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loveandpatientpartialheartcbl2014

(c) 2014 Christiana Lambert

For too long I have been silent. No more. My heart hurts for the discourse I read, and then further when I hear that some in our country are carrying out acts of hatred toward those who are considered the Other. For my friends who believe justice has been served in this election and that the losers on this side of history should just grow up and accept what has happened, I want them to understand that many people are afraid that is now OK to be judged (and punished) for how they look, or who they love. I’m not got going to grow out of my concern for the Other—and, for me, it is specifically because of what I’ve learned from others of faith and from the Bible. My God is a God of love and my faith compels me to strive to be a person of love—no matter what.

We all pick and choose what we quote from the Bible. I know this is considered a crazy and possibly heretical thought by many Christ-followers, but as a literature major, I can tell you I always read for depth and meaning in everything I read. While I may not know the Greek and Hebrew behind the original creation of the passages we know today, nor do I know all the history surrounding the events in the books of the Bible, I most certainly know to recognize when there are conflicting passages in the Great Book. I must prayerfully consider and reconcile the differences.

For me, I choose to pick the verses where Jesus said the greatest commandments were to love the Lord and God with all your soul and your strength and your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself. In his exchange in Luke 10 with the expert of the law who correctly answered that those were the most important laws, the man then asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus responds by starting out with, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho . . . ”

He launches into the parable of the Good Samaritan–and I’m pretty certain that Samaritans were on some sort of registry there in those days. Who was the hero of that story? The outsider–and the man who showed love. What was Jesus telling us here? That love is love. And to love everyone.

There’s that “love everyone” thing again–which seems really, really hard to do these days.

I’m going to try to love the people who have made statements I consider unconscionable—not because my mean-spirited human heart wants to do so, but because my God asks me to love all my neighbors. We can disagree on how we approach the laws of this country, but unless the rhetoric includes language of kindness and empathy, I want others to know that I won’t stand for it. These days it’s all the rage to be snarky but it isn’t very Christian. And yet that’s just what we Christians are showing the world.

Who is my neighbor? You all are.

 

 

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2011 Christiana Lambert

So many seemingly hopeless situations happening these past few weeks around the world and in our country. The slaughtering of children in their classrooms, not by fellow classmates, but by adults who chose to make those deaths the message. The unrest exacerbated by seemingly excessive force. The retaliation against such force by an individual set on revenge.

Those are the “in our face” news stories of the most recent days and, yet, the war against hope pervades so many of our interactions and seems to be celebrated by many, including those in the press. Hope is not just one particular person’s mantra—does it really make sense to drive around with a bumper sticker that states “no hope”, as if that’s a goal for which we should all strive?

It’s time we declared a truce on this war against hope. A collective sense of hope is necessary for all, especially in these particularly dark times.

And for those who are having a hard time finding hope in their personal situations, this collective lack of hope is even more crushing.

I know, because my own family’s dance with hopelessness really began in earnest about the time the economy crashed and the political bickering intensified. My own loss of innocence—so to speak—about hopelessness coincided with this dark period we as a country can’t seem to leave behind.

I sit in church on Sundays and try to believe that others still value kindness and want to treat people well and attempt to listen to one another, even when they hold opposing views, but so much of what I’ve seen over the past several years gets in the way of believing what I used to believe so easily about the essential goodness of people. Man’s inhumanity to man (really, people’s inhumanity to people) overwhelms me so often these days and I grow weary.

I know there are way more good people in this world than bad, but what we hear about more often and those who get the most press are those who take hope away from others or those who do not care about others’ feelings of hope.

I will never stop striving to maintain whatever sense of hope I can and will do my best to keep my actions and words building hope for others as best I can, but it would be so much easier to do if I felt the “no hope” crowd were much smaller.

On my own, maintaining this hope thing isn’t very possible—somehow I just have to trust that God will help me and this world in which we live to keep the faith.

No matter how much my own hope fluctuates, I do still believe God sent light and hope into this world—a world that was as dark or, likely, darker—around 2,000 years ago. Because of that, I fight for hope, not against it.

The Light of the World is coming—stay hopeful.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Some themes I just keep returning to because they won’t be ignored. Oh, I know they represent personal themes for me, but some of them keep coming back because I really believe our society needs to value them more—for the sake of everyone.

The word for today (and every day) for me is kindness, boys and girls.

Yes, I know the more I rant about kindness, the more likely it is that you’re going to catch me not being kind—or at least not acting in a kind way in the moment. Because the truth is there are days when I am too frustrated, angry, sad, tired, sick, whatever to take the high road—I am sure I am not nearly as kind as I believe I should be—or even as think I am.

So, yes, I’m just going to start out by admitting my actions often fail to support my own belief in the value of kindness. But, hey, as Scarlett (O’Hara) said, tomorrow’s another day. I’ll admit that the how of showing kindness can by challenging from time to time, but not the why.

For me personally, I like being treated with kindness, so I’m going to make an assumption that treating others well helps them along their journeys, big and small. In many ways that’s reason enough for me.

The thing is, we often have no idea how something we do affects someone else—which is true for most of the good, bad, or indifferent actions we take in this life.

At the same time, we really don’t know all the burdens others carry.

In these days of increased awareness surrounding mental health, stories keep emerging of people who harm themselves or others—or both. Our kindnesses may or may not stop these people from destructive journeys but why does our society seem, in many ways, to promote actions that could help push a struggling person over the edge?

People in charge of others, such as bosses, teachers, and parents, particularly need to realize the power for good or evil they possess. Actions such as making unwarranted assumptions, playing games, shaming, and indulging in power trips are not just unkind—sometimes they can be deadly, especially when someone is already carrying quite a bit of baggage.

