It was when I broke both my elbows in 2009 that I got a crash course in accepting kindness. For six weeks, I was blown away by what hands-on community looked and felt like. So many people brought me meals, audiobooks and dvds (this was pre-netflix - life was tough). Others came and did my laundry, straightened my hair and just went for walks with me.
But of course, it's one thing to accept kindness and help when you're in extraordinary circumstances; when you're actually incapacitated. In normal life, though, we should be able to get by on our own. We shouldn't need kindness. We should be able to get it together. That's what we tell ourselves.
But the truth is, we've all been knocked about. We're all fighting battles others don't see. We were all built to lean on others.
We live in a very individualistic, meritocratic, pull-yourself-up-by-your-boots
Kindness seems antithetical. Possibly something we can be pleasantly surprised by on the odd occasion. Certainly not something we should expect. And definitely not something we should count on.
We brush off the compliment. We feel uncomfortable with generosity directed our way. We think the supernatural favour and kindness of God is something that happens to other people, and we can even feel guilty when it happens to us.
But any instinct to push back against kindness, against unearned good directed our way, means we're making it about 'deserving'. And kindness isn't about what we deserve. Kindness, like every fruit of the Holy Spirit, is about our very good God, and the system of the kingdom in which we've been graciously invited to live and to thrive.
God's love for us demonstrates an approach of overflowing kindness, and we know that the way he loves us is the model for how we are to love each other. Kingdom community should look like an abundance of kindness bouncing all around between God and us and others.
Let's model that kind of kingdom community and lifestyle. Let’s celebrate kindness.
Sarah Starrenburg works in strategy and communications for a global not-for-profit. She loves being a part of Nexus, which she’s called home her whole life. Sarah loves great conversation about great ideas, ideally over great coffee!