Kindness Is …

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Noah reads to Allie in a scene from Nicholas Sparks’ “The Notebook.” 

 

The fruit of the Spirit is … kindness. –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Be kind to one another. –Ephesians 4:32 NIV

“We must be active and earnest in kindness, not merely passive and inoffensive.” – Joy and Strength (p. 7)

In a scene in the movie The Notebook, Allie, who is in the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and Noah, whom she no longer remembers as her husband, are chatting in the extended care facility in which they now reside.

Noah recites a quote from a poem they once shared.

“That’s beautiful,” Allie says. “Did you write it?”

Noah smiles softly and answers, “No. Walt Whitman did.”

Allie looks puzzled for a few seconds then says thoughtfully, “Walt Whitman. I think I knew him.”

Noah smiles. “I think you did.”

Now, if that were me, I probably would have launched into a mini-literature lesson. The teacher in me—or the parent—or the perfectionist—just can’t squelch the urge to correct mistakes, to set the record straight.

But Noah doesn’t correct Allie. Setting the record straight isn’t important. Saving her from embarrassment and pain is. Throughout the movie, when Allie asks questions, Noah purposely gives evasive answers.

“On days like these, when her memory is gone, I am vague in my answers because I’ve hurt my wife unintentionally with careless slips of my tongue,” he explains, “and I’m determined not to let it happen again.”

I’ve done that—hurt other people unintentionally with words and deeds that I thought were helpful. It’s not kind, for example, to correct all the typos and errors I see in the church bulletin. Even if no one else sees me scribbling away.

It’s not kind to interrupt my husband’s story because he got a couple of details wrong.

It’s not kind to put my children down in front of others, remind them of past mistakes, make fun of their faults, or make them the butt of a joke.

Kindness is being sensitive to someone’s feelings. It’s helping another person to save face, couching the truth in cushions of love.

Kindness is finding something nice to say about your wife’s appearance when the dress she’s wearing does make her look fat.

Kindness is praising your husband’s attempts at cooking supper and ignoring the overdone meat, the grease splattered three feet in every direction from the stove, and the kitchen that now looks like a disaster area.

Kindness is telling your daughter the floor needed mopped anyway when she puts dishwashing liquid in the dishwasher instead of dishwasher detergent.

Kindness is not calling your son an idiot after he fills up his gas tank with diesel fuel instead of gasoline.

Kindness is baking cookies for that neighbor who’s meaner than a junkyard dog (Romans 15:7).

Kindness is saying something nice about someone who’s not saying nice things about you (Proverbs 19:11).

Kindness is not judging the snippy receptionist in the doctor’s office (Romans 14:13).

Kindness is encouraging that young mother struggling with busy toddlers in the grocery store (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

Kindness is praying for your daughter’s boyfriend even though you think he’s not good enough for her.

You can argue that Noah’s kindness was born of love. True.

But as I thought about kindness, I realized that kindness and love are intertwined. One cannot be divorced from the other.

Perhaps that’s why the word “fruit” in “the fruit of the Spirit” is singular.

Dear God, show me ways to be kind to others today. Amen.

Read and reflect on the Book of Ruth.

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

That’s What Parents Do

 The fruit of the Spirit is love . . . – Galatians 5:23(RSV)

We love, because He first loved us. – 1 John 4:19 (RSV)

 At first I thought I had a flat tire. I was on my way to Johnstown to take my college-age son to the doctor’s. He’d called earlier, asking me what my schedule was for the day.

“I have a list of things to do,” I said. “Why?”

“Never mind,” he mumbled.

Turns out he needed a ride to the doctor’s office because he couldn’t shake a weeks-long bout with congestion and persistent coughing, and his car was in the repair shop—that is, Dad’s repair shop, with possibly a blown motor. My husband had driven to Johnstown two days earlier to bring it home and, hopefully, fix it or get it fixed. At our expense, of course. Most college kids don’t have the money it takes to fix cars. At least, ours doesn’t. He barely had enough to keep it running.

So I put aside my do-list, gathered the makings of homemade chicken soup, stuffed my checkbook in my purse, and headed for Johnstown. That’s what parents do.

It was on the other side of Northern Cambria that I heard the whoomp-whoomp-whoomp. I pulled over, put on the four-ways, and got out. None of the tires, though, were flat. But as I walked in front of my 11-year-old Explorer, which boasts nearly 164,000 miles, I heard what sounded like little stones hitting the inside of the hood. I checked the gauges—all were showing normal readings. The sound soon ceased, and, after checking the gauges again and listening to the engine, which sounded like it always does, I was on my way.

That evening, with half a tank of gas less than I had before my unexpected trip and $57 more on my credit card (for medicine—that’s what parents do), I arrived home. My husband popped the hood, examined the engine, then came and got me.

“Look.” He pointed to the belt that runs the engine and just about everything else.

It was split in half—but lengthwise. Although half the belt was twisted up and useless, the other half still held, running the engine and getting me home safely.

“You ran on prayer. He scratched his head. “I don’t know how that held.”

Or how the broken half didn’t twist around the motor, stopping everything.

I grinned.

“My Father,” I said, the warm fuzzy reaching from my heart to my lips, “takes good care of me.”

You see, that’s what parents do.

Dear God, thank You for Your awesome love for and care of me. It’s exceedingly abundantly above all I can ask or imagine. Amen.

Read and reflect on 1 John 4:7–21.

For more on God’s love, read Romans 8: 31-39; Ephesians 3:17-20; Psalm 139; Psalm 103:11; Isaiah 43:4 … gee, the entire Bible is filled with His love for us!

From God, Me, & a Cup of Tea, Vol. 3, © 2019 Michele Huey.