Kindness has many faces, many forms, but essentially kindness is love in action.
What is always true of kindness is that it touches hearts and communicates worth.
And when my family filled out little notes for my mom this past Mother’s Day, thanking her for the many ways she has touched our lives, I realized that we were basically thanking her for a world of kindnesses.
Thank you, Grandma, for staying home and decorating the Christmas tree with me while everyone else went to the soccer tournament.
Thank you, Mom, for rubbing my legs at night when I had those horrid growing pains as a kid.
Thank you, Grandma, for fixing me grilled cheese sandwiches and lemonade.
Thank you, Mom, for pulling Chloe in that little red wagon, doing lap after lap around the hem-onc floor at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
Thank you, Grandma, for reading me my favorite books when I was little.
Thank you, Mom, for teaching me to drive stick.
Thank you, Mom (this from my brother), for loving my pets as if they were your own kids.
Of course, I’m doubly blessed, because I have my birth mother as well. She’s treated us to all sorts of fun things, but more than that, she too is a model of someone who practices kindness by visiting friends who are ill or in need, taking chicken soup or other goodies to those who need a boost for their bodies or souls, and generously sharing her many talents in photography and gardening.
It’s what John in his letters tells us is so integral to authentic faith, what he says shows the world the truth of who God is.
It’s what reminds the people around us that there’s a God who loves them. And don’t we all need to be reminded of that enduring truth?
Yet it can be easy to fall into habits of harsh words or bitter, critical spirits.
It can be hard to be the sort of person I aspire to be, someone who lovingly seeks to refresh the souls of those around me with a word of encouragement, a smile, or a kind deed.
Yet God….Yet God showed His love for us by embracing us at our worst, when He of all beings could have simply resorted to anger and criticism. And He tells me to be strong not in my own goodness or kindness but rather to be strong in His grace, trusting that the One who is kind beyond all measure will fill me to overflowing with that same lovingkindness.
And so I take a few steps. I smile because I know He is good and because my family needs the warmth of my smile. I do little things like fold clothes that someone else left in the dryer simply because I want to bless my loved ones. And I pray that God will open my eyes to ways in which to not necessarily do more but be more–be more thoughtful, gentle, considerate. I do this not because I’m avoiding the teaching of responsibility but because I want my family to know that they have worth, worth in my eyes and in the eyes of the God who loves them.