This blog is split into two parts. Though I believe kindness and patience ought to be joined together onto a single path, I have only now begun my journey with these two concepts and ways of being. As I am on this journey exploring the realm and wholesomeness of kindness and patience, I long to reach a point where I muster enough skill to merge together these two concepts onto a single path—a single path towards righteousness: to be of good intentions and of goodwill.
Part 1: To Be Kind
Kindness has resonated within my soul for a long time now. For some reason, I have been bound to the idea that I ought to be considerate, kind, and generous to others. I have come to believe that kindness and pursuing it wholly will lead me on a path towards righteousness. Still, I struggle regarding this pursuit. I have come to learn that being bound to an idea does not automatically entail I will act accordingly to that idea.
I will admit, I am not always kind. I have often been harsh and spiteful in my engagements with others. This last presidential election and the dialogues that ensued captured the absence of my kindness. At one point, I believe I wrote on Facebook, “F*** those who voted and support Donald Trump.” That was my lowest point. It was a poor reflection of what I aspire to be, and I ought to do all I can to avoid repeating such hateful behavior going forward.
Fortunately for me, I am habitually reminded within that I ought to be kind regardless of the way an interaction may have been going. I am uncertain as to why I have this habitual reminder within, but I have not resisted it; I have only embraced it. I truly feel called to the interpretation of righteousness I wrote above. Interpreting, conceptualizing, and my want to embrace kindness as a way of being has never been a difficult undertaking for me. But as I alluded to earlier, I have struggled to wrap my mind around being wholly kind. In the many interactions I have failed in being kind, I have grown accustomed to reflecting on what I did and what I could have done for a healthier engagement. Often, I think to myself, “ZACH! Why did you have to push her buttons? Because you felt attacked?! Why did you not approach the interaction calmly and level with her to remedy the issue at hand? Why would you resort to harshness?” And sadly, even after these reflections, the process repeats itself. It is a behavioral pattern, and I must recondition myself to break away from it.
Without a doubt, I believe reflection to be a crucial step in my ability to grow, but it is apparent in my writing that I am exhausted of imagining and reimagining scenarios that could have been avoided if I simply stuck to kindness. Why is it so difficult for me to be wholly kind? Why do I have to find a reason in a tense moment to withhold my kindness? This struggle, obviously, will not fade away by me wishing it away, but by challenging myself to act kind in all types of situations may remedy my exhaustion. I know kindness may not always resolve moments of tension and of hate, but if I can do my part by not adding to a tense situation, I can at least leave the interactions with my good intention and goodwill for the other. And I believe that is where I ought to start my journey.
Part 2: To Be Patient
My mind rushes like no other, and when my mind rushes, my actions are rushed as well. This rush of thought and expression has led to a recurring response that goes like, “Zach, think before you talk.” I have heard this response from a range of people, and I never really thought anything of it. To me, it felt more like an attack against my being and against my blunt and very literal expression. It really wasn’t, though. Instead, I ought to have taken these recurring responses as fair criticism against my being and expressive nature. And in my failure to slow down, many of my interactions have been led astray. My failure to slow down has invited people’s frustrations and has led to people feeling disrespected. Though I may be hardheaded in my passions and I may not budge at times, triggering ill-feelings is not only a terrible approach to express my passions but is also not a reflection of who I aspire to be. I aspire to be calm, collected, kind, and of love. I cannot do that if I do not slow down.
To slow down is to be patient. And in being patient, I may actually be able to think before I talk. To many, this may be as simple as playing checkers, but I have come to realize that I do indeed speak as I think rather than think to then speak. It is rather refreshing as I practice this. I am much more able to collect my thoughts, consider the person I am engaging with, and envision the route of the engagement. I am in the moment. I am not lost, misunderstood, and I am certainly more attentive to my expression.
To be patient is to be in the moment. It is to let the experience come to you. It is to feel out the experience and to direct it slowly but assuredly. It is so powerful to be able to finish this written piece with absolutely stunning piano music playing and with the capacity to slowly do all of this simultaneously. Throughout my life, I have been unable to think clearly, to slow down my thoughts, and to feel the experience as it is happening. And with this desire to be patient, I am more able to be.
Lutheran Social Services of Northern California