I’ve said it before and I guess I’m just going to keep saying it: be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of a battle.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

You know how you get so wound up that the only thing you can do that will help is exercise? That’s how I was on Friday. Well, truth is first I went shopping, but shopping is like a quick sugar buzz—it makes you feel better briefly but then it drops you back where you were or lower. Even though I was looking for something to resolve a specific problem in my home, those bright retail lights and flashy displays offered no more than empty promises.

All I could do was try to run off some of my tension and, in return, maybe improve my cardiovascular function at the same time I might begin to feel calmer. I wish I could say that in general I get all Zen-like when I am running while upset and that soon I am thinking only about my breathing and the way my feet feel each time they touch the earth—but so far I haven’t reached that level of enlightenment. Yet despite my elevated level of irritation, I could really feel the benefits of a cool breeze and the shade from the bridges and trees and remember to keep dropping my shoulders whenever tension built.

No, my thoughts weren’t filled with sunshine and butterflies—and for the most part they really weren’t focused on my body either. My mind was definitely running faster than my feet—I had to work hard to keep my feet from going faster than they should. I was mindful enough to keep slowing myself down even though that crazy monkey mind of mine wanted to push the tempo.

What was—and still is—unsettling to me is a combination of recent happenings and how much of what surrounds those events conflicts with all I believe matters in life. As my feet touched the ground (yes—still trying hard to be all ChiRunning about it and not let my feet push off from the ground—a very difficult task for me, especially when upset), in my head I saw my abbreviated philosophy in writing, just like this: God, family, and kindness.

Everything else follows from there. Everything. These big problems we are experiencing are related to a clash of values. What we consider to be all is considered to be foolishness by some. This in itself is not a news flash, but it appears to be a major problem when you are linked closely to others who not only do not share your values but who also may actually mock them.

If you think I am weak because I value kindness, then you do not know how much strength I use to be kind to you when you are not being kind to me or mine. My values also say that part of being kind is completing my obligations to the best of my abilities and not leaving them to someone else. If that makes certain people think I am stupid—oh well. That I should continue to be kind and hard-working is not a question for me; however, you know the expression? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Just because I believe in kindness doesn’t mean I believe I am required to be a doormat. My memory is long and my eyes are open.

While I couldn’t run enough to run away from this situation, the run did solidify where I stand—even when I am moving.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

What a year or two (or more) we’ve had. Children and moviegoers, as well as public servants such as teachers, first responders, and political representatives, have been made into targets by mentally ill, criminal, and/or just plain evil people.

As a society we want to talk about guns, mental illness, and lack of religion or good family structures. While all those factors are pieces of the puzzle, might we be missing something much simpler?

Are we living in that “kinder, gentler world” that George H. W. Bush wanted to promote? Do we even value the goal of a kinder, gentler world?

Is it very interesting to watch people acting in kind ways on reality shows? Do we want political officials to compromise—or would we rather they win for “our” side? What about how we treat the service people in retail establishments?

What if we, the average citizens, just take a pledge to respond in kindness as much as possible? What if we let others in front of us on the highway, thank the clerk after sales transactions, express our valid complaints with politeness, etc.?

The concepts of random acts of kindness and “paying it forward” help even more, but first we need to return to being kind in situations where kindness should be expected.

Does kindness cure mental illness or criminal intent?

Not likely—and yet, might some people’s homicidal desires be softened by receiving a lifetime of kindness?

And though I still can’t find a definitive source for one of my favorite quotes, I believe the more of us who follow its advice, the fewer random acts of unkindness we’ll experience:

Be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

While the public arena struggles with overarching policy changes, realize that being kind does not require us to agree on or rewrite laws nor does it rest upon any funding sources.

From this day forward, simply go forth and be kind.

(c) 2010 Christiana Lambert

Remember when we didn’t expect mass killings in public places? Seems so long ago anymore when we thought everyday living was fairly safe from random homicidal rampages. What’s up with our country? Why do so many people these days choose to use their brand of darkness to take the light from others?

I went to bed late last night, after talking too long with my daughter, who had gone away on a trip, but woke up extra early, nonetheless. And to find out what? That with great planning, some thug on the other side of our metropolitan area had chosen to use his theatrics to teach late night movie-goers what a dark night is in real life?

What is the purpose of that?

You know, I watched the TV when the Oklahoma City bombings happened and then a few years later when the Columbine shootings occurred. Somehow I felt I might understand if I watched and listened, but I never did.

Ever since then I have pretty much stuck to reading my news—hardly turned on the TV after 9/11, even though my 4th-grade-aged kids were forced to watch the news at school all that very long day.

Can’t watch anymore—I’m way too visual. The pictures get stuck in my head—I’ll never forget the dream I had a couple months after Columbine. My family and I got trapped together with a large group of other people as the killers meandered around deciding whom to kill and whom to spare. The killer pointed at me, a white heat spreading throughout my body, before walking off. I woke up in a sweat—could have sworn it was me under those tables in the Columbine library. The image still has power over me.

I don’t want to see the smiling photos, read the bios, smell the rotting flowers, etc. again—not because the people killed and wounded don’t matter, but because they matter too much. We all do.

I don’t know how to prevent these things anymore than the next person, but if we were all a little kinder in our dealings with others, might fewer people find it so easy to let their hatred fester into violence?

I like to think about that expression: Be kinder than necessary as everyone you meet is battling something.

Our world is too dark—who knows how to change it, except through one kindness at a time.

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert