Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.
Can you remember the last time someone was kind to you?
I can remember so vividly our first two years on the mission field. Whew! There were so many changes, so many things that we needed to adjust to in our new environment, so many emotions that I had to process, so many things that I needed to learn. The list could go on and on, but, in reflection, what stands out to me most is a particular day on a walk around our neighborhood. I was having a hard day because of the culture shock of returning to a third-world country after several months of furlough.
Our family arrived in Nicaragua, our country of service, on December 31, 2013. Yes, you read that correctly! We brought in the new year ~ in a new country! Fast-forward to February 2015. I can’t recall what the trigger was on that particular day, but I know that I needed to get out of our house, and out of my head, and take a walk. Walking helps me process all of my jumbled emotions and sensory overload, and on this day I found myself needing to work through plenty. And, it was on this walk that I distinctly remember someone showing me kindness.
However, before I continue with my story let’s first nail down what we mean when we talk about the word “kindness.” “Kindness” is a noun. A noun is a word used to identify any class of people, places, or things. The definition of the word “kindness” is, “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.” And, now that we have today’s grammar lesson out-of-the-way, let’s continue.
During my walk, I was having a difficult time working through everything on my mind, and, primarily, because I was trying to do this on my own. Once I realized this, I asked God to help me; to help me discern what he was asking us to do; to help me remember our calling; to help me remember His love for me. On my second lap, I was approaching Ann’s house, a friend of mine. As she entered onto the road to begin her walk, she asked if she could join me. I gladly said yes, knowing that at this moment I needed someone to share with. And, desiring to walk with me that day was a huge act of kindness. I know that this might not seem that profound, or inherently something we would consider to be an outward act of kindness, but let me explain. You see, in a missionary community, much like a military community, we all have our circle of friends, and sometimes it is very hard to get into those circles, much less to really feel that you are truly accepted and trusted. Sadly, I have found that in the missionary community it is even a little harder to feel like you are accepted as a part of the group, and for several reasons.
When I first arrived to Nicaragua I was told that it is good to associate with others who have entered service on the mission field at the same time. But, in my experience, I disagree with this way of thinking completely! We are all on this journey together, and having friends that can pass on their wisdom and experiences is invaluable. Also, I think the way I do because of my experience as a military family. In my husband’s unit we had an abnormally strong bond between the families of the soldiers. Those who had been in the unit for a while would take new families under their wings. We would accept the new spouses into our circles quickly so that we could love them and show them kindness, and to use our experiences to help them adapt to their new surroundings quickly. Ann showed me that kindness by asking to join me on my walk that day, having a much-needed conversation with me. We walked for about 30 minutes, just sharing about our time in the States and being back in country. She asked me about our time in Nicaragua, about the things that I was experiencing and what I was having difficulty with at that time. Ann had been in country for about 7-8 years and had much wisdom to offer, so I thoroughly enjoyed our time together. I was able to share about my small victories of doing things for the first time since returning back in country, which was just a few weeks prior to this particular day. It is great to be able to share and rejoice with one another about those little things that you are able to accomplish. Ann may never know what that walk meant to me, but her compassion was very evident, and I look forward to getting to know her more during our walk serving The Lord together here, in Nicaragua.
So, looking back, when was the last time someone was kind to you by investing their time in you, or, more importantly, when was the last time you showed kindness to someone in your life?
The Bible speaks specifically about the word kindness, 44 times to be exact. Being kind or showing kindness to others is an important trait to have. In Ephesians 4:32, it says, ”Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Kindness is a characteristic that comes from the Holy Spirit. When you allow Christ to work in you these characteristics, like kindness, will be evident in your life. Put yourself in the shoes of someone else and think about how you would want someone to treat you if you just made a huge mistake; were new at school or a job; or just found out some devastating news about your loved one.
We must begin to look at others through the lens of Christ.
We must begin to love others the way Christ loves us.
We must begin to forgive others the way Christ forgives us.
Now, will you show kindness to those around you today, those you speak with on the phone, those you interact with at the grocery store….everyone around you?
Prayer: Father, I need you! I need you to come into my heart and change me from the inside out so that the fruit of the Spirit comes pouring forth in everything that I do. Help me to show kindness to those around me! Help me to see others the way that you see them. Help me to forgive them just as you have forgiven me. In Jesus Name I Pray, Amen.