If I speak in tongues of human beings and of angels but I don’t have love, I’m a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and I know all the mysteries and everything else, and if I have such complete faith that I can move mountains but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. 3 If I give away everything that I have and hand over my own body to feel good about what I’ve done but I don’t have love, I receive no benefit whatsoever. 4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. As for prophecies, they will be brought to an end. As for tongues, they will stop. As for knowledge, it will be brought to an end. 9 We know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, what is partial will be brought to an end. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, reason like a child, think like a child. But now that I have become a man, I’ve put an end to childish things. 12 Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known. 13 Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 CEB
Love is kind.
My mother HATED for people to get into her personal space. Hated it. She was a private person. She didn’t pass out hugs and kisses with abandon. She was modest too. The indignities of dying the way she did would have killed her if she wasn’t already dying for other reasons.
That’s why, to me, it was a kindness to not hover over her while she lay in the hospital bed. I noticed my sister-in-law did as I did, crouching down so mom could see our faces without looming over her and leaning into her space. I think Debbie and I were kind in this regard.
But it was difficult, because I desperately wanted to crawl up into that bed and cuddle with her for as long as possible.
Kindness isn’t the same thing as being nice; it’s what we do when we respect other people and give them what they want and need, even if it is in contradiction to our own desires. (Of course, there are limits to this, right? We don’t do ANYTHING that contradicts our core values, breaks our own boundaries of self-respect, etc. Surely I can make this point without someone using it as an excuse to behave unwisely!)
Kindness is hard work – it requires paying attention to others and seeking their good, not our own (within healthy limits).