Be kind. I feel like we hear that phrase a lot lately; but how much and how often do we really let it sink in? For such a simple phrase, it has so much meaning and depth. Being kind, as simple as it is, sometimes takes really stepping outside of ourselves in order to genuinely be kind to one another.
I don't know how many posts this would make with me saying this... but I'm going to say it again; life is hard. It is dang hard. I know for me, this year I have felt like I have been trying and trying my best. Often times, to what feels like, no avail, and only to feel like I've been pushed back down.
Learning, growing, and healing are tricky and complicated processes. They are individual and the journey is unique to each of us. Despite the deeply personal and individual nature of these things, there will always be people who seem to have a pressing need to take major part in these processes.
It can be so easy to criticize and make unfair judgements based off of a glimpse of what we see in other people's lives. But if I've learned anything through all the crap I've gone through, it's that those who really, truly want to help are the ones who take care to learn what is really going on in my life.
This topic of "being kind" is prone to having a lot of different facets. We could think about the obvious name calling, yelling, putting people down, and all of the other blatant things we know to be "unkind". While these are all things that are important to be taught to our children and to be aware of, I want to talk more about being kind in the way of not judging each other.
It is not our job to judge or tear each other down. It is not our job to make sure someone is being punished because of what we may feel they have done wrong, (unless you're like a school principle, or a police officer... or an actual judge or something; but that's beside the point). It is not our job to make assumptions about another person's life based on the little we see, no matter how much insight we think we may have.
Here is why: we have no idea sometimes how incredibly damaging it can be to the person we may think we are actually helping. It is not, absolutely not, our job to tear someone down when we feel they have done something that goes against what we would have done. Doing these things can inadvertently rip away that person's sense of worth that they are more than likely already struggling with.
Of course we want to help those we know and love... but doing so in any way but from a place of love, often will only further validate and impress upon the person in need that they are a failure and beyond any point of hope. Because what we may not know, is they are already trying their very best under their current circumstances. What we don't know, is they are probably already hyperaware and beating themselves up on their own for their shortcomings. What we don't know is that they are working on it. What we don't know, is that they are fighting for it, despite the many other silent and unseen battles they are fighting . What we don't know, we. don't. know.
I have so many thoughts about this. I could go into way more depth, but I will spare you all for tonight. I don't pretend to be a perfect person, I know I certainly can do better at being more kind... but I just want to leave one last sentiment with you all; when the inclination to judge someone comes... which it will, I'm not going to sit here and pretend it isn't natural... before acting and letting your thoughts run wild with that initial reaction or judgement, take a moment, and ask yourself some things. Some of these questions you might ask could include: 'Is what I am seeing/hearing the whole picture?' If your answer is yes then ask, "What evidence do I have that leads me to believe I have the whole picture?" "What could be going on in this person's life that is leading them to make the choices they are making?" "Are my judgements coming from a place of feeling rubbed the wrong way because it's not what I would do?" Or "Am I feeling this way because I am concerned and I care?"
Whatever questions we may choose to ask, or whatever the answers... if it's something that we cannot seem to shake that leads us to feel the need to intervene, it's important to make sure it is done with the upmost care. Care being the key word here. If it is coming from any place other than that, even if it's just a little bit - it's probably best to not say anything - because it will come across in the approach.
Life is a struggle right now, for everyone. We are all trying to navigate this massive bust of a year. I think it's safe to say we have all fallen short in our own ways. So why are we making it so much harder on each other? There is no better time than now to try to listen, understand, and empathize with one another. Mosiah 18 says it best:
...and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places...