Thursday, April 18 2024 - 2:19 AM
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Kindness Matters

Well for all the mess and the fuss and the energy we put into bad behavior, it’s no wonder we continue to misstep. Did I say energy we put into bad behavior? Yes. I did. Contrary to the big juicy belief that we’ll all stop acting out when there’s enough pressure telling us to stop it, Jesus actually taught the opposite. Jesus taught that we all stop our silliness (I think the word used is repent) when we are treated to kindness. Good, harmless, gentle kindness. In other words, negative treatment applied to a sinful outburst seems only to fuel the flames.

So no wonder there isn’t a boatload more repenting going on among the adults of our planet; there isn’t a lot of kindness administered to the failing and their failures. Sure we smile when Susie gets the promotion and Tommy signs another contract, but what about all the other moments when the imperfect act imperfectly? What then?

Right About Kindness

I have a theory. It burst onto my consciousness over the course of a few years of watching us and reading the teachings of Jesus. My theory is that Jesus was actually right about kindness. It is the only thing that sticks. Even the most ill-willed, hard-hearted creature cannot seem to wash it off. You wand your kindness upon the undeserved, and you will get their full attention. Not only that, but you will also find yourself in a position of great power.

I know that power can seem to be only for those who line up tanks and shoot guns and shout loud enough to get every duck in a row. But you and I both know this is not power. This is a mere display of weaker, more fearful humans placating mostly to stay alive and un-arrested. The truth is that the two-legged-whomever-he-is behind the big guns has no power at all. Rather, that person is riding on the wave of fear his display triggers. Give anyone a choice in that scenario, and the power (and party) are over.

I think this is why Jesus was so powerful. He didn’t force. He didn’t have weapons to rally submission. In fact, He even avoided using what I like to call passive-aggressive power, like begging, pleading, guilting and shaming people to get it together. Instead, Jesus was pretty mundane. He answered questions honestly. He gave people what they asked for. And He explained all the significant things. Basically, Jesus was kind in a most ordinary way.

And maybe this is why the messiest of people started to straighten up and slow down in the company of Jesus. Whereas judgment and the heavy hand of punishment seem to curb the fearful, and intensity hems in the worst offenders (usually without any alteration of their attitude), kindness does not counter bad behavior because it’s not after bad behavior at all… it’s after the heart of us, the deep soul of us.

This is probably why we don’t jump to attention when kindness hits us over the head; we actually relax and start breathing deeply. For most of us, it’s like, oh yeah, ok, I have a heart in there after all; I think I feel something! Yes, for all the messiness everywhere, we feel wonderful at that moment. We feel like we matter, like we’re special. In a way, it makes us feel grandly human.

And for this, I think we all need more of this kindness in our lives. I think we all need to breathe and relax more. I think most of the drive behind our continually poor choices and erratic behaviors is a severe lack of dignifying kindness. Think about it… if you knew you’d be embraced with the good old loving-kindness of respect, no matter what you did, were, or came through, how do you think that would change your scrambling life?

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Claire Worley writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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About Claire Worley

Claire Worley

writes from the Pacific Northwest.

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