A culture of kindness? Robert and I were talking about the “Love” verses from 1Corinthians 13. He made an interesting comment on how we push the two phrases, “love is patient, love is kind” together. And then we don’t ever pull them apart. Their individual meaning becomes lost because it’s a package deal.
Having patience is one way to show kindness. That’s true. (Click here for the post on patience.) But to truly squeeze all the juice from these verses, we need to unpack them.
Love is kind.
Friendly, generous, warm-hearted, tolerant, agreeable; these are all words associated with and used to describe being kind. All these sound like a grouping of behaviors and attitudes which would add positively to a relationship.
When is it important to be kind? Is it a one-time action that can be noted and celebrated? Or perhaps being kind needs to be less of an event, and more of a way of living.
A Culture of Kindness
The definition of culture can be summed up as “the behaviors, values, and beliefs characteristic of a particular group“. Values and beliefs are two powerful tools when developing a culture.
We often just accept the values of our parents or the popular beliefs in our circle of friends. Our marriage and family culture become a reactive expression of what is around us. Think of the television programs we watch – have any of the expressions or nuances entered your family?
(Robert and I enjoy watching the TV show Big Bang Theory – we laugh at those “Sheldon” moments of utter self-centered-ness. Right now, as I’m writing, it makes me wonder if we are more – or less – aware of our own selfish moments because of ingesting this popular show… )
Have you defined your values as a couple? Do you share the same beliefs? Are you deliberate about what you’ve decided your family atmosphere could be like?
What would it look like if you added kindness to the culture of your marriage and family?
Kindness in Action
We are usually kind to strangers. There’s no skin-in-the-game with a stranger.
Simple politeness – please and thank-you – demonstrates basic kindness. This is stuff we share with most people, and it’s been a skill we’ve sought to teach our children. I imagine you practice simple politeness with your spouse, don’t you? Holding the door open when they’re carrying something heavy – greeting your spouse when he or she arrives home – a smile – excusing yourself for burping… 😉
But let’s take it a step further. Kindness is shown through thoughtfulness and a focus on the other person’s needs and desires. That’s the beginning of a culture of kindness in marriage.
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easy to hone this skill because we’re naturally wired to respond with grace to a new interest. Watch a newly engaged couple and you’ll quickly see the meeting of their eyes to confirm agreement, or how swiftly one moves to help the other in the most mundane of ways. It’s an attention to details just to stay connected.
But what happens after a number of years? The “woulda-shoulda-coulda” refrain creeps into our heads and leaks out of our mouths.
- “Well – she coulda helped me on the weekend.”
- “I woulda been available if only he’d asked.”
- “He shoulda known what I needed, ‘cause I’ve been tellin’ him all these years.”
What’s missing from these statements?
A focus on the other person’s needs and desires. A culture of kindness is missing.
Kindness, like patience, is NOT about you.
“Love is not affectionate feeling,
but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good
as far as it can be obtained.”
~ C.S. Lewis
Showing kindness might be called Agape love – what do you think?
Unconditional love – kindness without condition.
Kindness with no Conditions – A culture of Kindness
What would kindness without condition look like in a marriage?
- smiling at your spouse – even if you don’t feel like it
- offering to serve your spouse – to meet a need – even if you haven’t been served
- giving your best to your spouse – before anyone else
- refraining from an action because it might cause pain or concern
- remaining neutral when your spouse needs a sounding board, even if you have an opinion
There are more ways to be kind, I’m sure.
Love is Kind
Give it some thought – do you think it’s important to have a culture of kindness in your relationship and family?
If you do, how would you foster this culture of kindness in your marriage? (After all, we stand as a living example for the generations to come… )
Hear it on Sunday – Use it on Monday | Wifey Wednesdays – Love, Honor & Vacuum | Wedded Wednesday – Messy Marriage | Leaving a Legacy | Why I Love My Husband – Happy Wives Club
I like the way you refer to unpacking as a way of digging deeper into this passage. I agree they are PACKED with goodness in such a small section. Unpacking is the only way to understand and see all that it has to offer. Thank you for taking the time to unpack with care 😉
Thank you for stopping in and commenting, Patti – and thanks for your kind words.
A very thought provoking post!
Happy you stopped by!
This is such a wonderful post. Very apt with valentines day just around the corner. I love your suggestions for kindness with no conditions. I think mankind as a whole could benefit from understanding how much kindness can affect someone’s life.
Oh yes – I agree that if we were all a little more focused on being kind, everyone’s life could be improved. It’s the small things, right?
What a GREAT post!!
The word that has been translated into our family is, “Bazinga” — in fact, we all have T-shirts that say it.
On a more serious note, I find that kindness is easily shown when things are going, well. However, when things are — not so well — this is when we enact the patience clause.
Ha. The Patience Clause. 🙂
On a BigBang note, we have a lady at church who is named Penny – it gets all giggling when we call her from across the room – “Penny, Penny, Penny”…
I really like this post. How true that kindness and patience go to anyone and everyone we DON’T know very well, and we offer the dregs to our husbands and families.
For years, I have said that we use all our patience (that envelops “kindness”, too, I think) on everyone at work or on those we meet during the day, and our children give all theirs at school — and we all meet inside our four walls in the evening to create a chaotic, patience-free zone!
Thanks for putting this down so well.
You’ ve summed it up beautifully, Amy. So often we forget that those we love deserve our best – not just the left-overs. (if there are any)
I love the way you’ve hammered out some specific ways we can be “kind” to our spouses. I needed this reminder! And I’d love to have you join your post with my Wedded Wednesday link up at messy marriage. 🙂
Thanks for the invitation, Beth – headed there now! 🙂
“Remaining neutral when your spouse needs a sounding board”…why is that so difficult for me? Wow.
Love the idea of our family becoming a Culture of Kindness.
Visiting from Messy Marriage…and glad I did!
Thank you for stopping in – so happy to connect, Laura!
(funny about that statement about a neutral sounding board – that was the statement that got my husband stopped at also – he laughed. It’s a struggle for both of us!)
Oh this is so true. I love how you explained it. We have been married for 41 years and my husband is my best friend, confidant and companion. He encourages me in my writing and painting – and he is the kindest person I know.
Kindness is so under-rated, eh? We value it without realizing what it IS we value. Thanks for commenting, Janis.
I love the idea of a culture of kindness. I don’t know if kindness alone can be considered agape love but I really like, “Kindness, like patience, is NOT about you.”
See, Fawn — I really needed you beside me when I was writing this… I wasn’t sure about the agape love thing, and wished I could just have a discussion with someone! 🙂 Thanks for connecting – I value your insights!
This is a great post Lori – I love that last part ( what would kindness without condition look like in a marriage?). Great practical tips there. Thanks for giving me something to dwell (and improve) on today 🙂
This is a fantastic reminder. Never thought about breaking down the verse because we’re so used to hearing it all strung together. I love both the Big Bang reference and C.S. Lewis quote. Is it sad that Sheldon is our favorite character? I guess he is endearing because he reminds us of our instinctively childish ways. It seems to me that Penny’s character is a good example of kindness and humility, always looking out for the well-being of her fellow characters.
Thanks so much for stopping by!!
Im not sure how old you are but you will realise how much giving patience is an act of love, we all slow down!
I like what Claire said above me—I really need to learn patience better! 🙂
Thanks for linking up. Hope you have a great day and come back later today for this week’s new linkup!