I had written in my blog (April 29th-The Best Parts) that I wanted to explore the essential virtues for the basis of loving another person in a romantic relationship. So I begin with Kindness.
These virtues are kindness, optimism, courage, loyalty, tolerance, flexibility, beauty, humor, honesty, and intelligence.
Gordon Livingston, in his book How To Love has espoused these virtues as the building blocks for a solid relationship.
I have actually created questions around these virtues that I have asked potential dates- sort of a way to see how they would answer behavioral situations.
Today though, I would like to drill down into the virtue of Kindness.
The mere pronunciation and sound of the word Kindness evokes a feeling of warmth.
We see kindness all around us in many ways and deeply appreciating it in ourselves and in others spreads even more of it for us all to enjoy.
When I am dating a man, I pay attention to the kindness he exhibits to me and to other people we interact with, He may pull out the chair or open the door for me (which if he doesn’t, he has already lost marks), but it is the way he interacts with the waiter or other strangers. And just as a side note: I deeply appreciate each time a man pulls out a chair or opens a door for me, I don’t take this for granted.
Kindness. If you look the word up, the descriptors take up almost a whole column. Here are a few definitions:
1. Of a friendly nature, generous, hospitable, warmhearted, good.
2. Charitable,helpful; showing sympathy or understanding
4. Forbearing; tolerant
7. Agreeable; beneficial
Kindness is so essential to our growth. Being kind to one another has better dividends than the greatest financial investment you could ever choose. Being kind grows exponentially for others and yourself.
The more aware I am of practicing kindness with others, the more it becomes a natural act. Kindness does not hide behind fear or a feeling of lack.
What if we all put our attention on kindness for one day? We could cloak ourselves in it and everything we see or touch has the feeling, the warmth, and the action of kindness behind it? What a day this would be!
I cannot expect to find a life partner who exhibits these virtues if I do not practice them myself. No, let me correct this statement. I may have partner who exhibits the virtue of kindness, but if I do not appreciate his acts of kindness, I will not foster the growth of the relationship.
Kindness is at the basis of most religions. Christ was the epitome of kindness and warmheartedness. He walked among the poor, the lame, the sick, and the mentally ill and had great empathy and compassion for them. His acts of kindness were intentional. They were not random. He healed those who were ready for healing. He healed those who would not only be affected by the physical healing, but more importantly be affected by the spiritual healing.
How can we have intentional acts of kindness that are wise acts? Acts that impact another in such a way that changes the structure of a life? Sometimes we don’t know the impact of an act of kindness. But listening to Spirit, to the inner voice we can be guided like Christ.
My assignment in attracting a man who is kind is to be kind, to be warm-hearted and generous. In a relationship it becomes easy to forget and even ignore the kindess of your partner.
When I was married to my first husband, I did not have the habit of saying please and thank you with my requests. He helped me understand how important this is. I began starting or ending my sentences with please or thank you. I look back at the 17 years of marriage and my appreciation for his teaching and insisting I instill this habit makes me grateful to him. He is a kind man in many ways, and I did not appreciate this about him.
I look forward to being in a relationship where my partner and I can show kindness to one another. The man I dated briefly (and who is so kind) performed the smallest task that touched me greatly. After he opened the car door for me, and I sat in the passenger side, he grabbed the seatbelt and handed it to me. It warmed my heart. I felt taken care of, even protected.
The one person we usually are the least kind to is ourselves. When the breakup happens or you feel less than good about something you failed in, it’s easy to beat yourself up. Don’t!
Be kind and tolerant and generous and humane with yourself. We are all human, experiencing our lives in the best way we know how. Our compassion for others goes only as far as our compassion for ourselves.
I find I have to forgive and love myself even more when I see how a pattern of my own fears or hurt have sabatoged my good intentions. We are meant to grow and expand in our lifetimes. We cannot if we starve ourselves of the same milk of kindness we are so ready to give to another.
The man I was seeing decided to bow out from our relationship. It saddens me because I saw so many of the virtues of love within him. I wanted to appreciate his kindness, perhaps for a lifetime. My last words to him were, “I will always hold a space of love and kindness for you. I will believe the best of you regardless of what I don’t know.”
Not bashing him after the breakup and not trying to make him the “bad guy” for leaving the potential of us is the best way I can be kind to him. When my girlfriends say bad things about him, I correct them and tell them he is a kind man. I know this and maintain my intergrity in the truth.
I wish I could appreciate and show him my kindness, but sadly I cannot. I turn instead to appreciating my kindness, my capacity for kindness to others. I will generously give kindness today and in the days to come. It is a good way to heal and to grow.
Today, let us all be sensitive to others. Let us listen to our hearts and most of all be kind to ourselves in the process.
1 Corinthians 13:4, “Love is patient, love is kind.”