An iddy, biddy thought on kindness

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I wrote last week that it is an arrogant assumption to believe everyone likes you. There will be people along the way who  just won’t. Period. Ouch. Arrogant, too, is the assumption that the reason, if it should exist at all, has to do with you. Well that makes it a little easier to bear…

Today, however, I want to take that topic in a different direction.

We have to let ourselves be loved, to be liked, to allow others to draw us in…and we have to be receptive. Easy enough when things are going well in your life.  Easy enough if we don’t have to give away some part of ourselves in the process of receiving or reciprocating love.

But what about when the universe decides to cash in on some unsettled karma?

My husband was in the military for eight years, and in that time I slowly shut out family and friends; retreating into my own loneliness and isolation. Kate was pretty young, so she was unaffected by my choice to withdraw from life; we had each other, and I could take or leave just about anyone else.  I mostly left them. Brian’s last deployment was in Iraq, and by then I had pretty much abandoned most of my friendships and only really saw my in-laws(who lived down the street at the time) or my parents. And that was only because they wouldn’t let me drop off the family radar long enough to wallow in my solitary existence

And, get this–after I succeeded in pushing everyone away…I got mad at them–at all of them– for not being there for me! Yeah, can you believe it! How much sense does that make? It wasn’t until Brian had been back for a few years that I mended some of those friendships; others died a painful death never to be resurrected.

Why do we do that?  Sometimes in our darkest hours we can push people away and then become angry at them for not being there for us. When we are weak, it seems too humbling to let others shoulder our burden, to in effect, submit to another’s kindness.  For some, too, one’s self esteem can sink quite low, and that can cloud one’s judgment; there must be something wrong with them, if they like me.

Well, guess what?  People don’t have to have a reason to be kind, either.

Those stubborn friends and family members who would not deem my sulky, solitary lifestyle as acceptable, I just have one thing to say to you–Thanks.  Thanks for giving me the time to crawl out of my self induced solitude and join the land of the living.

It’s arrogant to believe you aren’t worthy of someone’s love…or their “like”, for that matter.  And if someone takes a moment out of his own drudgery to be kind, accept it graciously, take it as a compliment that he saw you in the midst of the fast paced craziness of this world, or perhaps he saw you in the midst of his own heartache or tribulations. It may take a person only a second to bestow a smile, to hold a door, or to do a random act of kindness…and in a second that someone is  gone without the expectation of gratitude or the knowledge of the lasting impact of his or her thoughtfulness.  Lucky is the person who has someone stick by him and see him through a hardship. If a person will do that for anyone of us in a world where independence and silent suffering is hailed as strength, and sadly so, the least we can do is allow him or her to be kind; at most we must pay it forward.  Father Jerry Riney once said,”There is never an excuse to be unkind.” It’s that simple.  And the road goes both ways.

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Romans 12:9-13

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