My dentist started the morning with his head in a toilet. The receptionist, apologizing on his behalf, told me that the call I’d ignored while driving ten minutes ago had been to let me know that Dr. Matthews was out with the stomach flu.
I stood in front of her, rain dripping from my hastily brushed hair, haphazardly dressed in whatever I had grabbed from my bedroom floor. My daughter and I had moved heaven and earth to get there at 6:30 a.m., and I looked like it.
The receptionist blinked at me warily, seemingly prepared to shoulder my expected displeasure.
How was I going to respond?
I thought of three options:
- As a grumpy, sleep-deprived, working mom operating without the fortification of caffeine.
- As an organized business professional offended by the lack of office organization that allowed an unacceptable delay in the procedure and my extreme inconvenience.
- As a compassionate Christian who treats others like Jesus would.
Ugh! Number three, I guess.
Taking a deep breath, I assured her that life happens and, “Hey, now my daughter and I can go grab breakfast before I returned her to school.”
She visibly relaxed. The tension around her eyes lessened and she returned my smile. She thanked me for my kindness and understanding. She talked about how difficult it has been to do this task and how much she appreciated my response. We exchanged a few more pleasantries, and then back I went into the rain and cold.
I wish I could tell you that all of my natural irritation had melted away into rainbows and butterflies, but I can’t. I left as tired, frumpily dressed, and inwardly cranky as I had arrived.
Kindness, defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate, is easy when we get our way.
We are thankful to the friendly driver for letting us in after we realized we were in the wrong lane. We are grateful for the generosity of the driver ahead of us who paid for our coffee and didn’t order drinks in the drive-through for his whole office staff. We are considerate to the coworker who did everything on time.
Kindness is easy when our will is being done and the world around us has acknowledged it.
The problems start when we are not getting our way, and too often we justify our bad behavior based on an inward sense of entitlement.
“That driver is rude and should realize that I am in a hurry and had the right of way!”
“That guy in the line in front of me should remember that people are running late to work and order his twelve lattes inside!”
“My coworker should understand that their irresponsibility is causing me extra work when I’m already buried in it!”
These things may all be true.
However, God doesn’t give me permission to be a donkey hole.
I have been called to reflect who He is in the world around me.
I love how Colossians 3:12-14 (MSG) says it:
“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”
Somedays I forget. I start braying loudly for my will to be done and for the world to bend to my command.
Thankfully, God is faithful to remind me that I was made in His image. That I am a new creature and need to act like it.
He can do the same for you.