“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” While I love that quote, I recently had a revelation regarding kindness.
Last Christmas we encouraged our church family to consider bringing a gift to Christ on Christmas. We gave instructions that this would be something you would do that points others to Him throughout the year. We handed out gift tags for them to write down their gift as a reminder for them throughout the year.
What I wrote on my gift tag, was to be intentionally kind. Many of us are kinder during the Christmas season, but God placed a strong desire on my heart to constantly look for opportunities for random acts of kindness.
Just two months after writing that down I attended an Aspire Conference where guest speaker Shaunti Feldhahn spoke about one her newest book, The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship
She went on to explain the details of the challenge and encouraged us all to participate. In which she laid out the rules.
For The Next 30 Days, You Must Do The Following:
1. Identify one person you will apply the challenge to, and be sure to not let them know you’re doing it. (I chose my husband, Andre.)
2. Don’t say anything negative.
3. Thank them for doing something, AND tell somebody.
4. Do something nice for them.
Sister girl had to start over just after 5 days. Well, it didn’t help that Andre was acting up. I should have stepped up my game and pushed through, but nope, I had to start over.
So I did, and I took it seriously. In fact, I was so bummed that I failed after the initial 5 days; I decided to approach the challenge differently. I visited Join The Kindness Challenge website and utilized the free tools she offers.
The first thing I did was completed the kindness quiz. Although I scored a 40/50, my results showed I was genuinely a kind person but not so much to the person I was doing the challenge to. Ouch, yes I needed to work on being kinder to my husband.
Then I signed up for the challenge by submitting my email here, so that I would get a daily reminder with tips on how to extend kindness over the 30 days.
I even took it a step further and wrote my result in a little notebook daily. I simply wrote the following on 30 pages (one for each day): Date, Say Nothing Negative, Thanked, Told, and Did.
Writing it down helped me stay accountable to the challenge and gave me hope on the countdown, because, yes I was counting the days. Just keeping it 100!
However, I have to admit this challenge was a huge eye-opener for me because I identified 3 teachable moments.
1. It Forced Me To Look For The Good In Every Situation.
Some days I was simply thanking him for going to work, letting me sleep in, or making my coffee. It may have seemed like it wasn’t a big deal, but it was. Why? Because instead of focusing on what wasn’t going well those days, I didn’t say anything negative about it and looked for something good. Isn’t that what 1 Corinthians 13 tells us to do anyway?
“Love bears up under anything and everything that comes,is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].” ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 7 (AMPC)
2. I Realized I Casually Make Negative Remarks.
By having to be consciously aware of not speaking anything negative, it shed some light on the slippery slope I was on with my words.
You see, in our own eyes, we don’t think we’re a negative person, or we don’t speak negatively to people. Yet, this challenge showed me there were opportunities for sly negative remarks where I would have normally spoken, even in a “joking” manner. And in reality, those remarks would have been negative words that could be tearing my husband down, instead of building him up. And the scripture that came to my mind when thinking about this was Ephesians 4:29.
“Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth,but only such [speech]as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others,as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it.” ~ Ephesians 4:29 (AMPC)
3. I Learned To Get Creative In Ways To Be Kind.
When I took the kindness quiz, one of the nuggets that stuck with me was:
“Don’t just be kind, be perceived as being kind.” ~ Shaunti Feldhahn
WOW! That hit me like a ton of bricks! I think inside I am a kind person but scoring a 40/50 means I still have work to do. And I didn’t just want these 30 days to go by checking off my to-do list of the challenge. No! I wanted my husband to perceive me as being kind.
There were a few days when he was kind of arguing with me and instead of engaging and saying something negative, I smiled and said I loved you. He was looking at me weird. And I was thinking to myself. When I sit him down at the end of these 30 days; he’s going to be shocked.
When the 30 days were over, we sat down for our couch time, and I shared the details of the last 30 days. I even read my notebook of the things I wrote down.
He laughed at first and then asked me why was I thanking him for things he normally does?
I explained that regardless of how our interaction was going that day, I had to choose to find the good. Some days that was all I could find, and that revelation alone touched his heart.
Andre expressed that if I had to find something that meant he wasn’t being too kind himself. And now he was inspired to complete the challenge.
It’s amazing to me how when you ask God for something, He will give you opportunities to practice what you asked for. Remember, I wrote down my gift to Jesus was to intentionally be kind, and look at that, just a few months later God put me in a position to intentionally be kind!
Sure there are plenty of ways to be kind to others. In fact, I remember being with my daughter one day at a coffee shop; and a homeless man walked in. I asked the workers did he come in often, they said yes; he usually collects enough coins to buy a coffee. So I asked could I buy it for him and to give it to him after I leave.
When we got in the car; my daughter said; mom that was really kind of you. While that was a great example of random acts of kindness, that was so much easier than successfully completing the 30-day challenge.
If this post resonates with you and you’re feeling led to take the kindness challenge, then I would encourage you to visit: Join The Kindness Challenge. However, if you’ve taken the 30-day kindness challenge before, and have a teachable moment to share, post it in the comment section, we would love to read about it!
This post has been shared on Grace and Truth a weekly Christian link up.
~ Timberley Gray