You see the same posts all over Facebook, the ones posted by women who were betrayed, friends who lost touch, and people wondering what they did wrong in general. “Don’t cross oceans for people who wouldn’t jump a puddle for you.”
There was a time when I had a similar attitude towards those who were cruel to me. Why waste my energy when they weren’t? Why devote time to someone clearly not dedicated to our friendship? It’s easy to let anger and rejection cloud our judgment of others, but here’s why you should keep a clear head and never grow tired of kindness.
You never know what someone is going through. The man who bumped into you and didn’t apologize may have been in a hurry to visit his ailing mother. The cashier who didn’t return your happy hello may have had a fight with her husband that morning. The friend who blew you off for lunch may have just failed the test she needed to pass the class and is trying to study.
Now don’t get me wrong, these don’t give anyone a license to be mean. But they do offer context enough to give you understanding. Your kind response may be what they need to have a better day, to put a smile on their face or to have a little more faith in humanity.
Kill ‘em with kindness: My great grandmother taught this lesson to my mom this phrase, and I’ve grown up learning it from her. It isn’t just a Selena Gomez song, they’re words to live by. For those who are blatantly mean, one of the best ways to combat their aggression is with kindness, because it’s hard to continue to be rude to someone who is nothing but nice.
Responding to a bad situation with grace and kindness not only keeps you in the clear, but it makes the aggressor stop in their tracks. What can you say to someone you just chewed out when they respond with genuine kindness? It can make you feel pretty silly and make you think twice before you react explosively again. A quiet reaction can also give someone to opportunity to evaluate how they’re acting.
This is what God calls us to do. For those who are wanting to spread Christ’s love but aren’t sure where to start, here’s a bit of food for thought. Mark 2:17: “And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.'”
Jesus wasn’t described in the Bible as constantly lounging around with his friends who loved him and had life figured out. He healed the sick, hung out with prostitutes and spent time with the poor and those who didn’t believe. He taught his disciples how to be righteous and corrected them when they were wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t always mean surrounding yourself with people like you all the time. It doesn’t mean cutting people from your life who don’t serve your purpose. It means serving others and showing them the light in its simplest form: love.
My favorite movie to watch with my mom is the newest version of Cinderella. The sweet family at the beginning reminds me of my own, and it never fails to bring a few tears. It might sound nerdy to be so inspired by a Disney movie, but when I watch the part where she pours a bowl of milk for the poor woman in rags after being harshly rejected by her step-family, I always want to be like her; maybe not by singing to woodland animals in the morning because let’s face it, I’m not a morning person, but by never letting the world harden my heart.
Just because I’m writing this to you doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with being kind to everyone. Some people make it very hard. Don’t let people disrespect you, but don’t fight fire with fire, either. So jump the puddle and cross the ocean; give endlessly to people without expectation of something in return, because kindness is something you can never run out of. What’s to lose?