Kindness is not my first response in life; in fact, it’s not even in my top three. Oh sure, when someone has been kind to me first, I can do it back. When I see a baby–or a puppy for that matter–of course I’m a big pile of loving mush. But that’s not what I’m talking about . . .
When things go wrong, when life is hard, when someone doesn’t use their blinker or when my kids leave apple cores on my good new end tables–I do not naturally respond with kindness. No, it’s more like withering sarcasm, eye-rolling impatience, rapid-fire anger, or the screaming mimi’s. That’s me in my natural state.
But, I don’t want to be like that. I want to be kind. I want to be gracious. I want to be the peacemaker, not the flamethrower. It’s taken me a lot of years to get to this point. I used to justify my reactions, calling myself a “spitfire” or something equally spunky. I claimed to love the smell of napalm in the morning. But, really, I just was too lazy to change.
Now, I’m older–and I’ve seen over 40 years of the effects of anger, sarcasm, and harshness that comes from my mouth. The sadness in my kids’ eyes. The hurt in my husband’s. The unneccessary “misunderstandings” with friends and co-workers because of something harsh I’ve said. Frankly, it’s not remotely pretty. That is not where love is–and I want to be where love is.
One of my eartly heroes passed away this past weekend. Kara Tippetts was as gracious in death as she was in life. Even in her final days, in the confines of a hospital bed in her bedroom, she was able to speak about love and kindness in the hardest and darkest of places. She lived and died the love of Christ–until she was face to face with Him.
I want to be like that. When you read account after account of Kara–from friends, loved ones, even newspaper reporters–two words continually come up: gracious and kind. Kara’s own husband used those words to describe his wife. Wow, think about that . . . the people closest to you describing you like that. The people that see the REAL you–calling you gracious and kind. Just wow.
If your family and friends and co-workers had just two words to describe you, what would they be?
Quiet, shy, loud, aggressive, funny, smart, godly, sweet, content, gracious, kind . . . . ?
How do you feel about those two words? “Your” words. Are they good ones? No? Hey, I understand–mine aren’t too great, either.
So what are you (and I!) going to do to change that?
I know we can change our words with the Lord’s help–He says so in the book of Romans. In fact, we aren’t given the choice. We’re told to be “transformed” by the “renewing” of our mind.