Thursday, January 19, 2017
A little bit of Kindness
For those of you who have been reading my books for a while, you know that the heroine of For the Sake of the Children, Rose Stone, was not always the most upstanding citizen in Leadville. She weathered a lot of scandal, and though she's changed in many ways, Rose still suffers the sting of her actions. Or at least, the way some people treat her because of her mistakes.
One of the themes that keeps popping up in my stories, especially as I write about the not-so-lovable characters getting happy endings, is the transformative power of love and kindness. Rose was able to overcome the bad things in her past because of the love and kindness shown to her by her family. And, as she learns in this book, learning how to offer that same level of forgiveness to herself.
I've been thinking a lot about the things in this world lately, and the state of affairs, and my heart is really sad because we tend towards using shame as a means of getting people to change their behavior. We think that if we shame someone on social media, they will change their tune and do what we want them to do. There are pictures and articles mocking people for their bad decisions, and everyone chimes in about these terrible people. But what if they aren't terrible people? I wonder what it would feel like if our worst mistakes were recorded and plastered all over social media for everyone to mock.
In all the times I've been shamed for something people didn't like, it has never been a means of changing my behavior for the positive. Rather, it becomes a reason for me to hide further into the darkness, and has caused a lot of damage in my life. When I think about positive changes in my life, and ways I've turned from sin or even just not great behavior, the real cause of the change has been the receipt of kindness. There was a time in my life when I'd been so shamed that I couldn't accept kindness, and I lashed out at those who would offer it to me, because I thought it came with strings. But slowly, the more I saw kindness from others and accepted it as a gift, the more I learned that it was okay for others to be kind to me, and more importantly, for me to be kind to others.
And that, my friends, is really the way of Jesus. When faced with sinners and people who did wrong, he didn't mock them or create memes about how stupid they were, He loved them. He offered them kindness in times when others were turning their backs and treating them like they were nothing.
I want my books, and hopefully, my life, to reflect that kind of love. Trust me, I still fail as often as I succeed. But more and more, when it's tempting to open my mouth, I think about what it means to offer kindness instead of more shame. Sometimes, all I can do is keep my mouth shut, because I don't know what the kind response would be. Are there things happening in this world that would make Jesus angry? Absolutely. But I think He is often heartbroken at how we respond, in kind, by not by being kind.
My hope for you, and for this world, is that we can all learn to break free of the shame that holds us back, and learn a different way of responding. As you read about how Rose experienced transformation in her life, I hope you are reminded that the thing that made a difference in her life was the love and kindness shown to her by others. More importantly, I hope you remember the ultimate source of that love and kindness. And, as you're faced with the nastiness out there, you can find a way in your heart to offer kindness instead of shame.