I once told a friend that the party life was no longer for me. When they invited me to their 21st birthday party, I reminded them of what I had previously said and politely declined. However, because my decline was not met with an understanding response, I began to feel like a bad friend. I ended up going to the party. It was an uncomfortable experience and by the end of the night I was in a bad mood and wished I had stayed at home. In the act of wanting to please my friend, I disregarded my wants and needs. In the act of wanting to be “nice” I was unkind to myself and those who bared the brunt of my frustrations.
As children, we are given the freedom to express our wants and needs without feeling guilty or embarrassed, as it is normally met with validation and responsiveness from our primary caregivers. Be it parents or trusted guardians, they have the sole purpose of making sure that we feel loved, safe and provided for. But the truth is, not every caregiver is perfect meaning that some of us grow up viewing our wants and needs as an inconvenience – fearing that the expression of them makes us difficult, needy or rude.
As we get older, this can result in situations like my friend’s party, where I went against my desire to live differently – a way better suited to the woman I want to become. Fear of rejection did not allow me to honour my boundaries. There’s no kindness in this.
A couple things to note about kindness: - Being kind allows you to honour your boundaries, accounting for your physical and mental capacity. - Being kind understands that you do not need to overexert yourself to make others feel comfortable. - Being kind makes you okay with being misunderstood, recognising that not everyone will welcome your growth process.
One of the arguably most misunderstood yet effective person that has ever lived is Jesus. I also think He is one of the best examples of what it looks like to walk in kindness. Jesus had boundaries. Jesus was for the people but He socialised with purpose, not performing miracles just to be seen. He was not concerned with receiving praise from others instead, He was very intentional with how His time and energy was spent. Because He humbled Himself and came in the form of a human, like us, He had to account for his physical and mental wellbeing, often retreating to recharge alone with God.
The kindness Jesus showed Himself is what made Him useful to others. By loving Himself as a priority He was able to go out and share the love of God with others. So, to show up for others we must first love ourselves by setting the appropriate boundaries – which is a form of kindness.
30 And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ 31 The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
Walking in kindness has allowed me to set boundaries more effectively, recognising that I have been placed on the earth for a specific mission. It is important to surround yourself with people who understand and respect your boundaries. It is what makes for healthy relationships, allowing both parties to pour good things into one another. After all, you cannot give what you do not have.
Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Proverbs 3:3 (NLT)
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