Why Kindness Is A Muscle (And Love Is A Choice)

now there are many reasons for a person to resist the above suggestion.

for one, gritty words like ‘trying’ and ‘discipline’ seem out of place in the romantic, almost magical realm of love. “love should be easy“, songs over the radio yell out. “i was awestruck/wonderstruck/enchanted to meet you“, Taylor Swift sings (a new variation for each new guy). love should be a natural, compelling sort of force, not something that you have to painstakingly work at, slave at, sweat over.

also, it is far easier to say “it didn’t work out”, thereby placing failure squarely on an “it”, instead of “i didn’t do _____ well enough”. and i don’t mean going “it’s not you, it’s me” or even giving a quick nod to your own failings as you explain a relationship’s demise.

i’m not saying that people should start shouldering the whole blame either, or that ‘innate & intrinsic incompatibilities’ don’t exist. they do!

what i’m saying is that every relationship, at some point (and many other points after), hits the stage where you don’t ‘feel like’ doing something – you don’t feel up to listening to him/her speak about some topic that you couldn’t care less about, you don’t feel like going out, or staying in, and it’s basically the lull where the Hollywood magic fades and you’re back to your single, i-live-for-me-no-one-tells-me-what-to-do self.

or maybe you’ve tolerated something about your someone for ages, and now that the sparkle and shine have dimmed it grates on you like a rusty mandoline slicer.

and the tricky bit is that that’s not where you get to choose to change things. if you’re serious about kindness (and love), then it begins way before you’re near rock bottom and reaching your breaking point.

it begins near the start, where you choose to be interested and also frank and open, which means that if you really have absolutely no interest in what the person is saying you’ll let them know (and if this happens all the time then maybe possibly you might want to rethink things..), but if not you’ll give them your fullest attention all 100% of it and not give even an (insta)gram of your attention away to other stuff, or to day dreaming, because deciding that what the person says/thinks/feels matters is what builds respect, and more importantly, it lets you get a real feel of who the person is. if you’re just tuning in when you’re interested and tuning out most other times, then one day you’re going to get a rude shock when you realise that instead of just choice bits, you’ve got a whole person and now what do you do with this strange person that you never really knew??

it begins by being honest with the person and yourself and also generous, which means that you discuss and talk over things that irk you when they irk you (or as soon as is appropriate), and always with kindness and respect and being generous as to their intentions. because if you don’t talk over the irksome stuff when it’s bearable, then you’re only going to talk when things are about to blow, and as Proverbs 15:1 says, it is a gentle answer [that] turns away wrath. it’s only fair to the person and yourself that you address ‘problem areas’ head-on and early on.

and all this stuff is hard work, because almost no one goes into a relationship all ready to be self-sacrificial and endlessly kind and being all ready to give as many hoots about another person’s life as they do their own. but that’s part of the reason why i love the Bible’s conception of marriage i guess, because in Mark it talks about a man and his wife becoming ‘one flesh’, and that’s precisely it – that you might go in single, but you get to choose if you continue to

  • A: act like someone single who is just going to be besotted for a bit but ultimately lapses back into the (justified & warranted) selfishness of single-hood, or
  • B: if you actually try to live life together with this new person, integrating them, supporting them, basically gearing yourself up to spend a forever with your whoever.

and more often than not, i believe that what you work towards is what you get*.

*assuming that the other person has read this post, of course, because mutuality :p as i told a friend of mine, if people are jugs, and you’re pouring all the time, you’re gonna run dry, because no one can be selflessly giving and not burn out

UNLESS both parties are pouring and giving selflessly. that’s when the magic happens :—)

***this is not to say that if you follow the above and more, your relationship will 100% succeed. they aren’t a fix-all. many relationships crash & burn. if you want to know more about that, buy my e-book 😀

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