When I wrote in yesterday's post on Kindness, I wrote some thoughts from one of the chapters of the book, Ruth: Her Story for Today. I also said that I'd note down some thoughts that I'd picked up from Mrs Mary Beeke's talk on Family Kindness. Obviously, there is much more that could be said about the kindness we can show outwith the tight family circle, but this talk concentrates only on kindness within our family bonds.
Mrs Beeke begins by speaking of some of the reasons we can be unkind to those within our family. Briefly, they included:
- Familiarity: It goes without saying that our family members are those with whom we are most familiar, and sometimes, the old adage, 'Familiarity breeds contempt' can be true in terms of our lack of kindness to each other in the home.
- Home is where we 'let our hair down'... and so it should be! But we must not allow being relaxed to slide into slobbiness.
- Tiredness: when we reach a certain time of the day, our lack of energy can result in us dealing very unkindly with those whom we love.
- Boredom: the 'sameness' of the routine (especially of Mums who are at home all the time) can lead to grumpiness if we allow it.
- Hormones: the queen of all reasons! (Some of us think we are not affected.... just ask other family members!)
So, these are some of the causes of us speaking and dealing unkindly with our families. Remember, they may be causes; they are not excuses.
So, having looked (above) at some of the stumblingblocks to achieving kindness, what are some of the ways in which we can achieve it?
Mrs Beeke has quite a list of areas we ought to look at. Here are some of them:
1. Prayer: we need God's strength. Sometimes our prayers will be 'emergency' prayers - 'God, help me here', but we ought also to make our desire to be kind a matter of consistent prayer.
2. Patience: we become impatient when we have to repeat the same thing again and again to children. But maybe we ought to think of these times as individual 'teaching moments'. After all, how patient is our Heavenly Father with us?
3. Prevent extreme tiredness: if possible, sleep well, eat well and exercise well. Our bodily health can have a great impact on our mental and emotional health and strength.
4. Pardon: we must wipe the slate clean. The truth is that sometimes we are wronged by others. It's also true that we do the wrong sometimes. We must seek to be forgiven, and we must forgive. This is imperative.
5. Ponder and meditate on God's Word: this makes us humble. Sometimes our pride minimises our weaknesses but accentuates the weaknesses of others. If we ponder on God's Word, and think of what our hearts are really like before a holy God, it humbles us and makes us more likely to think highly of others.
6. Appreciate: we ought to count our blessings. If we're fed up or bored with our daily routine, what about 'counting our blessings and naming them one by one'. Go on - try it! We have so very, very much - and when we look at our blessings individually, it's very difficult not to appreciate what we have. (If we don't, we at least feel ashamed at how ungrateful we are.)
7. Praise and encourage: make a conscience effort to show appreciation to each family member for who they are and what they do. Build them up with love and encouragement.
8. Be positive: we ought to look at circumstances 'sunny side up'. We ought to laugh with each other, and at ourselves.... laughter is such good medicine.
9. Pass kindness on: talk of it, insist on it, demonstrate it. We do have to find a balance with our children between allowing them to sort out their own differences (we ought not interfere every time there is the slightest disagreement between them) and not allowing them to treat each other unkindly. We ought to teach them how to get to the bottom of problems and to solve them.
10. Protection: we do our children a great kindness if we protect them as much as is possible for us from pain, from danger and from sin.
11. Pamper yourself: this is related to preventing some of the issues in the first section - we ought not to 'let ourselves go', nor to become so tired and stressed that we put ourselves in danger of blowing a fuse! Prevention is better than cure...
12. Aim for peace: try not to get ruffled at little things. The juice that poured can be wiped; the dish that broke can be replaced; the cereal that spilled can be brushed up.... but unkind words can never be undone.
In practice then, what are some of the things we can do to make sure that kindness is penetrating each area of home-life:
- show affection: we ought to express our love in words and with actions
- watch your tone: the tone of our voice can speak volumes - for good or ill.
- greetings: say them out loud! 'Good morning', 'Hiya', 'Good bye', 'See you later'. They don't take too much effort...use them!
- make special times: know your children and your husband; know what makes them tick, and make the effort to do something special for them occasionally.
- be considerate: be in tune with the feelings of others.
- be thoughtful and kind to extended family - remember aunts and uncles. If you are an aunt - especially a single aunt - be kind to nieces and nephews (remember Ruth and Orpah with Naomi in yesterday's post - it seems like it was so easy for Ruth and Orpah to be kind to their mother-in-law, because of how kind she was to them).
- be consistent: we ought to behave at home as we would in public
- we ought also to look at our list of temptations to be unkind:
do we tend to speak in an unkind tone when we are tired? Maybe we ought to look at changing evening routines: could the children be in bed earlier? are there things we could get done through the day that are too often left until it's too late?
are we particularly grumpy if we haven't eaten properly (or if we've had no chocolate?!)?
or if we haven't been outside for a couple of days? Have a reality check. Eat regularly (don't let your sugars get low - just ask me or my family members whether this affects a person's mood). Make sure you see the outside world every so often - the effort of getting out the door is worth it. And when young children are able to burn off steam in a park or on a long walk, the results will be worth every ounce of effort it took to get out in the first place.
Well, these are some of the points Mrs Beeke raised.
How many of them made you cringe? I don't want to admit how many times I said an 'Ouch!' to myself as she spoke.
Being kind seems so easy. In practice, we are met with many stumbling blocks - the greatest of which is the sin in our own hearts.