Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.
I was about eight years old. I was walking through SAM’s Club with my mom, filling the flatbed with piles upon piles of food to feed the many mouths at our house, when I spotted it. It was beautiful. It was pink, blue, and was covered in sequins. Inside there was eye shadow, lip liner, blush, lip-gloss, and lipstick. It seemed as though there was every color I could dream up. It was an eight year olds dream. As usual I “ooed and awed” at it as I walked by, but knew that we were here to buy food. About a week later I got home from school and my mom surprised me with the makeup kit. Twelve years later I still remember how cherished and loved I felt in that moment. Who knew a twenty-dollar makeup kit could touch my heart so much?
It was the day of my high school graduation. I was already being smothered in love, but my mom took it one step further and with the help of an amazing friend, she handed me a scrapbook full of letters from the people I love the most. My mom is not a wordy person, letters are not her thing. But they are my thing. Letters take me on an emotional and wonderful journey unlike anything else. Words on paper touch a level of depth inside my soul I didn’t know was possible. For my mom, this gift was unnatural to give, but she did all the work for me. I now have the book and read through it often. I read the letters for a temporary escape from the world and step into a few simple moments of delight. That gift is treasured more than anything. Those words written to me speak life into my soul.
My dad bringing home my favorite cookies from his office. My friends sending me letters in the mail. My grandma waking me up in the morning with my favorite juice in hand. My grandparents texting me weekly. My mom doing my laundry. Maliyah drawing pictures for me.
Love is kind.
I have always heard the entire verse that reads:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
…but never had I singled out those three words.
This past semester I gave myself the challenge to discover more of what it looked like to love like God. To be overflowing with love for others. To be consumed with sweet thoughts for others. To be a true shining example of Jesus. I prayed that over this next year I would love more and love bigger. That my love would look more like His each day. That my heart would resemble His more and more every day.
The first step in this was to discover how He loves and what His love looks like. I researched for books that would teach me this, bought them, and began reading. Within a few pages I was already stumped. How in the world did Jesus love so big and so much and so unconditionally when He was here on Earth? Very quickly I felt incapable to love the way He loves His people. I was too overwhelmed and didn’t even know where to start.
Drowning in amazement for Him and dissatisfaction at my heart, I did what I knew best and got on my knees before Him humbly asking that He might show me how to love bigger and love more. To love like He does.
A few weeks ago I was reading The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippets (which I highly recommend!). I had been praying for God to give me something.
This is what He gave me: love is kind.
I am blessed to say that my life is a story of love. My world is filled with the most beautiful people who love me in ways I don’t deserve. As I look at the ways they have loved me, I realize that the times I felt most loved wasn’t when they told me they loved me, but rather when they did something or said something that pierced straight into my heart. Something that stemmed from love. That makeup kit was filled with more love than makeup. Those letters were not just words on paper; they were words that echoed love. The cookies from my dad, the texts from my grandparents, the pictures from Maliyah all mirrored the love of Christ.
Each one of these things, no matter how minuscule, was done out of kindness. In their kindest moments, in some of their simplest moments, the people in my life displayed their love for me and the love of Christ. Years later I remember these moments not because of the things I got or the things that were said, but because of the way I felt in these moments. I felt loved. I felt cherished. I felt cared for. I felt adored.
It was these tiny acts of kindness that impacted me forever. Tiny acts that still touch my heart. Tiny acts that still make me smile.
And so with this realization God showed me a way that I can love bigger and love more. By being kind.
Caring. Warm. Considerate. Helpful. Thoughtful. Selfless. Compassionate. Understanding. Hospitable. Attentive.
So I have a new mission. To intentionally be more kind each and every day. To grow my heart larger and larger to the point where no more kindness can seem to find a place to flourish. It is in these simple moments of kindness that I can impact a life forever. In these simple moments I don’t need to fret over having the right words and telling someone of the love our Heavenly Father has for them. I can show them the love He has for them. I don’t need to fret over having an insufficiently sized heart. I just need to act.
I will smile at someone. I will send an encouraging text to a friend. I will give someone a hug. I will surprise my friend with coffee. I will pay for someone’s dinner. I will do the dishes when it isn’t my turn. I will hold the door open for a stranger.
Slowly but surely these small acts of kindness will become a part of my being. They will edge their way into my everyday life. They will become a part of who I am and the way I love. These small acts will add up over time and before I know it, I will have loved bigger and loved more. I will have loved more like Jesus. My heart will further resemble His. I will love like He does.