Kindness. When is the last time you felt kindness from someone? And not simply tulips and roses kind of words or a hug or a post-surgery delivered casserole. The type of kindness best served over a breakfast of biscuits where words are honest and truthful. Where questions of interest are sincere. Where a work call is delayed because you don't want to leave the soothing, safe space created by a kind heart.
Urban Dictionary gets it right. (OK, people don't go to Urban Dictionary because you will probably get more than you bargained for, just trust me on this definition.) The definition from that interesting site reads 'one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. A visible attribute of a true Christian life as found in Galatians 5:22-23. Kindness is doing something and not expecting anything in return. Kindness is respect and helping others without waiting for someone to help one back. It implies kindness no matter what.'
(An entire blog post and book could be written about true Christian life demonstrating kindness. I don't have time for that now. There is a lack though of kindness in our world. Let's all try a bit harder.)
I didn't stop with the Urban Dictionary. I went to another source -- elementary school-aged girls. My 9-year-old twins said kindness means being respectful of others and being selfless. Camille further described kindness as the color green and a big field of grass that calms you but also shows life. Caroline added saying kindness reminds her of the color yellow. She said it is warm and bright like the sun.
I expanded my focus group to include some of Camille's gymnastic teammates. Three continued the color theme. Rory said pink because those things are normally sweet and nice and soft. Rachel saw yellow because it reminds her of happiness. Avery thought of white because it is clean. Avery continued with the idea that kindness also means people don't lie to you and they show you favor.
We were coming fresh off an out-of-town meet and we were enjoying a day in Waco at the Silos with way more people than I thought would be there on a random Friday. Kindness, Jill. Show kindness for other's choices. As a result of just completing a meet, one of the gymnasts, Berlin, said kindness is when you are at the gym and someone is cheering you on.
Kindness is shown me countless times a day. I try to notice each and every one so that I might show gratefulness in some manner. The day of the biscuit-sharing session, I had breakfast with a friend with whom I used to work. We spoke of work, but really spent time talking about being a mom and the desire to continue to learn and grow and contribute. She and I are able to be direct and ask each other tough questions. We also allow for responses that may be more than we want to hear, but need to hear. At one point, after talking for over an hour, she stopped almost mid-sentence in a thought to pause and ask me, 'how are you?' Such a common question, but the way in which she asked, the body language displayed and her focused eyes almost brought me to tears. She wanted to know how I was doing. She cared. She was kind. Even after about two weeks, I can still see her face as she asked the question. Powerful. Not the question in and of itself, but the sincere way in which she asked it and the way in which she waited for the answer.
When you experience true kindness, it's a gift. It's something you want to bottle up or box up and store away to use on a day when kindness is needed. OK, we should show kindness each and every moment each and every day. No doubt. Yet at times, we rush through our day and inadvertently miss opportunities to show kindness.
We can read Bible verses, look at quotes on Instagram, write messages on our mirrors, post notes to remind ourselves to be kind. Why can't we simply be kind all the time? Can kindness be our surrounding environment or habitat? How can we wrap ourselves in kindness and then show kindness?
Kindness is a necessary ingredient for relationships, for humans. There are substitutes, but without the sincerest of kindness, the outcome is not as pure. Imagine substituting kindness with politeness in a recipe for friendship. It would be considerate and respectful, but could it go beyond the surface? Or consider substituting kindness with generousness. Yes, being generous means giving more than expected but does it involve the friendly and considerate factors required in a relationship.
Kindness soothes.Kindness is a balm. Kindness balances the ups and downs in a relationship. There are no substitute ingredients. There are additives.
Caroline and Camille have a slime business. (Yes, that's a thing. Look on Instagram to find all the slimers out there. Or, visit YouTube to watch video after video on slime.) As a part of the slime business, you need supplies. Currently, the girls are trying to keep Instant Snow in stock. This makes cloud slime. The Instant Snow comes in a box the size of instant potato flakes. It's somewhat of a seasonal product, but if you hunt and hunt the shelves of Michael's or go on to Amazon, you can find a box. The 40 percent off coupon at Michael's makes it a real deal.
Without Instant Snow, making cloud slime is not as easy. It's a critical ingredient. There are work-around recipes, but there really isn't a substitute for the box of flakes.
The girls pour out the Instant Snow into a large plastic container and then once the slime is made, it is rolled into the flakes to create the cloud drizzle. The girls knead the slime over and over, allowing the correct amount of Instant Snow to work it's way into the creation.
We don't have another coffee on the books just quite yet, but my former co-worker and now, forever friend, will be getting together soon for a play date with my twin girls and her sweet new baby. We'll show some basic kindness by bringing over food and sending her to her room for some rest. We can talk later.