The other day in the grocery store I was noticing that a couple of the aisles had gone completely pink. Everything on the shelves was in pink or red packaging. Right, it’s February and the feast of St. Valentine is coming (although, I’m not sure that’s exactly what the marketers were thinking of)!
The Church kicked off the month of February by calling us to reflect on love through the Mass readings, which included these classic verses by St. Paul:
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love is never jealous or envious, never boastful, nor proud, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offense.
Love does not demand its own way. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over another’s sins, but delights in truth.
There is nothing love cannot face. Love always protects, always trusts. Love hopes all things. Love endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
What a beautiful vision of love! I had been to confession earlier that weekend and for my penance, the priest asked me to sit with these scripture verses and let the Lord speak to me through them. I suppose he sensed my need for a refresher on what it means to love – to put the love of God into action through my life. Patience. Kindness. Selflessness. Forgiveness. As I prayed, Oh Lord, teach me to love like this!, the line that pulled at my heart was “love is kind.”
Kindness is such a simple thing, isn’t it? A smile here, a sincere “I’m happy to see you today” there… Simple to give and powerful to receive. In a recent article, Dr. Bruce Perry, researcher, psychiatrist, and expert in childhood trauma, explains the healing power of kindness:
“Just as a traumatic experience can alter a life in an instant, so too can a therapeutic encounter. The good news is that anyone can help with this part of ‘therapy’ – it merely requires being present in social settings and being, well, basically, kind…attentive, attuned, and responsive…The more we can provide each other these moments of simple, human connection – even a brief nod or a moment of eye contact – the more we’ll be able to heal those who have suffered traumatic experience.”
Wow, so we are each empowered to facilitate healing. How awesome is that?! A sincere and kind encounter with an attentive, responsive other brings the Lord’s love to life. He can use our efforts to bring healing and restoration!
Start at ‘Home’
Ever heard the expression, ‘you cannot give what you do not have?” In context here, to effectively participate in one another’s healing process, it is essential that we also extend kindness to ourselves. Kristen Neff, author and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, defines self-kindness as “being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism.” When we are kind to ourselves, not only do we support our own peace-of-mind and sense of belonging, we also create a reservoir of compassion that extends to those around us. We heal in community.
One simple way to keep our reservoir full is to be in supportive dialogue with ourselves each day. The two simple steps below have helped me transform my relationship with myself. I hope you’ll give them a try!
- Begin each day by saying, ‘Good morning, [insert your first name]. I am here with you. I will be by your side all day today.’
- Ask yourself, ‘what words would be helpful to hear from me today?’ – and listen for your answer. You may hear the need for words of encouragement such as ‘I know you can handle this’ Or ‘you’re doing a good job’ Or ‘Jesus loves you so much.’ Let these be the words you speak to yourself in the difficult or trying moments that will inevitably arise.
Here is the link to listen to a conversational teaching on self-kindness / self-compassion. This is a 20-minute recorded conversation between myself and a coaching client in which she shares her personal story and an important approach to help us grow in loving kindness towards ourselves: https://youaremadenew.com/wp-content/uploads/YouDontHaveanInnerCritic.wav
Let’s invite the Lord into this process as we close with a prayer: Jesus, thank you for Your Love, which flows in a continuous, perpetual stream into my heart, my mind, my spirit. Teach me to soak it up, to fully receive what You offer me, drowning my fears and anxieties in Your Perfect Love. Teach me to generously extend kindness unto myself, that I might be filled with peace and calm, able to effectively share Your Love with others. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Copyright 2019, De Yarrison