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.