Tuesday, June 3, 2014

some thoughts on kindness

I know, this blog of mine is kind of all over the place, but I just found this post I wrote over on our family's private blog last September.  Sadly, I had completely forgotten about it!  And it was a great reminder for me of the things that I need to be working on.  Kindness goes such a long way and it's something I think about everyday.  There are some points in here that are religious, not because I'm trying to be preachy, but because my faith is part of who I am.  So please, if you feel so inclined to comment, do so with kindness and know that I wrote this with only the best of feelings. *as always, click images for sources*

I have had thoughts weighing heavily on my mind lately and I felt that it was finally time to write about them.  There are always articles and blog posts floating around on Facebook and Pinterest about how we as women and mothers are tearing ourselves and each other apart.  I feel that this has reached epidemic proportions and it breaks my heart.  It also hurts to know that this goes on among my own friends and family and it makes me wonder, when are we going to stop hurting each other?  When are we going to stop hurting ourselves?

There is so much true and real evil in the world, but a small and very smart way that the Adversary is working to destroy us is through comparing, judging and belittling.  It has been 9 years since I graduated from high school and during those 9 years, many of which were spent at college and in singles wards, I have met more petty women than I did in my four years in high school, and I went to a high school that was very much like the ones you see in the movies "She's All That" and "Mean Girls."  It's astonishing to me to see Ladder-day Saint women who know better and are taught that we need to treat others with Christ-like love be so cruel to each other.

I've been thinking a lot about the Primary song "Kindness Begins with Me" and I just about cry every time because kindness is such a lost art.  There is a real lack of kindness in the world today and it's such a basic and fundamental part of human life.  Don't we all deserve to be treated kindly?  Even those who are unkind to us still deserve to be treated kindly, because we have been commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves.  We teach our children to be kind to others, to share and say nice things, but we as adults often forget to do the same.  For many of us, myself included, it takes a conscience effort to always be kind, to not think or say unkind things, to be slow to anger or frustration, and to think of others before ourselves.  But I truly believe that if we make that conscience effort time and time again, it will become a habit.


After my Grandpa passed away last year, hearing all of the wonderful things that people had to say about him got me thinking about what others would say about me when I pass on.  I sincerely hope it would be good things, but I know that if I am to make that a reality, I need to live it first.  I want people to be able to say that I was always kind, would greet others with a warm smile, and was generous in my words and deeds.  I know that I have a long way to go, but I also know that in the home is the first place to start, so I have.  I don't always succeed, but I try everyday to be better than the day before.

"Honesty is the best policy."  We've all heard that saying and many of us believe it, often times taking it to the extreme.  I think it's best that that saying go hand-in-hand with the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  Honesty is the best policy, but kindness should come first.  Just because something is the truth, that doesn't mean it needs to be said.  Many times what is true is also rude, condescending, spiteful, or hurtful, and those are things that are best left unsaid.  Thumper's father got it right: "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all."  You may have seen the analogy of the broken plate floating around on Facebook.  It says to throw a plate on the ground.  Did it break?  Yes.  Now tell the plate you're sorry.  Did that fix the plate?  No.  Just like saying sorry to the broken plate didn't fix the plate, saying sorry doesn't take back what we said and it could be awhile before those hurt feelings are gone.  Even worse, that person may never be able to see you the same way ever again.  My parents taught my siblings and myself to always think before we speak.  As an adult I now see just how important that is and I try to think about how what I want to say would make me feel if it were said to me.  I don't always succeed and often times find myself regretting something I have said, but I do try and know that I can always be better at it.  And I always try to remember this: how you make others feel about themselves, says a lot about who you are as a person.


Comparing is one of the biggest social problems of our day.  Why is it that we feel it's OK to compare ourselves to others when we are all so different, too different to make any form of a fair comparison?

They have money and we don't, so we're angry with them.
They don't have money and we do, so we think less of them.
She actually got ready today when I didn't, so we get angry with her.
She didn't get ready today when I did, so we think less of her.
They are happy, so their life must be perfect, and since mine isn't, I'm angry with them.
They're grumpy/sad/angry/surly, so there must be something wrong with them or they're not a nice person.

We all are different, have different lives and different struggles.  One person's struggles may seem small compared to yours, but because we all so different, comparing our struggles is like comparing apples and oranges.  So while you think that someone knows nothing about heartache and pain and suffering because they've never been in your situation and have never dealt with your trials, the same could be said about you if you turn things around.  You've probably never experienced what they're going through and probably never will; therefore, you know nothing about heartache and pain and suffering in the same way that they do.

My mom lost her first husband when she was only 21 and was left with me at 9 months old to care for.

My husband spent 3 1/2 months on his death bed in a hospital away from his pregnant wife and young son and in the midst of that, we had to watch our newborn baby daughter struggle and fight for her life in the NICU for 6 days before she was well enough to go home with us.

Of these two situations, who would you say has suffered more: me?  Or my mom?  I would say that there is no way on Earth or in Heaven that a just comparison could be made; so I won't even try.

After reading this post the other day, it made me wish that we all could walk around wearing a sign, asking others to be gentle with us.  You never know what someone else is going through, or why they do or say the things they do, but if we could all wear signs, then it would be a lot easier for us to understand.

"Please be gentle, I lost my job."
"Please be gentle, I'm getting divorced."
"Please be gentle, I lost my spouse."
"Please be gentle, we foreclosed on our home."
"Please be gentle, my child is very ill."
"Please be gentle, I have depression."

Unfortunately, it's just not practical to wear a sign around our necks, so maybe we need to just assume the best in everyone and offer a smile and a hello.  That could be all it takes to brighten their day or their mood, and if someone offers it to you, pay it forward.


Many people think that it's OK to say whatever they want on social media platforms.  I can't even bother to read comments on blogs or news articles because people just get so cruel.  Social media etiquette is so important and I think that we all need to learn to have care in not only what we say, but how we say it, especially in social media because tone is lost and all that anyone sees are words.  Words can be powerful, in both positive and negative ways, so choose your words carefully.

The last thing that I've been thinking a lot about is the scripture found in Matthew 25:40, "In as much as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  That makes me think of the saying "What would Jesus do?" but I want to take it one step further: "What would I do to Jesus?"  Would I speak to Him or about Him the way that I do others?  Would I treat Him the way that I treat others?  Hopefully one day, that answer for me will always be "yes."