Kindness is difficult to give away because it keeps coming back to you. Author unknownAt a dinner some time ago with a group of friends, the question was asked, 'what one word would you want to be on your tombstone to describe you?'
Amidst the thousands upon thousands of words out there, only one came close to being 'that word' for me.
I would want my tombstone to read, She was kind.
Several months later, at another dinner with the same group, one person said, after I'd ask one too many questions about something they were hurting over, "You're not kind."
That hurt. I felt betrayed. A word I'd revealed that was incredibly important to me was used, I felt, to hurt me, to mock me, to deride me.
Truth is -- They were hurting. Badly.
And judging what they said as being meant to hurt or mock or deride me was not kind of me.
Because, while what they said was their judgment, reality is, I was being unkind. I wasn't listening to their pain. I was listening to what they were saying and then, I was using my questions to try to open their eyes to what I perceived to be 'reality'.
Not a good idea. When someone is hurting, crying out to be heard, no matter my judgments of where they're at, the kind thing to do is listen deeply, and if I can't do that, find the kindest way to let them know, I can't do that.
Because in truth, in that instance, my questions, though well-intentioned, were meant to 'show them' how what they were doing was causing their pain.
Showing anyone anything about how they are wrong because you know what is right for them is not a great way to touch hearts and open minds.
It is a great way to shut down communication. Turn off friendship. Break up connection.
Now, I'm not saying what they did is right -- or wrong for that matter. What someone else does is always about them. (Remember. It is not kind to judge.)
What I do is always about me. And I believe that no matter how much pain I'm in, or how badly I'm hurting, or how angry I feel, I never have the right to be cruel.
Using words as weapons hurts, both the speaker and the receiver. Because, no matter how much I justify what I said, or asked, or did, I am justifying my behaviour -- and that means I'm making excuses for myself. And being unkind to me.
I don't want to live with excuses. I am committed to living with Love at the core of my being human, real, authentic. Kind.
These lessons in life, in being kind, are hard won.
When what other's do is unacceptable to me, I am responsible for how I respond. In this instance, I apologized for being unfeeling in my questions and acknowledged I was being unkind -- unintentional, but the outcome was the same. I was being unkind.
But, and there is always the but isn't there! When something rankles under my skin (because seriously, my victim voice really wanted to make this all about 'them' and what they did and nothing to do with me), when it digs in and worries a spot, it's important I move from the pain into finding the pearl in my learning, my knowing, my growth.
And for me, the pearl in this situation is the realization that I truly am, perfectly perfect in all my human imperfections.
And I can grow and expand and embrace 'the learning' to create an iridescent pearl of knowing -- I'm okay. In all my human imperfections. I'm okay.
And so are they.
We all are.
Exactly where we are meant to be. And in that being, we each have choices to become more than we ever imagined.
Me. I'm choosing to shine a light on my soul so that I can illuminate my world in love and kindness.
And in that light, there is always room to grow, to make mistakes, to even, be unkind. Because in my 'unkindness' comes the opportunity to see how human I can be when I just let myself be me becoming kinder!
Which brings me full circle back to where I began this year with a word to meditate on. "Renewal".
Learning from moments where my behaviour strays from grace, renews me. It strengthens my commitment to love me, myself and I, however I am, where ever I'm at. Because giving myself grace to make mistakes and love myself anyway is the kindest thing I can do.
Because, it's not about giving away kindness. It's all about giving up being unkind.