One of the "subjects" we all teach our children is "social interaction". Whether we make a conscious effort at it or not, our kids are constantly learning this from us. How do you treat other people? Is your philosophy one of "he wasn't nice to me so I won't be nice to him" or are you quick to look past others' actions and seek their intention and possible private struggles?
A few years ago, when Karli was still in public school, she came to me and shared how this person was not being very nice to the other kids. This made it very easy for the other kids to not be so nice to the offender. I shared a story with my daughter that I hope will impact her and stay with her for the rest of her life. When I was a little girl, there was someone several years older than me who would absolutely TORTURE me! Most of this torture was on the bus ride home. It was almost unbearable for my little 9 year old self to withstand. I carried that fear and pain with me for a very, very, very long time. But, I grew up. I got married. I got on with my life. One day, I ran into this girl. She came up to me (this was probably about 15 years after the "torture") and began crying and asking for my forgiveness for the way she treated me. She offered an explanation (not an excuse) for her behavior. She was being badly abused at home and I was her outlet. I explained to Karli that when others are unkind we should try to look past that specific action and consider that maybe there are circumstances in their lives that we are unaware of that are unbearable to them and their actions are simply a survival skill.
I am not saying that everyone who is unkind or unjust to you is in a secret crisis, but, you never know what happens behind closed doors. Our job as humans, Christians, children of God, is to love. We are not to attach conditions or stipulations to that love. We are to love freely without expectation and hesitation. Isn't that how God loves us? None of us deserve the love Jesus showed for us on the cross that lonely day when he went through excruciating pain, humiliation and eventually death. He was perfect. He died because you (and I) are not. Shouldn't we strive to be better than we are? We should not put conditions on who or how we love.
We also need to strive to not be the person who is unkind to others. When we are having a bad day it is more than easy to take it out on an innocent bystander. Usually someone you love very much. Using the same principal of not knowing where the "receiver" of your actions is in their personal life, you never know how your inconsideration of their feelings will impact them. What if they are struggling with self value and your action becomes a "validation" of sorts that their worth is less than what it really is?
It seems so simple. Be kind. But it is one of the hardest things we can do. I am guilty of reacting without thinking~ and then regretting it later. I allow myself to get angry (hurt) without considering the others' point of view. I take out my frustrations on innocent bystanders that I love very much. BUT- I want to do better. I want to be better. I want my kids to learn better! If you think about it, being bitter, unkind, and angry hurts you more than it does anyone else.
Father, I come to you today asking for Your forgiveness for all the times I have been unkind to others. I ask that you fill my heart with Your love and Your grace. Help me to look more at intention rather than action. Help me to be a good teacher to my children by example. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.