Improving The Silence With Kindness And Love

People are a bit cranky lately, aren’t they? It wasn’t enough that we had division when it came to politics, but now we’ve added on the handling of the coronavirus.

It’s amazed me how many experts we have on all sides of the coin. And yes, I suppose I am being a bit sarcastic here.

Most who know me know I love differing opinions. Listening to what others are saying is how we often learn. That is if we keep ourselves teachable. But if you find yourself at odds with anyone who challenges you on an opinion, maybe you should examine why you’re so sensitive.

Don’t look to the easy answers. The easy answer is that people are disagreeing with your “facts”. But why is that such a concern to you? Will disagreeing with your facts put them at harm? Sometimes it will and often that is when you must speak up. But first ask yourself, is your response true, loving, and kind? If not, maybe you’re not the one to speak.

Many of you know I am quite comfortable being around people with diverse religious beliefs. A lot of you know that because our views may differ and we share a beautiful friendship and great conversation. My faith is not threatened by someone believing differently than me. It’s not based on people and their opinions.

As for you, I am not the Holy Spirit. It’s not my job to convict you of sin. Why would I feel angry with you because you don’t look at everything the same way I do? Even if I believe you’re wrong, should I be angry? God can handle people who are wrong. You don’t have to punish or coerce or stab their souls.

We have been down different roads in this life, often created for different purposes. We’re going to get things wrong, and not always the same things. Perhaps we’re both mistaken.

As a Christian I believe that if I could have gotten it all right, Jesus would not have had to die. There’s incredible freedom in reveling in that gift.

My opinions about God have changed over my life. I don’t believe that is because of me. I’m pretty stubborn. Changing my mind used to be almost impossible. But God leads, I follow. I’ve learned that if I look to God instead of people, peace happens. So does change.

But back to all the crankiness. When it gets down to it, you need to be kind and you need to be loving. I think that’s a rule that should be adopted by all, regardless of your religious beliefs. If you have attention deficit issues as I do, simply try focusing on increasing love and kindness in your life for a while and forget about the rest. You will be changed. And humbled.

And let’s talk about humility a bit. You don’t have to win. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t have to make sure everyone believes what you believe.

If you have incredibly strong and unchanging opinions on everything, maybe ask yourself “Who do I think I am?” If your answer is “Right,” think more. Is it more important to you to be right, or kind and loving?

I’m naturally opinionated. Well, maybe “nurturally” opinionated. My mom is opinionated, my dad was opinionated, and my family at large is opinionated. We all have our moments when being right seems our most critical goal.

And our opinions are not always the same. Sometimes I want to put a sign around certain people’s necks that says “Kim McKinney loves this person madly, but only believes about 25% of what they believe.”

My family can co-exist with different opinions. There are subjects we don’t bring up because they are inflammatory and we’re not changing anyone’s minds. OK, usually they do come up and we may fight it out for a bit.

When my siblings and I were kids, we’d scream “I hate you” and run to our rooms, slamming the doors. That was a daily occurrence in our house. Five minutes later it would be forgotten and we’d be giggling on the sofa.

My family is still like that. There are few people who can get me angrier, but also noone who has been as loving and kind to me so often as one of them. If you know the people who surround my life, that’s big talk. I know some of the most kind and loving folks on the planet.

I admit there have been times lately where people have disappointed me. I know some of you have felt the same. How are you handling it? Are you grabbing their words and holding them in your heart so you can nurture them to the point of heartburn and hate? Or are you considering them, considering your own thoughts and reaction to them, releasing what needs to go, and praying for a bit more wisdom, love, understanding, and truth?

Someone’s Facebook post got me riled the other day. I wrote out a long post in response, only to lose it. I have no clue how it happened. I simply fumbled and couldn’t recover. That was OK. I still remembered my thoughts. I typed it out again and I lost it again. By time I am typing it out for the third time it occurred to me that maybe God didn’t want me in this battle. I retreated. Even though I still believe not only was I correct, but God stands behind those words I was typing. But for some season keeping my mouth shut in that conversation was important.

Oh it was hard. I had knowledge that could have possibly changed minds. I thought it was critical to set things straight. Me not saying anything may have meant some people believed my opinion was something that it wasn’t. But why would I waste time worrying about that?

Funny thing though. I am not the only one in the world called to speak my opinion. In fact, quite often I am called to keep my mouth shut and pray instead. That prayer is for the purpose of reminding me to watch God work without me. Those times teach me a lot about both God and me.

Sometimes God slaps my hands away and tells me that correcting the “wrong” opinions in the world is not always my job. Yeah, that about kills me. But I believe it is true. That’s not to say that sometimes it is the opposite. My tongue will be overtaken and I am speaking when I don’t want to talk. My fingers will be rolling across the keys and I can’t seem to stop them.

This verse has been on my mind lately as I see examples of people wanting to be right more than they want to be kind or loving.

“God loves you and has chosen you as his own special people. So be gentle, kind, humble, meek, and patient. Put up with each other, and forgive anyone who does you wrong, just as Christ has forgiven you. Love is more important than anything else. It is what ties everything completely together.” – Colossians 3:12-14 (CEV)

I may not get everything right, but if love is more important than everything else, that means more than your need to be right or force others to agree you’re right, correct?

I ran across this quote that I believe provides a great and simple checklist to get us to think before we speak. Or post.

“Before you speak, ask yourself: Is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve the silence?”Sathya Sai Baba

Let’s be people who improve the silence. And let’s do that with kindness and love and regard for other people. You’re often getting riled up about things totally out of your control, and your opinion will not make a difference in what’s going to happen (or has already happened). Is this how you’re supposed to be living moments of your precious life? That answer is between you and God.

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