So I’ve been thinking a lot about kindness.  Over the last few weeks and months, I’ve learned what kindness is (and what ISN”T kindness) practically but I’ve been thinking about what the word itself means, how it’s different from other similar words- like goodness, sweetness, nice-ness etc- and what it means to be “kind”.  I’ve been wondering if I am kind.
I haven’t really spent a lot of time looking up root words, or researching translations and original meanings of words and such, (although I always appreciate when other people share those little tidbits), but as I was thinking about “kindess” as being one of the “fruits of the Spirit” mentioned in Galatians it occurred to me that there are only 9 mentioned there so for KINDNESS to be one of them specifically- it must be pretty important, to Jesus anyway.  (As an aside, can anyone hear “fruit of the Spirit” without singing the little tune you leaned them to oh so long ago?  ๐Ÿ™‚
So the Greek word used in Galatians 5:22 is:  chrฤ“stotฤ“s
(no idea how to say it).    Incidentally it notes that it is a feminine noun.  Hmmmm.
From the brief looking I did, it can “acceptably” be translated as either-
1) moral goodness, integrity
   – which is how it is used in some instances in the Bible, but also as
2) benignity, kindness
   – which is how it is used in Galatians in the “fruit of the Spirit” verses.

It signifies “not merely goodness as a quality, rather it is goodness in action, goodness expressing itself in deeds; yet not goodness expressing itself in indignation against sin, for it is contrasted with severity in Rom 11:22, but in grace and tenderness and compassion.” *
[* From Notes on Galatians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 292.]

(Please don’t take anything I say as anything other than my thoughts and musings and the more I looked at this word the more complicated it got- if you’re really interested here’s a link that is even more enlightening….but in the interest of time and detail I’ll leave it at that:  )

ANYWAY- all that to say that as I was thinking about what kindness was, this concept of “goodness in action” seemed to capture for me what I think of kindness as.

For example:
A couple of weeks ago I had to have an NG (nasogastric tube placed) for a procedure.  It wasn’t pleasant. ( I have ordered and even placed many of these in my medical career and while I would consider myself a pretty empathetic doctor, I can now say I am truly empathetic with that procedure and will be more compassionate in the future….) but the point of my story is that after the tube was placed and while the procedure was being performed, I was calm but probably visibly a little anxious.  The technician who was punching all the buttons and running the machines while the other technician was giving me instructions, quietly reached from under her hijaab (Muslim head covering) with her free hand, took my hand in hers and held it there for the next 15-20 minutes until we were done. (It is not lost on me that I just returned from a Muslim country as a member of the military in what is a complicated situation to put it very very simply). That was kindness.
A very busy nurse in one of my many nursing encounters over the last few months noticed that I seemed a little distressed over something (and in the big scheme of things it was something small) but after completing her rounds, she came back to my cubicle, sat down and acknowledged that I was sad, and that I had reason to be, and wanted to know if there was anything small or large she could do to make it even a little bit better.  That was kindness.

(I am convinced by the way, that the nursing profession has a monopoly on kindness- “goodness in action”).

I won’t give you examples of “un-kindness”.  I have a feeling we can all think of a few.

So- the real question is then…AM I KIND?  Do I practice and live “goodness in action”?  How many hours, days, weeks??, back do I have to go to remember the last time I was “goodness in action” to someone?  It’s really not that hard, but it does require one thing that I am working on- (it’s on my new list of 36 things to do this year in honor of my 36th birthday)….which is BEING PRESENT IN THE MOMENT I AM IN.  For 36 years I’ve been rushing from one thing to the next, multi-tasking, consolidating as much as possible to as many electronic devices as possible, checking things off my to-do list at high speed, and MISSING so many moments.  To be kind, we have to look for people to be kind to, for opportunities to be goodness in action- we have to be present and focus outside ourselves. 

This year, I’m committing to practicing kindness.  Anybody with me?  Would love to hear your thoughts!


