Welcome Now that we are into September, most of us have sent our kiddoes off to start a new school year. Facebook and Instagram explodes here during the final weeks of August with pictures of everyone’s children making their way into the halls of learning. But I hope the most important lessons they are learning are coming from us, as their parents, and they far exceed the importance of standardized tests and mandatory curricular objectives. Today, I’m going to share the words I said to my daughter as she set off to start a her fifth grade school year and why I need to take my own advice. Also, there is a recipe for a chocolate nut bar that gives a high dose of protein, energy, and sweetness. Thanks for joining me today. Note-I may receive a small compensation from advertisers and affiliate links found in this post. For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.
Food For Thought I worry about my kid at school. She’s a good kid, but a bit quirky, and like me, she doesn’t always “fit in.” The difference between me and her, thankfully, is that unlike me, she doesn’t worry about it. I’ve been worrying about not fitting in my whole life, but she is content being her own unique self, finding friends that like her for who she is, and being happy in her own skin. Bless her heart, I should be learning from her example! At any rate, I worry that kids are going to tease her or say unkind things to her. I am not jumping on the bullying bandwagon here, though. While I know bullying happens on some occasions, I don’t feel it is the norm. I just know that kids say things sometimes without thinking, and end up hurting the other person’s feelings. And like all good parents, I want to protect my kid from things that are unpleasant in this world. So today, I’m talking about kindness.
Now that I work from home, my daughter and I walk to and from her school each day. It’s a great way to start our day and gives us a chance to chat without distractions of toys, TV, or phones. On her first day of school, in the midst of all these other kids and parents, I told my daughter these words (along with be good and I love you): “Be kind to everyone, even if they don’t deserve it.” She, of course, said “I will” and rushed off to eagerly start her new adventure. But as I turned around to walk home, I contemplated my own words. First, I thought about what a kind kid she is anyway. Her dad and I are so thankful for her kind spirit. I’m not saying she can’t pack some attitude here at home, but she is genuinely kind and caring for other people, animals, and the earth around her. Then I analyzed my addition of “even if they don’t deserve it.” I’m sure God was listening to my conversation, and likely knew that my heart was in the right place, but would have added “don’t all people deserve kindness?” Yeah, I get a little judgey sometimes, thinking I know if people deserve kindness or not. It probably would sound a lot more “Christian” if I had just left it at “Be kind to everyone.” And then I thought about how I needed to take my own advice.
It’s always hard to admit our own short-comings in our daily Christian walk, but until we recognize and admit areas of weakness, we can’t necessarily fix them. I try not to ever be intentionally rude to people, but I can’t say I’m eager to show kindness to people I don’t necessarily think deserve it, either. Part of this stems from my own cognitive distortions about people thinking the worst of me, even when they’ve done nothing to prove my thinking true. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but I really had trouble with this at my previous place of employment. When I first started working there, I tried very hard to express kindness to coworkers, but after being repeatedly ignored, left out, or “talked about” I began to feel that I didn’t owe anyone there kindness. Sadly, I waited to return kindness after I had been shown kindness first, which in my mind, wasn’t very often. That’s not a very Christian way to live my life, I know, but I wallowed so deeply in my own feelings of discontent, I wasn’t willing to express kindness to others, whether or not they “deserved” it. Now, like I said earlier, some of my feelings may have been validated by how some treated me, but probably most feelings were irrational and gave me no right to behave in some of the ways I did. Regardless, it is my duty to “love my neighbor as myself.” The same is true of my attitude at church. I reached out to some young mothers and wives with what I thought was kindness, but when their returned attitudes didn’t match my expectations, I had ugly thoughts about withdrawing my own kindness to keep from being offended or hurt again. Our Biblical instructions for being kind offers no disclaimers or exceptions. I am supposed to be kind to everyone, just like I told my daughter on her first day of school this year. After walking home and pondering my words of kindness, I decided to come home and look at HIS words about kindness. Today’s scriptures will share more about this.
Today’s Scriptures Galatians chapter 5 is a good place to start when I am needing lessons in kindness. Verses 13-15 states “You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” If we continue to be unkind to one another, we will be destroyed, and I think this expands to a broader scale than just my issues in the workplace or kids at school. Later in verse 22 (NIV), kindness is listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit, and in verse 25, since we “live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Walking with the Spirit of Christ within me requires love, joy, peace, patience, AND kindness.
The “rules for Holy living” described in Colossians chapter 3 also include kindness. Verse 12 states: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” In 1 Corinthians 13:4, we read that “Love is patient, love is kind…” and looking at the earlier verses in chapter 13, we know if we do not have love, we have nothing. Gotta have love…gotta have kindness! Clearly I have some work to do.
Today’s Prayer My dear, loving Father, today I ask for forgiveness for my past behaviors that were unkind to others. Please help me learn to love all people and show kindness in all places. Lord, I know it is not my place to judge others or decide if they deserve kindness, but I am instructed to be kind to all, according to Your word. Help me to write these commands on my heart and keep them in my mind, so that I may carry out Your fruits of the Spirit. And, God, I pray that You will help our world become a kinder place to live and raise our families. God, I lift up our Christian communities that we may be shining examples of kindness in this world of darkness and turmoil. Let our kindness work together to overpower Satan and his ways. In Jesus Holy Name, Amen.
Today’s Recipe Originally for this post, I was going to make KIND bars. These are “healthy” snack bars available where you buy items like protein bars and granola bars. They are yummy, but also pricey, so there’s a whole bunch of people out there making copycat bars. I tried a few of these recipes I found on Pinterest, but I had trouble with either the price or availability of some of the ingredients, or the texture coming out wrong. Basically they wouldn’t stay together in a “bar.” So, like I usually do when attempting a recipe, I improvised. I came up with a bar that is, in my opinion, even yummier, although my yumminess may have sacrificed some of the health benefits. I call these “Good Advice Bars” because I want you to remember the good advice seen in this post today about being kind, but also because it’s good advice to: eat more nuts, eat dark chocolate, snack on whole foods and enjoy what you eat! Seven grams of protein and no cholesterol are a nutritional bonus, but they do have 360 calories per bar, so don’t expect to eat several a day!