Kindness

There’s a painting I just 1/2 finished (meaning, it could be considered finished by some people and if I weren’t so persnickety I might also call it finished) that’s a simple textured green background with white letters. It says, “be kind. it matters.” It’s a reminder to myself that even when I’m a total grumpus and I’m having a really super terrible day, it’s crucial to be kind to the people around me. The people I love and know very well and the people I don’t know very well and only love out of principle. Because you’re supposed to love everyone, right? And there are a lot of people that I really really love. Out of principle. And I’ve been thinking about kindness a lot lately.

This weekend, my youngest sister, my mom, and two friends came into town to visit. One evening we walked them around downtown to see some of the Honky Tonks and bright lights and cheap souvenirs. We walked through “Printer’s Alley” on the way to the car, which is sort of a shady place in Nashville. Shady as in nude karaoke, so you know… seriously shady. A very stumbling homeless man holding a bottle of mouth wash (that wasn’t filled with mouth wash) came over to my husband and mumbled something inaudible. Dave leaned in, the man repeated himself, “will you shake my hand?” Dave said, “yeah, of course.” Shook his hand and stood and talked for a moment. Dave mostly saying, “I’m sorry? I didn’t understand that.” And things of that nature. For some reason, with all these thoughts on kindness floating around in my head lately, standing there watching Dave politely talking and shaking hands with a man who was so entirely sloppy drunk and incomprehensible and shouting profanities, I got choked up. Now, that’s obviously a testament to how irrational I am… that a homeless man yelling curses outside of a nude karaoke bar was a sweet emotional moment for me, but it’s also a great example of the kind of man I’m married to. That he stands there shaking hands for a few minutes and trying to talk with said homeless man.

But, that’s not entirely what this blog post is about. This is really about a very sweet couple that will remain nameless for the purpose of this little space. These are people who have only spent a tiny bit of time with us. Hardly know me, I feel. Great people, as far as I know. Really great.

And for some reason, I keep trying to give excuses for their kindness. Because if they did know me better, perhaps they wouldn’t be so kind… and maybe it’s easier for them to be generous because they don’t know first hand how I think or act or feel. How I can get so judgmental, or how I can be selfish and materialistic, or the way I forget about being kind sometimes when the people I’m not nice to desperately need me to be nice. Maybe if they knew those things about me, they wouldn’t have given us the gift they did. They wouldn’t have cared so much that they went out of their way to be good people to us. Because if they were so so kind and generous to the person they think I am, I ought to try to be that person, right?

And thinking about all of that gets to this place that feels a lot like grace, and a lot like mercy, and a lot like Christ. I am not who I want to be and I’m not perfect. Not even remotely close. But there is kindness out there waiting for me regardless of the mess I am. So thank you so very much, friends. Thank you for being generous and altruistic and for giving me a snapshot of grace in a moment that surely needed it.

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