It’s 4pm on a Friday afternoon. We are two weeks into summer vacation. I’m already thinking this is going to be a looong summer.
The world is angry. The weather is angry. People close to me seem angry. I’m a bit cranky myself. The heat and haze seem to be swallowing everything up in it’s steam. Tempers are short. People, plants and animals are wilting. The world has gone crazy. I just want to turn it all off. Pretend it’s not happening. But the reality is, the angry, hating, throbbing crowds are real. They aren’t going anywhere just because I don’t want to deal with it. Shutting off social media, isn’t going to make them disappear.
Recently I watched the new Cinderella movie. Yes I’m going with a fairy tale in my blog about the real, hurting world. Stay with me. One key line. The advice a dying mother gave her daughter. The secret of life: Have courage. Be kind.
Have courage. Be kind. The secret to life. I think there’s something to that. To be kind, it takes a whole lot of courage. Because it means giving of yourself. Usually your rights. Your right to have the last word. Or the first. Your right to be right. Your right to lay into someone who deserves to be told off. Your right to self-righteousness. Your right to get what you want. Your right to get what you think you deserve. Your right to justice and fairness. Your right …fill in the blank.
Being kind to someone means forfeiting your rights. Usually. When it’s easy to be kind to a friend or neighbour it doesn’t cost you anything. Being kind when the person doesn’t deserve it, takes it to a whole other plain. It’s where the courage comes in. That’s when kindness really counts and can make the all the difference in the whole world.
Think of a time when someone was kind to you and you didn’t really deserve it. How’d it make you feel? It probably changed the whole trajectory of your day, your mood. It’s that powerful.
I failed at this the other day. It’s been on my mind too this kindness thing. You think I would have leapt at the chance. I didn’t. I chose me, my rights over kindness.
We came out of swimming lessons and there was a van parked right beside my car. When I say right beside, I mean right beside! I couldn’t open my door. I could just squeeze in between the two vehicles. I’m surprised she didn’t hit me. There was a little family in that van. The mom came walking across the parking lot. I had the option to be nice or not. I said “You parked kinda close. I can’t even get my door open.’ in a very snotty voice. She apologized and went to move the van. I crawled in the passenger side of our car and ignored her. We drove out of the parking spot and away. I had the right to be annoyed and I took it. I didn’t yield to her. I didn’t give up my rights.
What did I gain? Nothing. I had a fleeting moment of satisfaction. That was so brief I barely felt it. Instead of showing my boys how to be kind, I modelled how to be justly annoyed. How to take your rights and run. Not a proud mothering moment.
It could have been so much more. I could have TURNED to kindness and shown them a whole other way to live. How to treat others with respect even if they are in the wrong. That everyone is valuable and worth our kindness. That it takes courage, a different kind of courage than the world talks about, to be kind. I didn’t.
I TURNED instead to me. My rights. My justice. It was wrong. Maybe not in this world but in the kingdom I should be worried about, it was wrong.
Being kind doesn’t take a whole lot. It’s not like love. It can be hard to Love everyday. Love gets messed up. People mess up love. Somedays we can’t manage it. But kindness is different. It takes a shift in perspective for sure. It’s not as easy as it looks or the world would be very different. I would have been different to that van driver. But it’s manageable if we just get past ourselves. Our rights.
I believe kindness is almost as powerful as love. Kindness draws us in, even the most wary of us. It’s a TURNING towards love. A first step. If we can’t always do love, we can be kind. If everyone was just a little more kind to each other and to ourselves, I think the world could be different. My encounter with the van mom could have been different. Which would have made my day better. It’s a lesson I’m not going to easily forget.
Cinderella’s mom had a good thought. Have courage. Be kind. It just might be the secret to life. You know, the abundant kind.