Only Kindness Matters

For as long as I can remember, I have cared too much.  About everything.  I get bogged down in details and feelings and hypotheticals and I lose sleep and I emote excessively.  It's the reason I was awake all night a couple of weeks ago (and several times since then, in fact).  I followed a conversation started by a friend on social media that seemed to civilly and genuinely tackle one of the hot button topics of the times.  In my sincere desire to understand why people think so differently from each other, I read the comments.  And there were many.  As things tend to, especially online, tensions quickly escalated, people began making assumptions and blanket statements, and then the name calling ensued.  End productive conversation.

I find myself grieving the loss of civility in people I know and love and feeling crushed by the words and opinions of people I do not even know. 

One comment, a puny ten words or less, from a person whom I've never met kept me awake for a solid night because I wasn't able to separate real life from virtual "reality."  What I am unable to do is distinguish hastily typed (or even carefully selected) words in the midst of an online debate from a personal attack on my character or choices.  I guess I'm still that little girl seeking everyone's approval.  Even strangers.  On the INTERNET.  Lesson to learn:  People I don't know cannot speak for me or about me.  Even if it feels like it, no one is personally attacking me

I don't know anyone in day to day life, literally, not ONE SINGLE PERSON, who is advocating for divisiveness, hate, and vitriol.  Granted, my world is small, and I recognize that fully.  But, my dearest friends and family members from all sides of faith and politics are calling for peace and kindness.  This being the case, how is it that we're getting nowhere?  Is it that peace and kindness look different to each of us?

And what can I, Jennie with the tiny circle of influence, do about it?

Seriously, if you've got ideas, I'm all ears.  Text me.  Email.  Send me a postcard.  Pop in, you can help me fold towels.

I've unplugged from my major addiction for a spell.  It's been quiet, and embarrassingly enough, a little lonely.  I have relied on a manufactured virtual community to fill my need for actual friends for far too long.  I don't want to be the ostrich who buries her head in the sand and pretends everything is okay.  I know better than that.  But I cannot accept that people are online who they are in real life.  I cannot believe the hatred and animosity coming out of the mouths of friends are the same things they'd say to me in a face to face conversation. 

So, come on, let's talk.  Face to face.  Amidst the syrup drips still on the table from breakfast.  And the crumbs still on the floor from lunch.  I'll probably cry.  Because I'm embarrassed of the mess, but mostly because that's who I am.  Please, let's just all remember that the words we speak affect actual people.  As much as we feel opinions define our character, I believe that the way we present our opinions, regardless of what they are, matters just as much if not more.  In the end, only kindness matters.

My cry and prayer is a grieved one.  Forgive us, Jesus, because we're so far gone.  And yet, even still, knowing how awful we are, every one of us (and believe me, I'm the worst!), you deemed us worth pursuing and loving.  Thank you isn't enough.  Thank you.

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