By: Glyndora Condon, MS MFT, NCC, LPC. CTMH, CCTP, EMDIIA
In many cases that come to us, often-Relationships are suffering. People complain that their marriage, couple, family, or friend relationship is on the brink of dissolvement. As I listen intently to all sides with the hope to find a resolve as we educate regarding boundaries, correcting thought distortions, increasing communication skills, and becoming more aware as to each other’s love language, needs, and purpose-I note two aspects that are common: The absence of RESPECT between each party for the other, and the absence of KINDNESS. Both will kill the relationship when one or both are missing. In this article I will address only one of these two factors.
Oxford defines kindness: noun
1. the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.
"he thanked them for their kindness and support"
a kind act.
plural noun: kindnesses
"it is a kindness I shall never forget" Kindness 101: What is the true meaning of kindness?
Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. ... Whereas, being kind is doing intentional, voluntary acts of kindness. Not only when it's easy to be kind, but when it's hard to be.
How does the Bible define kindness?
Kindness is selfless, compassionate, and merciful; its greatest power revealed in practice to our enemies and amongst the least of these. Love your neighbor; show kindness to EVERYONE. For a perfect example: We look and study Jesus.
It is not a surprise when relationships suffer as KINDNESS is limited or nonexistent. I am curious and a question that I am likely to ask is, “How well do you really know this person?” What are they missing in their understanding of that person? Have they missed their attributes? How well do they know the other’s personality? Purpose? Character? Are they in a relationship that is basically only one of acquaintance-which is barely touching the surface regarding that person’s complex multi-facetted self; where each are still masked to protect self without the ability to be completely vulnerable in the security of grace and trust? How often are they seeking the opportunity to listen and to learn about their loved one? How hospitable are they?
Did they know these “problems” that they complain about prior to deciding to invite them into the most intimate level of a relationship which requires grace, trust, and commitment? If so-then did they choose to ignore or reject those problems then?
It is easy to be kind to those who are kind to us, but what happens when others are not kind? Often, we become vengeful, hurtful, and we turn inward. Some examples would be those blogs or comments on social media sites-as we expose and ridicule them in public; or when we seek for happiness in other forums or with others. As well as, isolating ourselves, going into silence, and fortifying our walls that will exclude them. If they don’t hold the same political views, then they can be unfriended, or we can block them. If they refuse to do what we say or want-then we feel free to manipulate and to scorn them.
Yet, each time we do these or other equal actions against them-then we cause pain, distrust, doubts, anger, and the need for that person to have to choose if they will return our dysfunctional behaviors back upon us, or if they will choose kindness and the risk of being hurt or vulnerable. And, in time-both are only seeking their own happiness, completely self-absorbed; wanting to stop the pain with fight or flight, as each pour through every possible option without considering those that will actually bring healing and bonding.
Kindness needs to begin with the smallest of opportunities which will lead to being able to show mercy and kindness during the most difficult and huge challenges of life. Have you considered that how you love and treat yourself is often how you will love and treat others? Kindness is practical, pleasant, good, merciful, and selfless. It is praying for those who mistreat you. It is rebuking with grace, with hope to help someone turn from imminent danger; for their very soul's sake, and helping them with accountability-only after we first check our own heart, goals, motive, and the enormous responsibility of loving and committing to that person. It is doing this when we are tired, hungry, and when we are hurting. Kindness is something we do when in public and also when we are in private. It takes no leave of absence in serving the better good of the one loved.
Many times, we fail to show kindness as we allow our own distortions, past hurts, fears, selfishness, and the hard emotions rage out of control. We fail to see the other as that one we professed to love. Often, we have no clue who they really are and we fail to see their humanness. We fail to help them when they are at their least, or we want them to be less than ourselves since this is the only way we think we have power. We must seek to listen, to learn about this person, to allow their uniqueness, to understand the obstacles they confront, and then we need to offer to walk alongside them with love and acceptance as we show kindness. We must seek every possible opportunity to be kind. How kind am I? You? Perhaps we need to embrace this calling to be kind today and everyday from here and throughout the future.