THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS – April 2005
Every year, on my birthday, my friend, Anne, sends me a lengthy text, sharing her love for me, and telling me what qualities she sees in me. I keep these texts. I love each one. It is a kindness she offers me, annually, and something I look forward to on my birthdays.
When I was pregnant with my second child, serving in the Deaf Branch in NYC, and teaching piano from my apartment on the Upper East Side, my friend, Jill, asked me if she could bring me dinner one Wednesday night. I was so grateful for the meal. Then she asked me if she could bring me dinner the next Wednesday night. This dear friend brought me dinner every Wednesday night, without fail, the entire pregnancy, and then the first year of Liam’s life. Once I tried to stop her. I didn’t want her to at all feel obligated to feed us weekly. She said to me, “Please let me do this. This is a way I can serve. Please let me do this thing.”
In London, when Bryant and I first learned about Matthew’s condition, so many friends and family prayed for us and sent us messages, etc. My sister prayed, asking the Lord what she could do to better help us. The answer that came to her was to email me, every day, to share her life with me, and to be there for me, when I needed someone. And she has now written me, every day, for almost 8 years. Not only are they incredibly fun to read, but it is easy to share with her, back. I don’t need to explain or try to remember where we left off. She is a kind, wise, and “updated” ear to hear me and to love me, where I am at.
Bryant, every single day, is kindness embodied. Marriage matters to him. Kindness matters to him.
“Kindness is the essence of a celestial life. Kindness is how a Christlike person treats others. Kindness should permeate all of our words and actions at work, at school, at church, and especially in our homes.”
I want to write about kindness today, using Elder Wirthlin’s words.
KINDNESS AT CHURCH AND IN OUR SCHOOLS AND NEIGHBORHOODS:
“The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings. The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.”
“Each one of us will travel a different road during this life. Each progresses at a different rate. Temptations that trouble your brother may not challenge you at all. Strengths that you possess may seem impossible to another.
Never look down on those who are less perfect than you. Don’t be upset because someone can’t sew as well as you, can’t throw as well as you, can’t row or hoe as well as you.
We are all children of our Heavenly Father. And we are here with the same purpose: (1) to learn to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2) to love our neighbor as ourselves.”
“One way you can measure your value in the kingdom of God is to ask, ‘How well am I doing in helping others reach their potential? Do I support others in the Church, or do I criticize them?'”
KINDNESS IN OUR HOMES:
“Nothing exposes our true selves more than how we treat one another in the home.”
KINDNESS TO OURSELVES:
What about kindness to ourselves. It seems to me that the kinder I am to myself, the more natural it feels to be kind to others. The less I judge myself, the less I judge others.
When I was first studying this General Conference address, it occurred to me that I need to walk peaceably with myself. I need to, in whatever way I show up in a day, love myself.
Can the following quote apply to the kindness we show to ourselves?
“When we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental. The Savior taught, ‘Judge not … condemn not … forgive.’
‘But,’ you ask, ‘what if people are rude?’
‘If they are obnoxious?’
‘But what if they offend? Surely I must do something then?’
The answer is the same. Be kind. Love them.”
What if I am rude and I see myself being short with those around me?
What if I am obnoxious and I don’t like how I am showing up in the world?
What if I offend others and am offended by what others do to me or say to me? I surely should berate myself and beat myself up for not being who I “should” be being.
What if the choices I make in my life lead me away from who and where I want to be?
The answer is the same. Be kind to myself. Be curious about why I am where I am – what is going on in my thoughts, what story am I telling myself, and do I want to end up with the results of those thoughts and those stories. Yes, I should be curious. But I cannot make changes in my life – not permanent changes in the direction I want to be headed – unless I love me.
“And of some have compassion, making a difference.”Jude 1:22