This month, I interviewed my friend Colleen. I know a lot of really kind people, but Colleen came to mind as one of those people with a heart so big that kindness seems to burst forth all the time! I hope you find her answers to my questions inspiring!
What does being kind mean to you?
To me, kindness is a combination of two things that need to blend together. First off kindness is an action (i.e. bringing someone a meal or offering a welcoming hug,), but kindness is also an essence. It’s a quality that is noticed in little ways. It can be found in a tone of voice, in the warmth of some one’s eyes, in the tenderness of a heart moved on behalf of others. We can all perform works out of duty or pride, which is why I see kindness as a partnership between the heart and the hands. I know for me, my heart just wells up for others and moves me to reach out and pour into them. However, It is important for me to stay aware of the motives of my heart. I can certainly do kind things without tenderness, love, or kindness in my heart.
What inspires you to be kind?
God, my mom, my babies, my husband, my family, my community, myself. When kindness is overflowing from my heart I know that I am loving others in the way God has called me. Kindness is a calling; it’s my calling. I know how to love because of kindness. Because of the Kindness shown to me by my Sweet Savior, and by others that have deeply cared about the condition of my heart. My whole life I have witnessed kindness firsthand. My mom has an open heart and an open home that she uses to love on and pour love into the lives that surround her. Kindness is simply beautiful to behold. In life we seek beauty. As women we desire to embody beauty. Never have I seen beauty better illustrated than through acts of kindness.
What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you, and why did you find it so kind?
Someone reached out. They didn’t have to and I don’t think they knew the desperate need. When I was younger my family experienced a brokenness. We were fresh from the pit of it when my small family, my dad, my mom, my younger brother and I, were relocated far from home. A family there scooped us up. They brought us into their lives, they invited us to their church, they loved on us, and welcomed us into their family. I’ll never forget the immense amount of kindness shown. It changed our lives. All of ours. To them it may have been small, but to us it was big! It was something we never experienced, a love we had never really witnessed. I’ll love that family my whole life. This was so kind and stands out as the kindest thing anyone has done for me because it was so above and beyond, just an immense amount of love and time and they didn’t need to give. But they did and I am forever grateful. They didn’t know what we had just been through, and likewise I don’t know everyone’s story. I may never know how demonstrating kindness effects the people I encounter.
How do you teach kindness to your children?
I have a son, four years old, and a daughter, one year old, and it’s a beautiful job that I have laid before me to grow little people. When I think about their lives in the future, which I know all parent dream about, I try and imagine the type of people they will become: a doctor, an athlete, a marine biologist who specializes with sharks (ok, that may be me projecting my own dreams on them!). He might be a bookworm and she a social butterfly. But as I have dwelt upon these futuristic thoughts, It ultimately doesn’t matter what occupation they will hold, or which sport they will fall in love with. All I want for my kids is to live their lives in pursuit of God’s will and to be kind. I believe that demonstrating these qualities oneself is the best way to teach these qualities to your children. I attempt to be careful with my words and watch my tone of voice. I treat them with kindness and respect first and then come alongside them to help then be kind to others. I remind my son to “speak sweet”: I say that a lot to him :-).
Another important way I teach kindness to my kids is to teach them to look outside of themselves. We are such a “me”-centered society, but I want my kids to grow up helping others; I want to train them to think of others. We sponsor a young boy in Africa right now, and my son and I will sit down and write to him. We talk about him and the differences between the worlds we live in. I want my son to send Ekuwam a letter, but more than that I desire for his heart to learn to love and extend kindness to others. How could I expect him to grow up and be particularly kind if it is not something we practice in our daily lives? Which is why I love opening my home for the youth in our area. Is it crazy sometimes? Of course! Would it be easier to give and love on others if I slept through the night and didn’t have young kids? Probably! But I sincerely want to serve and extend a kindness most people might not experience. The added bonus of this is that my kids are watching and modeling us. It is key we are examples of such qualities and help show them what a person seeking God’s heart looks like.
How do you stay kind in a world where people are so rude?
I pray to see people through God’s eyes and to love people with God’s heart. This may seem like an easy answer, but it is a prayer and effort I make daily. As believers we know how immense God’s love is for us and how we don’t deserve that kind of love. We can’t make Him love us any less or any more. He loves us perfectly. He loves all of His creation perfectly—every person. The mean ones, the tough ones, the lazy ones, the frustrating ones. It doesn’t matter how we categorize people in our human minds. That person is 100% God’s masterpiece and the same God who is in love with me is madly in love them. I really do attempt to look at everyone this way, look at them like He does. Treat them and love them, like God does me. And perhaps God’s love will pour through me and into someone who will be forever changed. The world today thinks about “me” first, I’m trying to think about Him first all the time and He has great big heart who fiercely loves the people in this world. God commands two things: love Him and love others. Godly love poured out equals kindness in action!