Day 14 - Relating in Kindness
“For the despairing man there should be kindness from his friend; so that he does not abandon the fear of the Almighty.”
Job 6: 14
Meditate or Reflect
In his book Compassion, Henri Nouwen writes that to exercise compassion means to “sit with suffering.” I believe kindness is a type of compassion. Kindness is often the silent presence of a friend, or the sacrifice of time to finish another’s chores. In some of the hardest parts of my life, kindness was a strong hug without words, or a walk in nature with a friend who reminded me to listen to the beauty of the bird’s song, or a cup of coffee on the patio with my person, just listening to the wind in the trees. Kindness is being present without the need to “fix.” The kindness of a friend has a way of pointing us to God, reminding us that in our despair God abides with us with kindness and compassion. Take a breath and think of areas in your life where you have kindness – given or received. Are there any situations or relationships where kindness isn’t present? Reflect on the precious kindness of God who abides with you in your troubles. Recall to your mind the many ways God has shown kindness to you.
Thoughts and Behaviors
Turn to your thoughts and behaviors. Are your thoughts and behaviors kind or critical? Consider the verse from Job 6: 14 and reflect on these questions with the Spirit’s help:
Flourishing and Protecting
Scripture guides us to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6: 2). Bearing with, sitting with, enduring with are all ways we can show kindness when relating to others in their time of need. Our kindness is a service, and a visible demonstration of grace. However, when we become the friend in need, or in despair, and are met with unkind, critical, judgmental, or condemning people, it may be best to invite someone else into the conversation – a counselor, an impartial friend, a trusted advisor. Hopefully, kindness can be cultivated, but if it is not, then it may be time to create boundaries for protecting your time of need. Also, search your heart, mind, and soul to see where you may be unkind, critical, or judgmental, and make any changes that could improve your part in a relationship.
To offer kindness in relationships means to be of service and support, and to allow for a non-judgmental space for self or others to grow. Showing kindness is like the morning sunlight – in its quiet strength, it kindly offers hope for a new day. Take a breath and receive the kindness that God offers to you– He abides with you in grace and compassion – meet Him in this moment. Also, express your gratitude for the relationships where you experience kindness, and pray for those who struggle to be kind.
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Amy Fleming, MA, LPC