Four o’clock in the morning can be, for some, the worst time to be awake. The possibility of a couple more hours of sleep is a prize winning feat, or a tossing, sheet-twisting agonizing waste of time. But for a few of you out there, it’s the quiet before the business of the day begins it’s pulsing rhythm. As a Mama, I’ve seen four A.M. a whole book full of times. Sometimes, because of babies who needed feeding, dry sheets, or a thermometer under the arm. Or it’s my mind, waking with fears, anxieties, or lists that seem to be running their own race. But there have been a few times that four A.M. has been a place of changing. Changing my life, my very heart. A place of shifting to that other woman that I thought I would never have to become. Prayed I would never have to be, but, somehow now, grateful that I am.
Thirteen years ago last month, at four A.M., our first born son took his final breath. The stillness of the morning broken by the battered bewailing that emptied out of my soul. When it was time to leave him, my once broad shouldered husband simply hung by my side, his step no longer sure, but instead, reduced to a shuffle. His eyes swollen with the pooling. Somehow, our feet walked through doors to the place where his dad and step-mom sat. Waiting. At four A.M. they sat folded onto a hospital couch in a family room. Waiting. Stiffly, stifling their grief. We gave them permission to go home, and Ben and I found bathrooms to pour water over our faces.
To this day, I don’t remember the thought process that pushed me back through the doors and over to where our son lay under the lights. But here’s what I do remember. Their kindness. Their gentleness in handling me. The nurses had brushed rapidly at their own tears and with utmost care, removed every cord, tube, and IV from our baby. And with hands formed by a gentle God, they had wrapped him in a beautiful blue and white blanket. A blanket handmade by another woman I’ll never meet. Those nurses moved two chairs close together and gently tucked the baby into me. Ben sat too and held my hand. And finally, after a forever twenty-four hour period, we both slept.
Kindness is a noun. A concrete thing. Kindness is something every single one of us is capable of. Kindness opens eyes and sees the needs of others in all their flesh. In their vulnerability. In the bigger picture of erupting pain or stony silence, kindness can bridge the chasmic pits.
Mr. Roger’s (Neighborhood, from PBS), once shared a story of when he was a small boy and horrible things would happen, his mother, to help him process the scary thing, would always tell him, “Look for the helpers.” I translate this into looking for the kindness. To those who dip into the drama to hold humanity.
It can be hard. Sometimes, the ones who need the most kindness are the ones most difficult to approach. And sometimes, the situation grieves big and we’re overwhelmed, and we feel ill equipped. Yet Christ, who loves us so deeply and so consistently, lavishes kindness and goodness. Allows it to flow freely. Rhythmically. God does not grow weary in doing good, nor should we. And just as He laps the waves onto the seashore over and over, and cycles the seasons so we can work hard and harvest at times, and then rest when it’s time to rest, so He also moves kindness with a vagility to pulse into something that keeps moving. It does not and should not go stagnant.
Friend, what if kindness migrated? Could we be so gentle? Could we be like David who stands over his enemy with every ability to kill him, but instead walks away with just a small piece of his cloak? In 1 Samuel 24: 19 King Saul asks the question, “Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today.” And could we be like the men of Jabesh-Gilead who took the time to bury Israel’s first anointed king after he was killed in battle? In 2 Samuel 2:5-7, David blesses these men for their kind deed. The man who was hunted out of jealousy for years, is incapable of anything but allowing the fruit of kindness to flow freely from him. And how different, also, would our redemptive story be if not for the kindness of an innkeeper in a small town called Bethlehem who could not turn a young, laboring girl away, but quietly lit a light and led her and her fiancé to his stable?
Some of us can find a kind thing to do once in a while, when we suddenly have a moment of time on our hands and someone else’s emergent need scrolls through our Facebook feed, so we jump, because we impulsively can, and it’s the right thing to do. But what if we changed the habit of scrolling into a habit of sacrificing? Let’s be honest, habits are hard to change no matter how simplistic they look at first glance. But what if kindness flowed through our day, and our night, because it was the rhythm of our souls? What if YOU were the world changer because you changed the way you wanted the world to be?
Author Ann Voskamp writes “What if the truth really is that every tremor of kindness here erupts in a miracle elsewhere in the world?” What if kindness was what cycled bigger than the oceanic waves? How different would our hardships be if kindness was the power behind every motive? And in the still, early morning dawn, instead of being an island of shattering, what if small particles of healing could begin?
“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:9 & 10 (NLT).
Growing towards pure kindness,
Ann Voskamp, “Be The Gift”,( Zondervan 2017) pg.11