Originally published in the Miami News-Record on December 21, 2014
Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” (KJV) As I sit here at my computer on a very quiet Friday morning, I am pondering the very idea of kindness.
A few weekends ago I had a humiliating experience at an area Walmart. I won’t go into detail, but let’s suffice it to say that the person who was the humiliator went way beyond where he should have with what I’m sure he thought were clever quips and “jokes”. However, to a momma on a limited budget every day of the year, Christmas is just simply a very financially stressing time. My father was two days away from having part of a cancerous kidney removed and I was scheduled to go out of town to be with him – my stress level was already maxed and threatening to exceed its limits anyway. I left the store in tears while he grinned at his cleverness. Why couldn’t he have just been kind?
Just yesterday my mom, sister, and I spent the day trying to finish our Christmas shopping. The three of us hadn’t had a day out together in….well, I couldn’t tell you because it had been so long. In the 13 hours we were in Joplin we saw a menagerie of folks, from all walks of life, in just about every demeanor possible.
We had doors held open for us – and doors left to close as we struggled to get stroller, bags, and selves out of the drizzling rain quicker. A few folks saw we had dropped a bag or box and stooped to pick it up and hand it back with a smile. As I was holding a pile of bags back in an attempt to avoid an avalanche of plastic and purchases, my sister was trying to shove a gigantic parcel into back of the car. A box slid out and hit the ground with a thump. I made eye contact with an approaching woman and smiled. She looked down at the box that had fallen, looked up at us doing a comical disaster avoidance drill, looked away and walked on like we had suddenly become invisible.
Once as I was again trying to keep bags from sliding onto the wet pavement and Sis was trying to gather up the three carts that we had just emptied, a woman saw Sis heading toward the door with the carts, opened the door as little as possible to slip in, then let it close, never looking back. I saw the incredulous look on my sister’s face, but before either of us could exclaim our amazement, a woman with a giant smile quickly ran to the door to hold it open and wish my sister a Merry Christmas.
I have thought of the quote by Ian Maclaren quite a lot lately. “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” How often do we get caught up in our own struggles and schedules, worries and whinings and forget that there are others that have it worse than we do?
I am glad I didn’t lay into the young kid behind the register at Walmart. First, two of my kids were watching my reaction. Second, he was as well. While I probably should’ve held back my tears and instead spoke kind words, at least I didn’t call him the names that were bouncing around in my head.
As I sat fuming in the car on the way home that night Mr. Maclaren’s quote nudged me gently. What if that kid had just gotten his butt chewed by a supervisor? What is his dad has cancer as well? What if his dog had been run over just that morning? I don’t know what his battles were that day, but his need for kind words from me was greater than my need to call out his rudeness. He was fighting his own battles.
So, all that being said, have a Merry Christmas, Constant Reader – and be kind, one to another.