"Be kinder than is Necessary". Such a simple sentence. But when you really think about it, it is not always THAT simple, being kind or even kinder than necessary, is it?
Today I finished reading a book called "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. Let me explain to you how this book happened into my hands.
As you may remember, my career job (the one that pays the bills!) is as a middle school fitness teacher. Recently, one of our 7th grade ELA (Language Arts) teachers started an after-school book club and asked staff members if we would be interested in reading the same book as a way to connect and build relationships with our kiddos while also showing how cool reading always is. She chose this book "Wonder" because it is about a boy going into middle school who has a craniofacial abnormality, or for lack of better words, a deformed face. This book deals with bullying, about being different, the meaning of true friendships, the strength of character, and KINDNESS.
Mrs. Lowe handed me this book on Thursday afternoon. Today is Sunday. Thursday after school I started reading the book. It captivated me immediately. I had to put it down to go to a high school basketball game since I am the cheer coach and had to be there! Then I got word from my mom that my grandma was in the hospital. At first, they didn't think it was a big deal, they thought she might have a touch of the flu. At midnight, my mom called and said I should come to the hospital to be with my grandma because things weren't looking too good and the doctors had explained they would be making her comfortable, (the kind way doctors say "She is dying, say your good-byes now). My sister and I stayed at the hospital until around 4:30am and decided to go home for a bit to put in for a substitute, sleep a little while, then head back to the hospital. As it turns out, my mom called at 5:12am. My Grandma Evelyn Teeter, aged 93, passed away at 5:07.
After I had taken my boys to school (they both had emotions they were dealing with, as they, especially my oldest, had a close relationship with their great-grandma, but they both wanted to go to school), I came home with the intent to sleep for a while. I picked up "Wonder" and starting reading instead. I finally succumbed to napping and then my eyes popped open, knowing I had to get back to school to put on an assembly. An assembly that recognizes Students of the Month, based on words of character. Every month, to help kick off the next word, the ASB officers choose two staff members who exemplify the word. The word for February is HONESTY. Honesty, as defined by Webster's Dictionary is:
n.1.Honor; honorableness; dignity; propriety; suitableness; decency.She derives her honesty and achieves her goodness.- Shak.
2.The quality or state of being honest; probity; fairness and straightforwardness of conduct, speech, etc.; integrity; sincerity; truthfulness; freedom from fraud or guile.That we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
Mrs. Lowe was one of the two teachers the ASB teachers 100% agreed on being chosen.
I was not home all day yesterday (Saturday) and today after church I could not stop thinking about this book. I couldn't stop thinking about love and kindness towards others (thanks to today's sermon and some of the songs we sang, plus my weepiness thinking about my grandma), so...
I came home, picked up the book, and didn't put it down until I finished it.
I have always considered myself to be kind to others. After reading this book, I think...no, I KNOW, I have not always been kinder than is necessary. "Because it is not enough to be kind. Once should be kinder than is needed. Why I love that line, that concept, is that it reminds me that we carry with us, as human beings, not just the capacity to be kind, but the very choice of kindness." (pg. 300) WE ALL HAVE A CHOICE!!! WE all have the choice to CHOOSE KINDNESS. Wow. So, yeah, there's that.
"If you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God." (pg. 301) Luke 6:35 (in a different book called the Bible!) says, "But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil." (ESV) This makes me also think of the story from Luke of the Good Samaritan: "Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him." (Luke 10:30-37, ESV) You see, in those days, a long, long, long time ago, people were just as they are today. We look the other way, we pretend we don't see. Then, there are those few, rare beautiful souls who show kindness, love, and compassion for others. I want to be one of those people. And like I said earlier, it's not always so simple or easy. I know, for me personally, I need to ask the Lord daily to help me have heart of kindness to others, to help me always choose what is right and good and kind.
The mom in the book says, "But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other." (pg. 279) That is who I am choosing to be, every day, to be One of the Good People.
I am beyond blessed that Mrs. Lowe is a teacher at Centralia Middle School. She really has so much to offer our students...and staff...and community. She is teaching others how to chose kindness. She is using the joy of reading to capture the hearts of others. She is using a beautiful story to connect so many of us to one another and to others' perspectives. She is really and truly one of the good ones. I am grateful she put this book in my hands. I am grateful she is putting this book into the hands of middle school students.
(She may be embarrassed I have written about her, and for that, I am sorry. But she deserves these kudos. She deserves a Henry Ward Beecher medal. And I also hope she forgives any grammatical errors, misspellings, or typos, if she happens to read this, as she is a Language Arts teacher and I, sadly, am not and I know sometimes it shows!!!)
I'd like to get this book in YOUR hands. If you are still reading, THANK-YOU! For that, I'd like to enter you to win a copy of this book that I will purchase and send to you as my way of Paying it Forward! Please subscribe to my website/blog and leave me a comment to be entered to win! I will choose TWO winners on Feb. 28th at 5pm (Pacific time) and notify by email immediately to get your shipping address!