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Kindness

So it’s been awhile, huh? I mean, I guess I still technically write the Meet Our Village Monday posts but it’s been a bit since I wrote about something else. I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t been taking my own advice. I have always said, “Don’t wait until you feel like writing because most likely, you will rarely end up writing.” It’s felt like a bit of a slump, which as moms/parents/humans, I think we can all relate to at some point in our lives. Anyway, enough of that. I’m here. You’re here. Let’s see what I have up my sleeves for you today, shall we?

Today is World Kindness Day. Did you know that? I was doing some research about the day and I love that it was created “to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us.” Kindness, compassion, love, grace… So many positive and hopeful things can come from such (seemingly) simple acts. There is such great power in words but there is even greater power in our actions. How do we SHOW kindness, how do we SHOW compassion, how do we SHOW love, how do we SHOW grace. This can take more effort than letting words flow from our lips. When we learn how to put those words into action---well, that’s when true change occurs. And it’s important to know that change doesn’t just happen in those we are directing our actions towards. The change happens within ourselves, too.

When I was in college, I reached this point in my life where I needed to do something really out of my comfort zone. Life was not super great and I needed a change. I applied for a job with an amazing organization called YouthWorks and was placed on a team with three other college-aged students (who I didn’t meet until our first day of training). We were assigned to the YouthWorks site in inner city Philadelphia and slept on the floor of a church for the summer. During that summer, we helped high school youth groups from around the country serve the community around us. It was the hardest, most amazing time of my life. Honestly, before I became a mother, it was one of the few times in my life where I could have said, “This is exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life right now.” It was so freeing and hopeful and exciting to have such clarity. A couple of weeks into that summer, I remember that our team was discussing how to lovingly communicate how important it was to care for and serve others, even when it’s a challenge and even if it feels like we aren’t doing anything important. I came across these Bible verses that I began sharing each week with the groups that came to serve with us and I’d love to share them with you guys, too. I think that by now most of you know that my Christian faith is essential to my life. I fully acknowledge that some of you have different religious affiliations or perhaps no religious affiliation. I also believe that we all have a core set of beliefs that governs how we live our lives and, well, on this World Kindness Day, I think it’s safe to say that “kindness” is definitely something we can all agree with. With all that said, I hope that regardless of your religious (or non religious) beliefs, we can all recognize some value in these words.

Luke 6:35-38 (The Message version)

“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.”

We are all in need of generosity and kindness. So I would like to offer you a challenge. It’s certainly not a challenge that will not garner you any gifts from FIT4MOM Grand Rapids or a gold medal at the end of the day. In the grand scheme of life, I think it will do much more than that. I’m challenging you to a Random Acts of Kindness (RAOK) challenge. I thought about saying, “The challenge is for two weeks” but, well, it feels kind of counterproductive to put a time limit on acts of kindness so you do you. Honestly, a RAOK doesn’t have to be something grandiose. You can challenge yourself to compliment three strangers tomorrow. You can challenge yourself to put quarters in a whole bunch of carts at Aldi. Send someone a “just because” note in the mail. Let someone go in front of you in line. Rake leaves for someone. Leave your server a generous tip.

Involve your children in this, too. It is never too early to teach our children the importance of caring for and about others. Here are some links for ideas, including one that has ideas for families, and, of course, there are even more out there if you do a quick Google/Pinterest/whatever search.

Ideas #1

Ideas #2

Ideas #3

Ideas #4

Something I have always appreciated and admired about FIT4MOM Grand Rapids is the amount of acceptance, love, encouragement, support, and kindness that is present in this group. We are all works in progress, ever growing and learning, and I look forward to continuing to grow and learn from each one of you as we continue to pursue lives that reflect the kind of future and world that we want for our children.

Lots of love to you all.

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