Choosing Kindness

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23 

 

Have you read the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio? I read it to my students this past school year.  It is an incredible novel about a boy born with Treacher Collins Syndrome ( http://www.treachercollins.org/tcs/Welcome.html ).  Auggie is a sixth grader entering school for the first time in his life.  His severe facial deformity makes him the center of attention wherever he goes. The themes of bullying and kindness are throughout the book.

This book centered my thoughts on kindness.  “Be kind” became my tag line.  “Be kind” just sounds so powerful!

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I questioned why people don’t  see the power of kindness.  Why don’t people understand the difference they can make in someone’s life…in EVERYONE’S life…by choosing kindness? Why are people unkind??

Then I had a realization.  Kindness isn’t just this thing that is easy to conjure up.  Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit.  My perspective shifted.  There are nine fruits listed. How selective are we at nurturing the fruits of the Spirit? What exactly is kindness? Isn’t kindness just a fancier way of saying be nice?

So…I GOOGLED it!

Strong’s #5544: Kindness is goodness in action, sweetness of disposition, gentleness in dealing with others, benevolence, kindness, affability. The word describes the ability to act for the welfare of those taxing your patience. The Holy Spirit removes abrasive qualities from the character of one under His control. 

Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respecting and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what. (wikipedia.org)

Let me get this straight.  I can be kind without being nice. Nice is defined as agreeable.  I don’t have to agree with someone to be kind.  In fact, I don’t even have to be friends with someone, I don’t even have to KNOW someone to be kind.  I just need to look for or be open to opportunities to do something for someone without expecting (or desiring) them to return the kindness.  And, here’s the GREAT thing about being kind, I have the ability to be kind because I am a Christian…because Christ in me gives me the strength to do all things.  Kindness is evidence that I am walking with Jesus.

I have decided to nurture the fruit of kindness this summer.  My goal is to complete 30 Acts of Kindness this summer.  They will not be random, though I will welcome opportunities to do random acts of kindness. My 30 Acts of Kindness will be INTENTIONAL . I have started 2.  I am going to share this experience, not to say, “Look at me!  I’m so kind!” but to say, “We can make a difference, brothers and sisters! Let’s choose kindness!”

Number 1 Act of Kindness:

Summertime is usually a time of reorganizing, redecorating, and rethinking the things I need and don’t need.  I have lots of games, puzzles, and movies that we never use.  Someone could be using these!  So I gathered up some movies, games, and puzzles.  I plan to take them to people who can use them.  I made my first delivery to the Summer Childcare Program at Mt. Energy Elementary School.  I gave them some movies, a game or two, and a puzzle.

Number 2 Act of Kindness:

While I was shopping at Walmart last week, I noticed they had Crayola Crayons (The best!) on sale.  I bought several boxes.  I keep one box in my purse at all times and look for opportunities to bless a little child.  It’s such a small thing, but I remember the joy of receiving a new box of crayons when I was a kid.  I still see that same joy on the faces of my students when they open their new crayons on the first day of school. I found my first recipient while I was thrift store shopping with a friend at Good Will.  This beautiful little girl was probably about 5.  I imagine she might start kindergarten this year. She spoke no English.  I first saw her as she was riding the mechanical horsey at the front of the store. Her mom spoke a little English, and I was able to get her approval to give her the crayons.  The girl smiled from ear to ear and went running to her other relatives to show them.  Later I snapped her picture in the parking lot, still holding on to the the crayons.

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Father, thank you being my strength.  Thank you for your word!  Walking with you isn’t dull or burdensome.  You have assured us that your yoke is easy, and your burden is light.  

While You’re Waiting

“But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.”

                            Isaiah 40:31

From the moment I found out I was pregnant, my life was changed.  I was focused on preparing for my baby.  I worked to take care of myself.  I decorated the nursery and got clothes, diapers, a bed…everything I needed to care for my child. But I’ve got to say, it seemed like a long wait.  Especially the last few weeks!

Do you ever feel like you spend a lot of time waiting?  In line at the grocery store. At the drive-thru at McDonald’s.  Waiting for a phone call.  Waiting for your spouse to get ready. (Okay, he waits for me most of the time!) In the doctor’s office they even call it “The Waiting Room.”

One study says that people spend an average of 6 months of their lives just waiting in lines.

Christians frequently express their faith by saying, “I’m waiting on the Lord.”  But we often say this with a heavy heart.  Because, really, if we’re honest, it’s hard to wait.

BUT….

If we understand Isaiah 40:31, we might see waiting a bit differently.

Isaiah 40:31 is a promise.  It begins with a condition. “Those who wait upon the Lord…” will receive the promise.

In Hebrew, the word wait from Isaiah 40:31 is considered an active verb by many scholars.  The idea is that I am waiting expectantly, eagerly watching. Picture a waiter, prepared for service, notebook and pencil in hand, waiting by the restaurant door, expecting a customer at any second.  The opposite of that, passively waiting, might look like this:  A waiter, reluctantly goes into the restaurant, lays his notebook and his uniform on a back table and sits down.  He’ll get up if a customer comes in.

Wait expectantly!!!

Just like when I was pregnant all those years ago. Never once during the waiting did I forget that baby. I was eager to see his face and hold him in my arms.  He was on the way. I was EXPECTING!

“Lord, help us to focus on you during our times of waiting.  May we wait eagerly, with expectation!”