7 thoughts on “Kindness

  1. Anonymous October 26, 2010 / 12:47 am

    Dawn…I want to be with you. As Tony was 2,500 miles away for the last 6 days, I experienced kindness from a few of my friends, even Tony as he arranged so many things for me in advance of his leave. I'd like to share the one that impacted me most. On Friday ( Tony had been gone 4 days at this point) after we left our all-day enrichment classes I had to make the dreaded stop at Wal-Mart with three tired children( including a 3 yr old who hadn't had a nap :/). And I was one TIRED mama! I ran into a sister from my church…we chatted about trivial things and as she walked away she asked when Tony would be home and if there was anything I needed. Of course I thought "YES!!–a babysitter, a maid, a massage…" but I replied "No, not really, we are great. See you Sunday!" A few minutes later I met her again, and she was approaching me intently. She took my hand and said "You are tired and you don't need to cook tonight. Take this $20 and buy your babies dinner and then go home and rest and enjoy them." Tears welled up and the lump in my throat almost choked me. It wasn't that this was a HUGE act, just that she met a need–emotionally and physically -in me that only the Holy Spirit and I knew about at that moment. That's kindness…from my Father, through my sister.Love you!! Edie

  2. Dawn October 26, 2010 / 6:37 pm

    Edie- THANKS for sharing! That's exactly what I was hoping would happen! What an encouraging, sweet story of kindness ๐Ÿ™‚ Love you-Dawn

  3. Renee October 26, 2010 / 8:01 pm

    I remember being a teenager and hanging out with my girlfriends, at their home, in the back seat of their momma's car, etc. On "occasion", I guess, our conversations crossed the line and became gossip. One mom in particular would pipe up and say "Girls Girls, Be Ye Kind, Jeremiah 2:9." Of course she was referring to the kindness of words rather than deeds but kindness none the less. One day I decided to look up the scripture Mrs. Eleanor frequently referred to and found out that it did not say anything about kindness! When I confronted my friends precious momma with this truth she said "Yes Renee', but kindness IS in the Bible. I just don't know of one that rhymes." Today I find myself driving teenage boys around town and have had several opportunities to say "Boys Boys, Be Ye Kind, Jeremiah 2:9." Thanks Mrs. Eleanor for your example of kindness and for giving me a parenting tool I can use. BTW, I checked and she was right!And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.Ephesians 4:32 (King James Version)Thanks Dawn for this blog and for patterning kindness as well!Love you,Renee'

  4. Robyn October 27, 2010 / 7:33 am

    Okay, reading this inspired me so much that I am acting on a "nudge" right now to be kind to a friend AS I WRITE THIS! I'm so excited! It really is much more fun to give than to receive. Thanks for sharing this bc I wouldn't have even acknowledged that "nudge" if I hadn't read this blog. Gosh, I love you! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Dawn October 27, 2010 / 7:30 pm

    Love your story Renee'- now I'm gonna be thinking that to myself :)Robyn- cool! Thanks for writing- keeps me inspired to keep thinking/growing/writing when I hear what others are doing ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. themccann5 November 7, 2010 / 12:10 pm

    I can't say that I have felt "committed" to being kind, but over the last two weeks God has been "nudging" me to show kindness to someone. I fought it SO hard for a week, because in order to show this kindness I was going to have to give up my perfect little life (or my idea of having the perfect life). Now, two weeks later I realize that all the turmoil, struggle, hardship of the last month was for one thing: to teach me how to be kind, so I could spend some quality time loving on someone that needed nothing more than to just feel that love ALL around her. So, as I'm getting ready for work tonight and my baby (who is totally a Mama's boy) reaches out of my arms to go to his MeeMaw. My eyes filled with tears and I just smiled as I looked at the grin on her face. Thank you God for giving me this opportunity!

  7. Dawn November 8, 2010 / 6:26 am

    That my sweet sweet sister is truly inspirational! Thanks for sharing ๐Ÿ™‚

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