Sunday, January 10, 2016

And It Is Kindess....

by Sarah Van Diest

“…I was in the middle before I knew I had begun.”

Words by Jane Austen from her novel, Pride and Prejudice, spoken by Mr. Darcy as he attempted to explain to Elizabeth how he came to be in love with her. He could not tell her the moment it began, as if it had crept up on him and had been working quietly behind the scenes of his consciousness.

It wasn’t until he was hopelessly in love with her that he realized it at all. And in the process of moving from the disdain and arrogance he held prior to the love and admiration he felt now, his heart had changed. He had recognized his prideful ways and hateful manner. He remembered the humility he had been raised to walk in as a young boy. He had witnessed her kindness toward her sister, Jane, who had been ill, and her patience and forbearance with those who were unkind around her. Her kindness had effected his heart. Her kindness had softened him.

It is, after all, kindness that leads us to repentance. (See Romans 2:4.)

The scoldings and beratings we level on others or on ourselves for wayward ways, work backwards on us. We may see the outward change we desire; behavior may change, but the heart does not respond to beatings by caring more and growing larger, it responds by hardening up and sizing down.

We may have learned this lesson as we raised our children or lived with our spouse, but we may still be beating ourselves hoping to force our hearts into submission. We may not offer ourselves the kindness we give freely to those we love.

I have a thought sometimes that, metaphorically speaking, if I have swept the floor that means I’ve earned a seat at the table. It follows that if I have not swept the floor, that there is no chair for me. It is the sense that one must earn their right to not just sit at the table, but their right to breathe; to exist.

George Bernard Shaw was famous for his writing, but he made another name for himself for what some interpreted as his harsh view on mankind. Though his comments were likely made with the purpose of pointing out the absurdity of taking ideas, such as eugenics, too far, some have claimed his position on the value of man was an ignoble and stringent view based solely on what a person could do for the good of society. 

Shaw was quoted as saying the following in regard to the lethal use of the gas chamber: “A great many people would have to be put out of existence simply because it wastes other people's time to look after them." There is no doubt this is an extreme statement, and not one most of us identify with, but don’t we do this to lesser degrees? Don’t we quietly say that if somehow we haven’t been “enough,” given enough, done enough, that we are unworthy, unloved and unwelcome? That the table, and especially the meal at the table, are not available to us?

But is that God’s heart toward us? Are we reflecting the attitude God has when He sees us in our various states of “enough-ness?” Do our efforts make us more valuable to Him? And if He desires to see us bear fruit, how does He go about encouraging us in this? Does He threaten us, punish us, or berate us to get more out of us? Or does He feed us good food, strengthen us with His Spirit, and walk with us every step of the way? (I am not, of course, saying God does not discipline, I am saying He is kind.)

The heart disposed to kindness is closer to the heart of God than any I can think of. Kindness embodies love, mercy, compassion, and is the hands and feet of each of those. It is the expression of those.

Not long ago my husband and I were at a diner. He often starts conversations with our waiter/waitress, in this case, it was a woman in her 40’s. At one point in the conversation he asked her this, “If you could stand in front of a church, any church, and tell the people there anything at all, what would you say?” She thought for several moments seriously contemplating her reply and then said only this, “Be kind.” And walked away. It was a powerful moment.

Be kind. Show kindness. Let the love we say our Father is flow through us. Don’t stifle it. Don’t beat people, including ourselves, with the lie that says we have to earn a seat at the table. Be kind.

Where scoldings and beratings may lead to changes in behavior, it is kindness that leads our hearts to change. Abiding in Christ, growing in an understanding of the character of God, and allowing God’s love to penetrate our hearts is how we become more like Him. Are we kind to ourselves? Do we let God show His kindness to us?

“Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” Romans 2:4.

Sarah has worked in Christian publishing since 2005 as both an editor and an agent.

Currently, she works with her husband, David, in their agency, the Van Diest Literary Agency. Writing is a growing passion for her as she hopes to bring hope to hurting hearts.


  1. Sarah, Powerful post. I try to be kind to everyone, sometimes leaving myself out. Thank you for the reminder to be kind to myself.

    1. Greetings, Cherrilynn.
      I think I need that reminder several times a day!
      Blessings and thanks for your words!

  2. This is beautiful and profound. Thank you for sharing your rich soul with us today.

  3. Thank you, Danetta.
    Forgive me for my late reply. I just saw your comment today. Thank you for your words...I think the Lord knew what day I needed to read them: today.
    I am humbled by them and encouraged. Thank you so much!