In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
It’s on shirts, signs, and in quotes found online. I love the idea, but sometimes I think people seem to think it means something else.
Maybe they think it means “Be kind as long as other people aren’t being stupid, annoying, disagreeable, or offending you in any way.”
I don’t believe that’s what the phrase intends. True, it should be very easy to be kind to people who are kind to you and agree with you on every issue. We shouldn’t have to be told to do that.
Being kind to those who we don’t feel deserve our kindness is a little harder.
Let me tell you a story about a time I chose to be (mostly) kind. Two weeks ago I went to the ER for the second time in three days. The doctor discharged me and I was very confused as to why I was being discharged. (I’m sure it didn’t help that confusion was one of my symptoms going in.)
When my husband got there to pick me up I asked him if he could call the nurse. I wanted to see if we could get a better understanding of what was going on. We very politely asked for further explanation of the circumstances and the nurse became incredibly defensive. In my mind she was beyond rude to me, a patient just trying to figure out how to make it through the day.
When she wheeled me out to my vehicle I said, “I’m sorry if I made you upset with my questions. I wasn’t trying to be argumentative. I was just confused about what my next steps were, but I’m sorry if I took that out on you in a way that was unkind.”
Why did I decide to be kind to someone who was blatantly unkind to me?
- She became defensive which tells me that I offended her somehow. Even though I didn’t feel like I was offensive, her tone indicated that I was. Therefore I apologized.
- She’s a nurse. I don’t know if you’ve been paying attention the last two years, but nurses have not had an easy time. They’ve been overworked and underappreciated and I refuse to add to that.
- I believe in the phrase I started with and I believe it applies to everyone. That includes people who I may not think deserve my kindness. That’s mostly because I also believe the phrase, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
What’s the secret to being kind to people you don’t want to be kind to? Setting aside your pride.
When I apologized to that nurse I had to set aside my own feelings of not “deserving” to be treated with rudeness. I had to set aside the attitude of “I shouldn’t have to apologize – I don’t believe I did anything wrong.”
Setting aside your pride is a really easy thing to do in that it takes very little physical effort. But it’s also one of the hardest things to do because no one likes to admit they might be wrong. However, so far I have been nothing but blessed by setting aside my pride to apologize or show kindness to someone.
I also believe in being kind without expecting kindness back.
When I told one of my friends this story they asked, “Did she apologize back?” No, she didn’t and you know what? I’m glad. Because I don’t want my kindness or apology to be a gesture in order to get something in return. I want it to be because I truly love and care for other people and want to be a bright spot in their day.
Now, I’m not perfect by any means. My words were nice, but I’m still harboring some bitterness in my heart that I need to let go of. Additionally, there are many times I have not made the same choice. Even worse, it’s a lot easier for me to be kind to random strangers who offend me than it is to be kind and forgiving to the people who live in my house.
I still have a lot of work to do, but I want to challenge all of us to some acts of kindness this month, especially toward people we have a hard time being kind to.
**Please note, this is not to say that you should ever be treated like a doormat or abused in any way. Please seek help immediately if you are in any kind of abusive situation**
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