Kindness vs. Pesky Sisters

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 ESV

 

Sometimes we really get on each others nerves, don’t we?

 

Recently my daughters were having a conflict over the expected standards of cleanliness and organization in their room. Both are little neat freaks, but they have different expectations of what that looks like.

They wanted to focus on who had done more, who was right, and whose turn it was to put away stuff.

How do we get along in relationships when these types of conflicts arise?

Relationships aren’t 50%/50%.

Relationships are 100%/100%.

For a relationship to thrive, this needs to be our stance whether we think the other person is giving their whole 100 or not.  We simply assume they are and we focus on doing our part.

But what does giving 100% look like?
Someone gets hit last. Let it be you. This is what I tell my boys when they are fighting.  In any fight if the goal is to get along, someone must be willing to be hit last.  Let it be you.

  • Assume full responsibility. Assuming responsibility for everything breeds gratitude for anything others do to lift the load.
  • It’s always my job to say, “I’m sorry,” first. If the ultimate goal is to reconcile, then whoever notices first that an apology needs to be made is the one to get the ball rolling.

 

Kindness includes FORGIVENESS

            What is forgiveness? A practical definition is: accepting the pain and releasing the offender from the obligation to remove it.

 

This is what Jesus did for us.  He took on the pain and suffering of the cross and his forgiveness free us for any obligation to make that pain go away.

 

Besides, most of the time, there really isn’t anything the offender can do to take away the pain anyway.  They can apologize, which is helpful, but it doesn’t really take the pain away.

 

Kindness includes being TENDERHEARTED.

            Not everyone is in your place. What comes easy to you may not come easy to others.  Often people are also fighting a battle in their own mind of guilt, shame, embarrassment, or defeat worse than anything we can see on the outside.

 

A wise friend once suggested: God is working on everyone. If it doesn’t seem like he’s working on a particular area that frustrates you, that just means he’s working on something more important.  Extend grace.

 

Finally, I like to think of relationships like a figure 8, or an infinity symbol.

Each circle represents a pattern we can go around:

 

Cycle of togetherness

            This circle builds communication, community, connection, and love.

 

Cycle of aloneness

This circle builds resentment, victimhood, pride, and isolation.

 

As we go around these circles, we move through 4 processes:
Belief, Feelings, Actions, and Results

 

It looks like this:
I believe we are a team, I feel happy about working together, I help the other person be successful, we connect and rejoice over whatever we accomplished, which in turns confirms our belief that we are a team and continues the cycle.

 

Or

I believe that I’m the only one working on this relationship, so I feel alone, which causes me to act as if it’s all up to me in a resentful way, and I notice what I do, what they don’t, and what they should be doing, which leads me to believe that I’m the only one working on the relationship, which continues the cycle.

 

At any moment, in any one of the four processes we can jump on or off one of the cycles.
The challenge is to stay on the cycle of togetherness as an act of kindness to your relationship, even if the other person jumps off.

Whatever we are doing, we are always proving one or the other cycle true with our beliefs, feelings, actions, and results.

To recap:
Kindness looks like

Giving 100/100 all the time.

Choosing forgiveness.

Being tenderhearted.
Staying on the cycle of togetherness.

 

What is that one thing that hits home for you in your relationships with others?
Take one action today!

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