Today I want my kids to know and never forget to be kind. Choose it. Be kind on purpose. Think about it. Look for (until you find) opportunities for acts of kindness. Go out of your way to be kind. Inconvenience yourself.
There is a saying that says something like, ‘be kind, it costs you nothing.’ There is truth to that. A smile, letting someone ahead of you in line, a compliment, being patient, wishing someone a good day (better yet, praying the Lord blesses that someone)… These things cost us little to nothing, but can make a tremendous difference in the days and lives of the people we see. If it costs you so little, why begrudge such gentleness to others when life is already hard enough?
Is that the full measure of kindness: niceties that cost us nothing? I don’t think so. There is more to this being kind thing. Leaving it there misses something vitally important.
The truth is, sometimes you do sacrifice to be kind. In an episode of Grey’s Anatomy—I am not going to get into the morality of the show, or of watching it—Izzie is being kind to Alex when he really needs it, but certainly doesn’t deserve it. In response to being asked why she would help she offers this:
This makes me laugh because sometimes being kind is hard. Really hard. And very right. Izzie struggles with being kind in a kind way, but determines to be kind the best she can in spite of herself.
I would modify the little saying in this way: Being kind costs you nothing except maybe that which you need to lose. You may have to pay with your indignation to be kind to someone who you don’t want to forgive. You may lose some pride when you are kind to someone who doesn’t receive it graciously. Your self-righteousness will take a hit when you show kindness to someone you thought was less worthy than you—and you discover how much you really have in common! Consider these instances double blessings!
You will certainly pay with your excess time and money if you are being kind as often as you can, especially when you are kind to strangers and to others who cannot pay you back. You will likely even pay with your not-so-excess time and money if you are doing it right.
When you lose these finite commodities of time and money, you will have to choose more carefully how you spend what you do have. You won’t be able to buy what you want when you have already spend some of what you had on kindness. You will need to evaluate what you can do without. This will free you from ever being owned by your possessions. You will be blessed with a life that is made more simple, and more free to be kind!
So, my kids, be kind. Plan on it. Don’t let it happen on accident. Budget for double the toll (or coffee) so you can pay for the car behind you. Take the time to look at the lady bagging your purchase and ask her how she is—then listen to her response. Keep gallon Ziploc bags with toiletries and non perishable snacks in the car to hand out to homeless people you see. Donate your clothes. Over-tip whoever serves you, and look them in the eye when you thank them. Smile. Wave at pedestrians. Be kind.