"Be kind to one another."
This was the very first Bible verse I had my kids memorize. It seems like it was the first lesson I ever taught them, as well. Unfortunately, my 15, 13, 11, and 9 1/2 year olds have not mastered it, and maybe that's because their mother isn't always the greatest at showing kindness herself.
Yesterday, things came to a head with another random act of unkindness, and I instituted "The Kindness Challenge." The entire ride to the dentist office, I established the rules and guidelines, clarifying terms (a great vocabulary lesson, by the way) and setting expectations. I'm sure that my son was relieved to be out of that car and into the dentist's chair, under the drill and away from my lecture. Nevertheless, I was serious, and when I put my mind to something, nothing can stop me.
From now through the end of October, I have challenged our family to
"Be deliberate, purposeful, intentional, proactive, extravagant, simple, consistent, selfless, Spirit led, Spirit filled, humble, and sincere in sharing kindness to one another."
Today, I watched. I also made a concerted effort to be kind. I started making a list in a mini journal that says LOVED on the front. Tonight, I called everyone together and read the kindnesses I'd observed throughout the day, inviting them to share the kind things that they had seen other people doing. I told them that this was not a time for boasting about the kind things that they had done themselves. I encouraged them that even if no one mentioned a kindness that they had done, God had seen it, and no kindness goes unnoticed by Him.
The one benefit that I'm already seeing is that it's a good attitude adjustment to notice and share the kindnesses of others. Lately, there have been frequent cries of, "They're always being mean to me." It's good to recognize that that's not really true. Noticing how kind others have been is akin to practicing gratitude in a way. Too often we take each other for granted and have a sense of entitlement. Recognizing that even the simplest things are acts of kindness combats this arrogant, self-centered attitude and replaces it with a thankful heart. It takes the focus off of "me, me, me" and puts it on someone else. It can be humbling as well as inspiring.
My husband prayed for our family after we were done sharing, and I really hope that everybody takes this challenge to heart. With as busy as we have been lately, it's easy to take out the fatigue and frustration on the ones who are closest. It would be nice to see that irritability replaced with kindness.
A little bit of kindness goes a long way.
Grace and Peace,