Friday, August 29, 2008

Kindness Begins with Me

Sometimes the most complicated problems have the simplest solutions...

I've been thinking lately about trials -- my own, and the trials of a few friends. No matter how perfect we try to be (or how perfect others seem to be), we all suffer at some point.

A friend once told me about the caretaker of an apple orchard. Occasionally the trees would branch out in new limb and leaf, leaving little energy for the actual growing of fruit. The care taker would take a baseball bat and beat the trunk of the tree. The beating would send the tree into shock and help it to 'reprioritize.' :) I'm pretty sure my trials are the baseball bat to my trunk. Sometimes I need a good whack (symbolically - I don't advocate corporal punishment!) to get my priorities in line. :)

About a year ago, my husband and I sought the council of our bishop after a particularly painful fight. I wasn't too pleased with his advice (yes, I'm hardheaded) -- He told us to be kind. Kind?! My kindergarten teacher told me to be kind. I had a complicated problem here -- my marriage felt like it was falling apart. I needed a complicated, life-altering solution!

I guess I'm a bit of a Naaman (the Old Testament Syrian who was told by the prophet Elisha to wash 7 times in the River Jordan to be healed of leprosy.). Naaman basically said, "Look, I've bathed before - in rivers that were heaps better than the Jordan. Yeah, right!" And for a few months, I thought, "I've been kind before. Kindness doesn't fix the problem!" But the good news is that Naaman did, eventually, go bathe in the Jordan and was healed. My bishop was right -- I took a few more whacks of the 'baseball bat' before I really believed him, but I have great hope that this doctrine will seep deep into my bones, because I know now that it's true.

Kindness - the essence of true charity - can fix a broken heart. As in all things, the Savior is our ultimate example - turning the other cheek, giving the cloak and the coat, walking two miles instead of just one. These responses are so unnatural - but that's the point. We aren't trying to be natural. We're trying to be better than that -- we're trying to be like God.

So whatever your trial is (if you aren't in one right now, rest assured you will be at some point!), may I recommend that you look for the simple solution? It's simply to live the gospel - the best that you can. My best is pretty pathetic at times - but Heavenly Father knew it would be, so He gave us our Savior to pick up the slack. I am so grateful for His love - it teaches me how to love - in a way that never fails.

"Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other."
Marvin J. Ashton, “The Tongue Can Be a Sharp Sword,” Ensign, May 1992, 18

8 comments:

Michelle said...

I love this, Tara. Thanks for sharing. You uplifted me today!

Christal said...

What a good post! Thanks, Tara for sharing your insightful experience with us! For some reason, I'm reminded of Mary Poppins here,"...a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down..."

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your testimony. I was telling my husband just yesterday that we need more harmony in our home and I've been praying about it. Your formula will certainly help us!

Krysta said...

I think this was meant just for me (don't we all?) no really...I have been so unkind to my very own family for the past week (maybe two) and they are so kind and understanding to me, even though I haven't been the nicest. Thank you for reminding me that even though women (meaning me) get moody, it's no excuse for me to be unkind! :) Thanks Tara!

Kimberlee Adams said...

I loved this post. It was truly something I needed to hear for certain things in my life right now. I love the way you wrote this post. I know I don't know you but you wrote it sounding like you are such a normal person with problems like everyone else and your hard head. It makes it very easy to relate to you because you aren't trying to prove to anyone that your life is perfect. THANK YOU!!!

Andrea said...

Thanks Tara. I needed to be reminded to let my hard headedness go, and just be kind. It is a nice reminder that it really is that easy.

Lorinda said...

The quote by Marvin J Ashton is a perfect reminder and just what I needed to 'let go' of some painful feelings I've been struggling with. Thanks.

Sarah said...

Tara, this post is so poignant and simple. Thank you for posting this reminder to be kind. I am sure I will re-visit this site and this post on more than one occasion to reflect on this insight.