Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
― Henry James
I’ve always been a nice person. By always, of course, I mean overall, not every single moment. But generally speaking, I think even people who don’t like me much probably would describe me as nice. There are many fine behaviors that I lack, but nice I can do.
And therein lies the problem. Nice I can do and have done and in-spite of all my niceness, I’ve remained fundamentally unchanged at my core.
I gradually became aware of the cracks that can’t be papered-over with niceness. My feelings could be easily hurt. I was quick to take offense. But the real tell was that I was critical of other people’s choices when they differed from my own in everything from parenting to politics. I made character and motive assessments (i.e. He/She is so: raciest, arrogant, judgmental, moody, harsh, deceitful, critical, greedy, selfish, needy, negative etc… )
Get the irony, here? How arrogantly critical and judgmental of me to feel so free to evaluate others. While I kept those thoughts largely to myself, there they were, fermenting and staining my heart.
I’m done being nice. Instead, I want to be kind.
Niceness is a presentation. Kindness is a condition. I want a heart conditioned by grace to be kind. I can be nice in action without being kind-hearted. I can act warm when my thoughts are cold. Kindness requires a depth plumbed by God and infused with His grace.
Nice is pleasant, polite, agreeable, satisfactory. Niceness is about what I do.
Kind is having a sympathetic or helpful nature; having a forbearing (patient) nature; affectionate; loving; gentle. Kindness is about what I am, about what I hope to become.
Being nice wins favor, but being nice is transitory. Niceness easily evaporates in the light of unmet expectations. But out of a kind heart comes compassion and forgiveness and the generous act of thinking of others.
Kindness is spiritual practice. It’s a deep current that runs beneath the surface, supplying the grace to respond to both adversity and adversary with a gentleness that doesn’t come naturally. Grace is required and that grace is abundantly supplied to all Seekers.
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32