Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
—Ephesians 4:32 ESV
Webster’s dictionary defines “kind” as sympathetic, gentle, benevolent. Not only does Ephesians 4:32 tie forgiving to kindness, but so does Psalm 86:5, which says, “For Thou, Lord are good, and ready to forgive, and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon Thee.” Forgiveness springs much easier from an attitude of kindness than from an attitude of defensiveness.
When we feel threatened, we naturally get defensive. Replacing defensiveness with kindness means we become vulnerable to being taken advantage of again. That’s why being kind is sometimes very difficult. It takes an ability to be gentle rather than tough. It takes a strong person to be gentle, and sometimes we don’t feel strong. But we are called by Scripture to be kind, so we are promised strength as well. Psalm 28:7 says, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him.”
—Norman Wright and Rex Johnson
We may believe we know another person, but we never really know what’s going on behind the scenes. The mum who you think has it all together may well be falling apart at the seams and feel completely unable to discuss it with anyone. But what can we do? How can we make a difference?
This we can do something about. This is where we can effect change.
If you see a mum who’s managed to make it out of Tesco’s with shopping done and sanity seemingly intact, what’s to stop you saying, “Nice work there, Sister! I take my hat off to you. Well done!”
Conversely, when the mama with the screaming kids in the supermarket is—for once—not you, a friendly smile or words to the effect of, “We’ve all been there, Love. Don’t worry.” It could well go such a long way in helping her to survive her ordeal. I’d argue that random words of encouragement from strangers is just as valuable as praise from those we know well. And remember, we don’t know what’s going on under the surface of even the most immaculately made-up face.
We’re all fighting our own individual battles and we could be lightening each other’s loads. I bet you can think of countless mums that you admire for different reasons, but do they know this? Could it be that whilst you’re comparing your insides with her outsides, she’s doing the same, and finding herself to be lacking?
So with this post, I’m setting you some homework. Please go out in the world and practice some Mummy Kindness today.
It needs so little sympathy
To cheer a weary way,
Sometimes a little kindness
Lights up a dreary day;
A very simple, friendly word
May hope and strength impart,
Or just an understanding smile
Revive some fainting heart;
And, like a sudden sunlit ray,
Lighting a darkened room,
A sunny spirit may beguile
The deepest depths of gloom.
Stephen Grellet was a French-born Quaker who died in New Jersey in 1855. Grellet would be unknown to the world today except for a few lines which made him immortal. The familiar lines, which have served as an inspiration to so many people, are these:
“I shall pass through this world but once. Any good that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now and not defer it. For I shall not pass this way again.”
—The Speaker’s Quote Book
The giving of love is the sharing of love. Love begets love. Kindness begets kindness. Mercy begets mercy. So does the giving of love one to another beget the giving of love to others. It breaks down the walls of partition and brings forth unity, love, care, and compassion one to another. As you do your part to break down those walls, there can be a free flow of My love one to another, with unity, oneness, and a bonding together in love.
—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
An American soldier who’d been in Iraq was taking a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course offered by the Army upon his return. He had been struggling with anger and was severely critical of others. After a few weeks in the course, he began to learn the classical trainings in “lovingkindness” meditation, in which you repetitively practice sending goodwill to self and others.
One day he was waiting to pay for a few things on the express line at a local market. The woman in front of him not only had more than 12 items in her cart, she was also showing off a little baby to the cashier, who was then gushing over and holding the baby. The cashier was taking quite a bit of time to talk with the woman in front of him. “Oh, great!” he thought. “Not only is this woman in the WRONG line. She’s chit-chatting about her baby. This is taking much longer than I thought it would. I hate waiting. And I hate it when people don’t follow the rules. And why is this cashier so slow? I have half a mind to tell them both off right now!”
When he got to the register a few minutes later, he realized that the little baby really had been really cute and decided to mention this to the cashier. She replied “Oh, you think so? Thank you. That’s my son. Because my husband was recently killed in action, my mom takes care of my baby much of the time. She brings him here to work every day so I can see him.”
Love is patient and kind.
—1 Corinthians 13:4 ESV
Most of us express our gratitude to individuals in our families and friends. However, there are many unseen individuals who support how we live. There are the workers who harvest the foods we eat, the factory worker who packages our food, the carpenter who builds homes in our community, the person who picks up our trash, the police officer who works to keep us safe, the nurses in our hospitals, the gardeners who tend public gardens; the list is endless.
The challenge is to take moments out of the day to take a breath, look and see what is around you and express gratitude for whatever comes forward. It can be the clear blue sky, the person who made the new shoes on your feet or a song playing on your iPod. Stay vigilant for opportunities to practice kindness. Take notice of a need and act. There is no act of kindness too small. It can and will heal the dings we all experience in today’s hectic world.
Nicholas of Myra, in present-day Turkey, was born in the fourth century to wealthy parents who died when he was a child. As a young man, Nicholas dedicated his life to God, obeyed Jesus’ admonition to “sell what you have and give to the poor,” (Matthew 19:21) and used his inheritance to assist the needy and the suffering. He was eventually promoted to the office of bishop, and became known for his love and generosity.
His story is a reminder that love means going out of our way to help others; helping others in practical ways and showing kindness are our responsibilities to those we pass by on the road of life.
Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits.
Take care of your garden,
And keep out the weeds;
Fill it up with sunshine,
Kind words and kind deeds.
—Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
There’s nothing wrong with talking about people behind their backs—as long as you say only nice things.
Chances are, what you say about others will get back to them, so use that as your gauge: Don’t say anything about others in their absence that you wouldn’t say to their face. This isn’t being hypocritical; it’s treating others in their errors or weaknesses the way you would want to be treated.
Sometimes you may need to discuss someone’s problems with others, especially if you are a supervisor, but you can always say it in a way that is respectful and won’t lower others’ opinion of the one you are discussing. When you must say something negative, try to balance it with something positive. (Everyone has some good traits.) Also, if you remind yourself that the reason you’re discussing the person’s problems is so you can help that person make changes for the better, your discussion will take on a more positive tone and you’ll be more likely to achieve your goal—positive change.
And do you know what? Sooner or later the kindness and consideration you show others will come back to you. That’s a spiritual principle, as sure as the laws of nature: You reap what you sow. Treat all people with respect, and you will earn the respect of others.
Not only that, but your example will also rub off on others. You might not see huge results immediately, but if you keep at it, you can create a little bit of heaven in your corner of the world. It is possible—and it can start with you.
—Jesus, speaking in prophecy
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