Be kind. Now.

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Last January I decided I stink so badly at keeping New Year’s resolutions that I was only going to make ONE. I figured I might be able to do just one. For 2013, I was going to be kind. So many of the saints saw a connection between kindness and holiness. It seemed pretty simple. And beautiful. And do-able. How hard could it be (just) to be kind to people? Wasn’t I already (mostly) kind to (most) people (mostly) all the time already? But it turns out that being kind can be terrifically challenging, at least for me. I had to admit just how often I was failing to be kind and that turned out to be a lot.

Let me back up and explain a little. My unkindnesses are generally of the hidden variety. The quick, harsh judgment of someone’s appearance or behavior. The mind that jumps to conclusions making the heart take offense where none was meant. The tendency to put myself and my needs and wants above anyone else’s. Being selfish, in other words. And we know that pride–the father of all sins–is at the heart of selfishness. This makes it hard to be truly kind. And by “kind” I mean being charitable, patient and generous in spirit.

In the morning I’d pray that the Holy Spirit would fill me with kindness and patience and love. Then the day would begin and I’d soon find myself being impatient and angry and judgmental. I kept getting in God’s way. I realized that, like a recovering addict, I had to “do” kindness on a moment-by-moment basis. An alcoholic doesn’t stay in recovery by living in the future–he or she remains sober by living in the now. So I applied that same strategy to my addiction to selfishness. I would cooperate with God’s grace in each moment. Rather than praying, “Lord, help me to be kind today,” I pray, “Lord, help me to be kind at this moment.” If I can allow His kindness and charity live through me in this moment, perhaps I can be kind in this next minute, the next hour, this afternoon. The more I let go of the idea of a year-long resolution, the more I became able to be authentically kind right now.

Reflecting God’s charity in every moment of our lives is a way that we can participate with Him in building the kingdom of God. There is so much darkness in our world, yet every small act of kindness helps His light to grow. Like a ripple in a pond, kindness grows on kindness and sends out its effects into the world. In that sense, no act of kindness is “random”–each one works together for God’s good purpose.

St. Paul writes “…all things have been created through [Christ] and for Him. He Himself is before all things and in Him all things hold together (Colossians 1:16-17). One of the “things” that Jesus holds together is me. And you. And all of creation. We are all thoughts in the mind of God–at this very moment. Following Christ means allowing Him to live in our hearts moment-by-moment, in every situation, in every circumstance. Being kind is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and it marks us as His children. As another new year begins, a year made up of “moments,” may we allow the love of Christ to transform each “now” into a ripple of kindness in the world’s pond.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.”
—Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

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