What Does it Really Mean to be Kind?
I find myself yelling to my kids for the millionth time, “Just be KIND!” when it occurs to me they may have no idea what I am really saying. I’m pretty sure often they default to thinking being kind means being nice to their friends and not yelling at their siblings. Done and done.
But kindness is so much more than that. As an educator I know sometimes kids need things very specifically spelled out for them (they also need this modelled by us so buckle up friends, this letter is good for us at any age). Kindness in our world is one of the most important things we can teach our kids and I firmly believe it needs to be taught by us.
My Dear Kids,
You’ve heard me say this so many times, “You are as God made you.”. You are just exactly as you should be, uniquely and wonderfully you. And guess what? Everyone else in the world is as God made THEM. They are all perfectly OK just as they are. We are all God’s creation and our job here is to take care of God’s creation. To treat it with kindness, not to kill it with criticism.
Each day we need to go out there and be kind to those in our world. But what does it look like to be kind? It sounds easy, but when we say Be Kind, it is actually one of the hardest things we ask of you. For real. There are so many ways we need to use kindness in the world. Here are the top 5 I hope you remember:
- Be kind when someone is looking for a friend. The person who wants to be your friend might not be popular or cool. You might gain nothing by being friendly or by offering a hello, or a compliment, or an offer to sit down at your lunch table. You might even think people will like you LESS for being kind, and that might actually be true. But here’s the thing, your kindness could be the thing that saves another person. It could be the thing that brightens their day and helps them keep going. In just a few years, what status you had in the walls of your middle or high school will be worth ZERO life points. For real…nothing. No one will care. No one will ever ask you on a job interview if you were popular in middle or high school. Never. But being kind. SO MANY life points for you! People will care for your whole life if you are kind. If you are looking to make the world better, if you are looking for something lasting…be kind. You may or may not be popular. Try not to care. Popular is an illusion that can disappear in an instant. Kindness is carried forever.
- Be kind when you see the kid that is different. Here’s the truth. Some kids will look funny to you. They will do things that are different and sometimes different can be embarrassing. Sometimes people laugh at or say mean things to people who are different. But think first, what if that different person was your best friend? Your brother? What would you think of kids laughing at at someone you loved? How would you feel inside to watch that happen? It is easy to laugh along with the crowd and it’s easy to be tempted toward easy. We all are. But do the hard thing. Be brave. Be a friend and get to know the people that seem different. Different doesn’t mean bad or embarrassing. Different is what we learn from. And I bet you will find they are also the same as you in so many ways.
- Be kind to those close to you. It can be so easy to let the cares of your heart get you down, and it is easy to take this out on the ones that love you the most. Your safe people. But kindness toward those that love you is never wasted. It is also sometimes the hardest kindness to give. I hear you kiddo…it is never easy to hold back when you just want to flick your sibling between the eyes because they borrowed your jacket without asking. But flicking between the eyes never makes things better. Being kind actually does. Try it. Be kind when your sibling wrecks your shoes. Be kind to your dad when he’s late picking you up from practice. Be kind when your best friend doesn’t call. Assume the best of the people in your world and be kind even when they forget to be. They love you even when they forget to be kind. And I know you love them too.
- Be kind to those that are mean to you. Yes, you even have to be kind to them. My mom always said everyone in this world has a story and you have no idea what another person’s is. Perhaps that person doesn’t yet know they are as God made them. Perhaps they don’t yet know God at all. Maybe they have been told they are worthless and are looking to find their worth by beating down others. We just don’t know. But being kind to our enemies is something God is directly asking of us. So kindness is still what we are asking here. You may not change a thing about another person by being kind. And yet, you will have put more kindness and not more hate into the world. That is always, always, always the right thing.
- Be kind to yourself. You are fighting the good fight my dear child. You are attempting to do the hard work. This stuff is still hard for each and every grown up that surrounds you, I am sure of it. It is still hard for me. Sometimes you will totally mess up and some of your mess ups will be big. Treat yourself with kindness during these times. What would you say to someone you love that made a big mistake? Say these kind words to yourself. “It is OK. I am unconditionally and deeply loved. I am not my mistakes. God made me this way on purpose and who am I to doubt God? I am enough goof ups and all.” The voice in your head needs to be one of kindness toward yourself so you can in turn be kind to others. Never forget to give yourself a little love my dear ones. You deserve it.
It’s amazing that something so small can be something so big and sometimes so very hard to do. You have the power every single day to use kindness as a superpower and actually change the world. We wouldn’t ask this of you if you couldn’t do it. We can do hard things, all of us. Be brave. Be you. Be kind.