I wrote a post last fall on the importance of kindness. My little advice on how to be kind, you may find it here. I don’t often talk a lot about kindness since I grew up in the south and the “nice” portion of that often meant sweeping truths under the rug, backstabbing, and the like. Call it a trigger word, whatever. Also my personality has always a little “cruel to be kind” in it, it’s the rebel in me.
I tend to use words like – grace, mercy, love – these imply so much more than kindness or “being nice”. I wear my heart on my sleeve, there was a time in my life that I could not pretend to hide if I did not like you, I could not contain the feelings, mostly because I was so emotionally broken.
These days I am emotionally broken in a different way. Through years of therapy and spiritual discernment I am emotionally healthy, yet, with separation and divorce, loss and grief, I am emotionally raw. Over the last few weeks, as my news has become public, I have struggled to keep my emotions at bay, yet, I have been met with grace, mercy, and love.
Yesterday I returned to church for the first time since going public with the news of the separation. I was vulnerable. I have been vulnerable and my congregation responded to vulnerability beautifully, with vulnerability. They not only met me in it but became vulnerable themselves.
Because vulnerability begets vulnerability. Honesty begets honesty, love begets love, mercy, grace, and so on. It has not been easy for them, for anyone who knows and cares for my family, but it is not about ease, it is about authentic relationship.
There were many reasons I needed to keep the troubles in my marriage a secret from “the world”. I do not think that was the wrong choice, I talked to whom I needed to, I sought help, and I lived in genuine hope of reconciliation. But this choice left my community and many of my relationships in the dark about what was happening in my life. They are not mad, it’s not about that, but it has reminded me that we are masters at putting on a happy face for the world and hiding, masking what is really going on inside of us.
Since the news has gone public in my community people’s stories are coming out of the woodwork, not just of past struggles but of complications in life that, usually by choice, they are keeping secret until the time is right.
So be kind. Or better yet, treat others with grace and mercy and love. Because we are broken people who are masters at hiding our pain.