Love is kind. Kind? When I first hear the word kind, I think of nice and pleasant. My thesaurus comes up with cordial and courteous. So now I am picturing the behavior I would want to display should I ever get to play the part of Cinderella at the royal ball. It sounds lovely. But it does not necessarily sound loving.
Lovely but not loving…
There is real power in love. Love is so much more than a cute crush; love can be weapon against the evil of our world. So if the Word of God, says ‘love is kind,’ then I have got to get a better definition of kind.
Kindness has to go beyond emotions like sympathy or pity and it must become an action. It might only involve words, but those words must be powerful. Love’s kindness is not insignificant.
For me, for now, I interpret love’s kindness as a move to expand someone’s circle by at least one person, in order to usher in healing. Kindness will be the effort placed forward to eliminate isolation, and bring forth solidarity. Simply put, my new mantra for kindness will be ‘Plus One!’
I ‘Plus One’ a lot while I invest in young women through my work or my church… You are not the only one to have this happen to you; it’s normal… It makes sense that you feel that way… I had a similar experience… In your tears and sadness, I want you to know that Jesus mourns with you… You are not alone… I will listen; tell me again… I will pray with…
These are the kind words that move someone from isolation to healing. Sometimes we want to skip the part where we are ‘with’ someone and just hurry them along and insist upon their healing, mostly because we are impatient and we do not have the time or compassion for them or their problems, but that is obviously not kind. Consider the teenage girl who weeps for days at the loss of a boyfriend she had for mere weeks. I know, having walked that road myself, that there will be other, longer, better loves, perhaps even a dozen more, to come. But love’s kindness does not encourage me tell her to ‘get over it,’ or that she is ‘making too big of deal out of this.’ No, love’s kindness first agrees with her that a first love is a big loss, and one to mourn.
My daughter has big emotions about things which seem like small third grade stuff to me. She missed the second half of the Super Bowl, having never watched a minute of football previously. Her brother will not play ‘dolphin’ in the pool. A boy at school asked her who her crush was. (That one was hilarious to me, and no, she does not yet have a crush.) She had to wait an hour to ride her favorite horse Chanel. (That one was annoying to me.) Regardless, love’s kindness insists I give her emotions credibility by agreeing that disappointments and embarrassments are hard to endure. I have to offer hugs and kind words and listen to the full story first, before I offer any other solutions. I can want healing for her, but first I have to empathize with her sadness. That is kindness.
My daily acts of kindness are to walk with deliberate efforts to empathize. It is simple, but it is not always easy. It requires a slowing and a patience that I am not always in a posture to give, even to the ones I love most, let alone others.
And at times, offering a ‘Plus One,’ can be risky, too. You can be misunderstood. What if my offering of a ‘plus one’ to someone of the opposite sex gets misconstrued as flirting? What if my kindness to someone of another race comes across as patronizing? You can be judged. What if befriending someone who is awkward, makes me look awkward too? What if including someone who is ‘sinful,’ makes me look weak or unfaithful to God?
Sometimes, a ‘Plus One’ strategy requires more than words. Love’s kindness moves us into acts of service, so that someone’s burdens are shared, whether they live in our own back yard or around the globe. This sharing of burdens requires your sweat, and time, and money… And this, too, is risky. You can be taken advantage of. What if my efforts to help become expectations to serve? What if I am not genuinely appreciated?
I’m starting to wonder why anyone is ever kind, and joins with someone else in their struggle. It is risky and hard and requires our sacrifice. It’s not at all the pleasantness of Cinderella at the ball. There are lots of reasons not to stand with others and offer to share their burdens, but… And this is a big BUT… but Jesus…
Jesus was misunderstood. Jesus was judged. Jesus was taken advantage of. And Jesus still enacted the greatest Plus One of history!
Jesus sacrificed everything. He gave up the glory of God to become human and stand in solidarity WITH us. Jesus sacrificed his very life to save humanity and not leave us in isolation. He knew the risks and the demands of offering us a Plus One. But God’s love simply cannot leave us alone. Love is kind. And God’s love will forever offer camaraderie regardless the cost.
That’s enough for me. I won’t be able to be kindness in its perfect form, but I won’t give up on valuing it, or risking for it either. It’s too important not to.
PS – As I wrote this, I was home with a sick child who oscillated between wanting to lay on me and wanting me to leave the room and shut the door on my way out. And the change happened about every 10 minutes. I know sometimes kindness offers ‘space,’ but space is entirely different that isolation. You know the difference.
PPS – Tomorrow’s Post is “Us,” in which I tell you about the most beautiful and kind word that was every spoken to me in my own sorrow.
This is part of a series in which I explore the practical meaning of the life of love God is calling us to. Directions is the first post that kicks off the series, and Waiting and Wiggle Room (Love is Patient) is the second post. If you want to get notifications about future posts sent to your e-mail so you don’t miss them, then you can subscribe at the side bar or the bottom of the page, depending on the device you are reading on. Cheers!