“If you stop to be kind you must swerve often from your path.” —Mary Webb
Over time I’ve come to embrace kindness as one of my core values. I deeply admire how kind people really see and care about people, and how their interactions with others communicate genuine respect. Characteristically kind people recognize and respond to the dignity housed in every human being’s heart. You can see the kindness in their eyes; I want eyes like that.
Kindness undoubtedly affects close relationships, too. An older friend who has been an inspirational mentor in my life once shared the simple traits he thought spouses need to cultivate in order to form a solid marriage. His beliefs may have since changed, but at that time he boiled the matter down to three key necessities:
1. Hearts that love and pursue God and daily spiritual connection.
2. Mental and emotional stability.
He had discovered along his many-year marital journey that little acts of kindness—and the respect, value, and honor they communicate—go a long way. Though I’ve never been married, I’ve surely seen the same principle at work and I suspect you have too.
Another elderly friend regularly reminds me that “ministry is in the interruptions.” Those unforeseen intrusions that mess with “my” schedule (as if anything in my life, even my very breath, isn’t a gift from God); those friends that need to talk deep when my introverted side is in high gear; those ill-timed requests for help when I’d rather focus on my own to-do list…those are sometimes (often times?) the very things that I need to say yes to. They are invitations to swerve from my own path and to generously pass along the same kindness that has been shown to me time and time again. Though these instances may initially look and feel like annoyances, they often turn out to be the bearers of the biggest blessings. It can be hard to remember that in the moment…
With these two thoughts in mind—the extraordinary potential of ordinary kindness and the importance of embracing interruptions—I revisit the words of Mary Webb: :”If you stop to be kind you must swerve often from your path.”
Are you swerving often?