“Be kind, always. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
I’ve read those words countless times. I’ve heard people speak them countless times. I know at least one person who truly lives life with that mantra always at the top of the priority list.
I think I’m well above average on the “be kind” spectrum. I’ve bitten my tongue more than once when someone has said something to me as a personal attack in a way that was meant to be a personal attack. I’ve aspired to be the bigger person. Sometimes, I can let go of the anger and hurt of a comment hurled at me. Sometimes, I can’t.
At the risk of alienating those readers who are at the top of the “be kind” spectrum, I’m sorry that what I’m about to say will not measure up to you and possibly disappoint what you thought you knew about me, but… here’s how I see it….
I am much more forgiving and willing to turn my cheek for a stranger, a person I don’t know who knows nothing about me. Everyone is entitled to have a bad day (or moment) and everyone who is experiencing that has a breaking point. Having worked in the hotel industry where guests checking in are upset because they got lost, or their kids were yelling for the last hour of their road trip or any other reason will often take out how they feel on the front desk agent responsible for checking them in. That job gave me a lot of experiencing learning how to sympathize, apologize and agree that I’m sure they are glad to finally be at the hotel safe and sound. In effect, we learn how to diffuse their frustration without taking on the blame of it ourselves. I suspect almost every person who has ever worked the front desk of a hotel has, at one time or another, been brought to tears by a guest who is beyond the breaking point of frustration and explodes in that agent’s face. It’s not that they don’t deserve the same type of treatment in our response to them (because usually, they do!), but we know that what is best for us, as well as for them, is to get them checked in and away from the desk towards their room as quickly as possible, so we suck it up. (NOTE: If that kind of guest is you, trust me when I tell you that we will alert every other employee who might come in contact with you about the kind of person you are so that they are prepared!)
But, there are times when, in fact, I have “turned the other cheek” to someone who had no qualm about reaching out and slapping that one as well. The way I see it, you’ve had both of my cheeks, and if you come back at me a third time, all bets are off that I will bite my tongue. That third attempt will show me that you’re not having a bad day, instead, it will show me that you’re a bad person.
And I come back to, yet again, those people who loudly talk the talk about being these great Christians and then walk the walk of someone who has no aspiration to be a true Christian. I’m dealing with one of those people right now, and every day, I need to remind myself to keep my mouth shut and just let Karma do the work from me. I’m dealing with someone who I’ve known for over 50 years, who has been a part of my extended family for those years, and who has been intentionally condescending to me on multiple occasions. I’ve held my tongue each of those times out of respect for other extended family members. Recently, I learned that this person has acted in such a way that could be classified as “theft by deception” and has done so to my immediate family. Now it’s become a legal matter, incurring legal costs in order to get back what is owed to my immediate family. Again, I’m biting my tongue, as I have not been in contact with this person since 2015, and truly don’t wish to be in contact ever again in my lifetime.
Oh, but that I wish I could say just one thing to this person’s face: “Remember when you tartly disciplined me for not saying “in Jesus’ name we pray” before saying “amen” to grace before a meal and assured me that I couldn’t get to heaven except through Jesus? Well, for your sake, I hope that forgiveness is a real thing and that you find the way to be true when asking for forgiveness. Otherwise, my chances of getting into heaven are a whole lot better than yours.”
So, be disappointed with me if you must, according to your own judgement, but there are times I don’t think that “always” being “kind” is advantageous to our own well-being. And I can look at myself in the mirror and be okay with that.