RADIATE LOVE WITH A TOUCH OF INTENTIONAL KINDNESS
Is it possible to radiate love through intentional kindness? What is kindness?
Kindness is “… radical … brave and daring, willing to be vulnerable … The way of selfless risk. The way of staggering hope.” Barry H. Corey
God puts it like this in Micah 6:8: Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.
Jesus touched the untouchable, spent time with the rejected, and showed compassion to the suffering. He was also kind to those who were unkind to Him. By this He radiated love.
Kindness, writes Stephen Witmer, is a “generous orientation of our hearts toward other people, even when they don’t deserve it and don’t love us in return.”
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring.” Leo Buscaglia
Kindness changes us even as we practice it.
Who could have guessed that my new rheumatologist would be located only ten minutes away from the home of a new friend that I had longed to meet in person for many months — and who could have guessed that God had a gift of kindness waiting for me there? After all, I had spent years with a rheumatologist that minimized my symptoms and treated me with many unkindnesses. I had drug my feet about changing to a new doctor because I had grown despondent over it all. What’s the use, anyway? There probably is nothing better for me, and I should just give up the search for kindness.
Instead of giving up, I listened to the smallest of nudges in my heart, and kept trying to locate a kinder, more compassionate doctor. I read reviews, I checked with my Insurance Nurse Advocate, I even asked my neighbors for ideas — and I tried to be honest in my prayers.
So imagine my surprise when the search landed me at a clinic that was located in the neighboring town of my new friend, Pamela Piquette. I had long admired her for following the Lord with the creation of Chronic Joy Ministry which itself radiates love through acts of intentional kindness. Joining in with their new Prayer Pond that summer had been such a blessing to me. We had talked and prayed together over the phone for the hurting hearts of so many with chronic illness.
WE RADIATE GOD’S LOVE WHEN WE PRACTICE KINDNESS
What I didn’t realize was that God was going to bless my own hurting, chronically-ill body through a sweet gift of kindness. When Pamela invited me to stop at her house after my visit with the new rheumatologist, I thought I was handling the change well, and that I had acquiesced to the fact that my previous doctor was just another moment in my past.
However, when I sat on the big cushy sofa in Pamela’s peaceful living room and she asked how the visit with the new rheumatologist had gone, my heart began spilling over. After having met so much unkindness in my previous doctor’s office, I was overwhelmed that God would bring me such gentle kindness not only through the new doctor, but also in the fellowship of my new friend. She opened her home to me in a simple act of kindness, radiating the love of Christ.
In Your house, they eat and are full at Your table. They drink from the river of Your overflowing kindness. (Psalm 36:8 The Voice)
She gave me drink from the river of God’s overflowing kindness when she cared about the ways I had been treated previously. When she encouraged me to know that my treatments were valuable and known by God and by her as well, she allowed me to feast at the table of the Lord. Her giving of kindness opened the way for me to open my heart to receive the kindness of God. Pamela radiated God’s love through her intentional kindness.
I invited without thinking.
Would she really want to meet me?
I doubted she would come.
I was hungry to connect with this precious heart in person.
Sometimes intentional kindness begins without much thought. It’s just a risk and reaction in the moment. Then comes the doubt, the fear that it won’t be enough, that I won’t be enough — but without the risk, there is little hope that the hunger for friendship and connection will ever be filled. Will my kindness really radiate love?
Hunger. It’s real. It’s raw — and it’s often avoided.
On this day, I risked the “no” and offered a respite after Bettie’s appointment. I was keenly aware that she might not come, that the appointment and the trip might prove too taxing. She might not come, but I baked cookies, an intentional kindness I had often offered in my past life —- the one where I was the healthy church girl who always brought a homemade goodie to share, so that I might be admired for being so thoughtful and on top of things.
OUR HUSBANDS RADIATE LOVE THROUGH KINDNESS
Yet, this time was different. Mixing the batter required help from my husband because my arm gave out and my shoulder began to hurt. Even more than the hurt in my shoulder, it hurt my heart and my pride to receive intentional kindness from my husband.
The day came and I busied myself to distract me from the possibility that she wouldn’t come. Then, came the call asking for some help finding my house.
Bettie was on her way.
When she arrived, my heart was so ready to see and talk face-to-face with my prayer warrior friend, but I was unprepared for her arrival. Her gait was slow with her cane, but her husband was so tender and radiated love with his kindness in helping Bettie find comfort in my home. He chatted with us. I think he was discerning whether or not his beloved wife would be safe and loved with me. Oh, the love and care that he showed spoke volumes! He must have decided that I was ok, because he left us to visit.
INTENTIONAL KINDNESS RADIATES LOVE
It was then I brought out the cookies I had struggled to bake, only to discover that Bettie’s diet required her to avoid sugar and flour. What was I thinking? How could I have gotten kindness so wrong?
As we talked, I relaxed and realized that Bettie had come to see me, not my house, not Chronic Joy, not to eat cookies. She intentionally came to see me and to offer herself in friendship. Her smile radiated love, kindness, and so much grace. My hunger for friendship and connection was being filled by her presence — or was it by the radiance of the Spirit with us? For you see, Where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them. (Matthew 18:20) Jesus had extended His kindness by joining us and filling our hearts with His joy.
Intentional kindness may begin seemingly unintentionally, but because kindness is inspired by the Holy Spirit, is it really unintentional?
PRAYER FOR KINDNESS
Lord, teach us to speak in love before lashing out in anger, to slow down, breathe deep, and pause. Give us eyes to seek the all-too-often-inconvenient needs of the one precious life right in front of us.
Still our thoughts and quiet our hearts, for You have perfectly fitted for us to love one another … to be, together, the Body of Christ on earth.
Let Your loving-kindness be the whisper of our lips and Your strength, the love-in-action of our souls.
May we radiate love through intentional kindness to each precious life that You bring into our presence.
In Your Son’s Name,
Executive Director and Co-Founder of Chronic Joy®
Pamela is the mom of three married children, grandma of four, and wife of more than 30 years. She is diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos, chronic migraines, and a host of other chronic conditions. She enjoys hot tea, reading and walking her teddy bear dog, Cocoa.
Chronic Joy Contributing Writer
You can find Bettie blogging from her home in the far north suburbs of Chicago at bettiegsraseasons.com. She is walking forward with Jesus, in the middle of her own pain and weakness from multiple chronic illnesses. The beauty of nature is a joy that calls to Bettie, as do her family and nine young grandchildren. She and her husband have been married for over 40 years and take great joy in their weekend coffee breaks together.
Show up. Lean in. And be intentionally kind. Kindness is love in action. It shapes the relationships between us and builds a strong foundation of deeply caring and faith-enriched communities.