A Journey to Kindness

Kaila and Kieran, my grace givers

Kaila and Kieran, my grace givers

I remember the moment I spat the ugly words, punctuated with a piercing stare, “You act like children of the devil!” It was directed at my oldest children, who were then around nine and twelve years old. In the angry stillness that followed, Kaila, who has always been a mild-mannered child not given to back talk, looked at me with all her innocence and said slowly as though pondering some great mystery, “Mommy, if we are children of the devil, what does that make you?”

Time stood still and no one breathed as we waited for what would happen next.

The wind left my sails as I considered the answer and the truth in it. An apology followed and we salvaged what we could of the rest of the day, but my heart was pricked by yet another ugly stain on my checkered mothering past. We’ve since laughed about the day (along with others) Mom lost her mind and when they both were sure Kaila would lose her tongue, but secretly I’ve cried many times.

I’ve cried because I know love is kind, and I was not always kind. I was many things, but I was not kind.

I was intentional. I was nurturing. I was self-sacrificing. I was compassionate. I was generous. But I was not kind.

Kindness has been a journey for me, one full of determination and disappointment, but one also full of grace, both from God and from my children. I share it with you in the hopes that if you struggle with kindness, your own journey will be shorter.

My two youngest kindest teachers, Samara and Avielle

My two youngest kindness teachers, Samara and Avielle

Please don’t think I’ve arrived. I’m still broken many times over by my weakness in this area but I’m also reminded that it is my weakness that keeps me dependent upon God’s strength and that my children get to witness a life and a heart that is continually being changed by His strength as I remain teachable. I’m learning to love well as I learn to be kind.

Kindness changes everything. It softens hearts. It mends relationships. Kindness transmits love from head to heart, from knowing to feeling.

The scriptures say in Romans 2:4 that it is the kindness of God that leads to repentance. Doesn’t it make sense then that it is the kindness of a mother that leads to the same in her children? Why then do we often choose harsh words, fierce stares, and cold responses when we love so much? For me, it’s been because I like results and I want them yesterday. Kindness, however, requires patience. It is selfless and humble.

In the day to day, kindness cuddles a toddler when he’s fussy instead of scolds him, realizing we all have bad days too.

Kindness gives a soft answer instead of yelling at children who are yelling at each other AGAIN.

Kindness looks a pre-teen in the eyes and recognizes the doubts and insecurities instead of labeling it rebellion.

Kindness reminds teenagers to be faithful with what they have instead of telling them how ungrateful they are for all they’ve been given.

Each day, it is kindness that compels me to say I’m sorry to my husband even when he’s wrong, and it shows me how to fight fair. I’m good at fighting. I can hurl my endless words and he can’t compete and I can win the argument, but I lose him in those moments. Kindness shows me how to fight for him and for us instead of for my rights so we can both win.

Still the one I learn the most from

Still the one I learn the most from

Love is kind.

And if I want my love to translate to my family, if I want them to not just know with their minds, but feel with their hearts, that I love them dearly, then I must not love without kindness.

Memories of my failures often threaten to bog me down in the quicksand of guilt. The tears well up and spill over even now as I type. Still, I have to choose to let grace, not guilt, cover my yesterdays and carry me into my tomorrows. I hope you will do the same.

When I do, I am sweetly reminded of a good God who will never give up on me and of a husband and children who have always extended more grace than I have deserved. And in such moments, I am grateful that I am the daughter of such a merciful God, wife of such a kind man, and mother of such forgiving children.

And I’m grateful to all of you who visit me here and see my heart through all my flaws.

A Wedding Ring Valentine Discovery

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I just love love. I fall to pieces over a mushy love note, gush at Hallmark commercials, and keep every last sentimental scribble my children have ever given me. So imagine how my insides are upside down right now since the discovery of a treasured wedding ring I was sure was gone forever.

Nearly two years ago, I combed everything I owned in search of the solitaire diamond ring my husband had given me the night he proposed September 29, 1989. Married December 23 of the same year, I’ve never wanted another ring. I didn’t care that we could since afford a bigger diamond or that white gold is now in vogue. Jon chose it, spent what was equivalent to a fortune for a twenty-two-year-old struggling fisherman, and surprised me with it the day he drove into Seaford, DE after a cross-country trek from Alaska. To me, it symbolized eternity as we vowed to walk through our dreams hand in hand.

So when it disappeared on our own drive home from a summer of fishing in Alaska, I was heart-broken. Oh, I know it’s just a thing, but that ring was more than gold and a diamond. It was our story.

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I had worn it through every heartwarming moment and every heartbreaking argument Jon and I ever shared, through promises whispered and threats shouted, through successes gained and battles lost. It told of four babies delivered in hospitals and two in heaven, and it devastated me that I would not pass it on to the next generation as I passed along the stories that accompanied it.

After Christmas this year, I searched through every last piece of clothing I’d ever worn for that ring before giving up hope for good. I sat cross-legged on the attic floor alone and cried, feeling silly that I couldn’t let it go. Now here it is, the day before Valentine’s and I found what I was looking for where I never even thought to look. As I dumped the contents of an old tote bag I carry with me everywhere, I noticed a zipper I didn’t remember being there and tucked inside of it was my ring. It had been with me all along. What was lost is found and I can wear it again, not just as a symbol of a forever marriage but of restored hope.

Perhaps your marriage could use a little of that. Perhaps you’ve been looking for what once was, and are losing hope. Maybe like my ring, what you long for has been with you all along and you just don’t know where to look. I pray you don’t stop believing for it but also don’t live grieving over it in the meantime. God knows what your heart longs for and He is the giver of all good things (James 1:17). Even if He doesn’t give you what you’re looking for, He’ll always give you what you need. All you have to do is ask (James 4:2, John 14:13).

Valentine’s Day has changed since my husband and I first married. Romance looks a little different. It rarely includes late-night dates and dancing on the beach, but it is full of something much more real. After years of bandaging boo-boos together, settling sibling rivalry, surviving difficult diagnoses, we have learned what real love is. It’s not all candy hearts and chocolates (although I highly recommend the latter). It’s a story of two clueless people who defied the odds and found exactly what they were looking for.

I pray you’ll be inspired to do the same.

FREE Online Marriage Course from Tiffany Godfrey

Candy Abbott, Executive Director of Mothers With a Mission

Candy Abbott, Executive Director of Mothers With a Mission

My friend, author, and blogger, Tiffany Godfrey has a passion for marriage. Her goal is to provide life-changing content that will help women to strengthen their marriages.

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Candy Abbott
Executive Director
Mothers With a Mission