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.
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!