Yesterday at church our pastor gave an excellent sermon. It was part of a series called Thrive and this week's focus was on kindness. Now I don't think I've suffered from the delusion that I'm a kind person in general. Sure, if I saw a person on the side of the road (good samaritan) I'd stop to help them if my kids weren't in the car. Probably. I'd at least call for help. But I wouldn't pay their way. Don't get me wrong, I am ridiculously empathetic (it's kind of a problem) and loving to the extreme, and I'm kind to those I love. But being kind to maybe 40 people out of 6 billion doesn't a kind person make. You would have to listen to the sermon here to really understand the rest of my reflections.
Kurt described 3 types of people: takers, keepers, and traders. I am definitely the first two. As far as being a trader, I don't think so. For those loved ones, I am unfailingly kind. And I don't keep score or expect a fair trade. I just expect love in return. Now this is the shade of gray. On one of those rare occurances when I do need that person to be there for me in some way, if they aren't, I cut them off. It's a defense mechanism learned after years of being taken advantage of. Part of me thinks I should try to change this. But the larger part admits that it has weeded out a lot of people who didn't really care for me as I'd thought they did.
It's not something I have really ever focused on or acknowledged, but I do want to be more kind. I've already added "Learning to Forgive" to my running list of New Years Resolutions for 2012. Why not now? A) I've got too many things on my plate and this is going to require a lot from me. B) I'm the kind of person that needs a blank page to start fresh if you know what I mean. It may only be psychological. I'm aware of that. That's just how I am.
I think that God has acknowledged this desire in me because I've seen some recent subtle changes that I wasn't even aware of until this sermon. On a side note, I have to say that I'm so thankful that He's always watching and paying attention and sometimes, shouldering the responsibility of difficult changes that I want to see in myself. But back to the sermon and it's effect on me. Kurt spoke about how you can tell if you're a kind person by how you use your resources: your time and your money. This is an excellent yard stick because that's what we value most. and you have to give both. Not just one. Many people have an excess of money, and they give it without a second thought, but they can't be bothered to give their time to those who need it. However, this is also why I've felt guilty- I don't have much of either of those things. But God spoke to my heart during the sermon and pointed out that "resources" are not limited to those two alone. When I have excess of either, of course I should give. But for now, I have other resources I can give.
For example, our new place is rather different from our last. Because it is so much smaller, there's a lot of stuff leftover. I've held on to baby clothes, maternity clothes, clothes I've outgrown, etc for years and years with the intention of eventually selling them or reusing them. This is just silly for a number of reasons: I'm not having any more kids, if I've listed them on ebay once and they haven't sold, it's really not worth housing them from years while I waste time and energy trying to relist them, many of these things were given to me to begin with! So I'm making my peace with it. So far, it's going really well. I feel a lot lighter.