do that. As Christians we can be kind because we’ve all received such kindness from God, whose kindness moved Him to give us Jesus, that we might know God and enjoy Him forever. Jesus shows one piece of kindness.
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Luke 6:35
We’re not kind to get kindness, we’re kind because the Holy Spirit is shaping us into people who are more like Jesus. Jesus showed us kindness even when we could have cared less, even when we treated Him with contempt. His kindness is what leads us to repentance, his practical love helps us understand a God who created us to be kind to each other.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Look for the places in your everyday life where you can be useful. It could be as small as holding the door and as big as giving away something that really matters to you. It’s the Jesus way, and it might just change this loud and fearful world, one kind act at a time.
This post originally appeared at Middle Places.