Last night my family and I embarked upon a new study for our home. We are studying from the book Character Building for Families by Lee Ann Rubsam. It is a book meant to assist the bible student in developing godly character traits. While it certainly can be studied “in order” it can also be studied by jumping from trait to trait, so long as you finish a lesson before starting the next. So, to start our study I asked my children what they felt was our family’s biggest weakness. It was quite humbling listening to them give their answer. The overall issue was that kindness was lacking in our home.
As we continued our little study, another harsh reality set in. I asked the kids to define kindness. The older three had no issues in defining kindness. One stated that kindness is handling something gently. Another stated that kindness is seen in how you talk to someone else. As I looked at the definition sitting in front of me in the book, it was as if they had already read the lesson before we sat down to meditate upon God’s word. Kindness is speaking to another tenderly. It is being mindful of other people’s feelings, actions, etc. It is treating another with love. Before we moved on any further, the sad reality set in. It is not that we don’t know what kindness is. It is not that we don’t know how to practice kindness. The issue was about application.
As I contemplated this harsh reality I began to wonder how many other people have similar problems in their homes. Would we talk to our bosses the way we take to our spouses? Would we talk to our friends they way we talk to our siblings? Would we talk to our brothers and sisters in Christ the same way we talk to our children? Chances are good that we don’t. Now, I am not saying that the average home, or even my home, is constantly filled with bitterness, backbiting, and abusive speech. However, I am saying that the average home in 21st century America does. Statistics are showing this to be the case. Conversations I have had with husbands and wives show this to be the case. And how we perceive our home shows this to be the case. How many of us look for that extra job at work to do, not because we need the overtime but because we aren’t ready to go home? How many of us go out after work because going home means more time with the spouse? How many of us look for any excuse to get out of the house? More often than not, when we do such things we do them because we kindness or gentleness is not on our tongues (or at the very least not on our spouses tongues).
Then I began thinking about the fact that no one marries a person that isn’t nice to them. No one marries a person that yells at them all day. No one marries a person that treats them like dirt. No one wants to marry a person that brings out the worst in you. We marry the person that brings out the best in us. We marry the person we feel that we can’t live without. We marry the person that it is easy to be kind to. So, a lack of kindness in our marriage is not because we don’t know how to be kind. We know how. The lack of kindness in our marriage is not because we never were kind. We once were. So, what brought about the change?
I am convinced that we cease to care to be kind. I know for my house, we are changing that. Before we lose the foundation for our home, before it seems like it is too late and bitterness sets in. I encourage you to follow suit. I don’t want to find out 10 years from now that I am alone because I failed to treat my wife and my kids with the kindness they deserve.