This is an ongoing “Fruit of the Spirit” series featuring my past perspectives from December 2019 along with my present-day reflections in 2020. Check out my series intro, my first post about love, my second about joy, my third about peace, my fourth about patience, and my next post about kindness below.
Dean from December 2019
I’d like to think I’m a kind person. I hold doors open for people, offer compliments, encourage others, share, give, love, and more.
Honestly, kindness seems like an easy one for me.
But that assumes kindness is only an external action. If there’s one thing I can expect from this whole process with the fruit of the Spirit, it’s that none of these fruits come with solely external actions; there’s always an internal reflection.
Fruit on a tree is nourished by the roots. An internal factor affects the fruit. Kindness will be no different.
So, what is the internal aspect of kindness?
At this point, I’m honestly stumped. Before this moment, I don’t think I can say I’d considered the internal aspect of kindness.
Dear reader, you are literally watching this unfold as I write.
If kindness is seen through an action, then perhaps it is nourished by the motivation. Why show kindness? Is it for some benefit to one’s self? Then isn’t the act of kindness a selfish act?
If kindness must be completely altruistic, can anyone truly be kind? People are pretty selfish. And lots of people ultimately do kind things for some sort of selfish reason, it seems.
The “do good, feel good” vein of psychology actually encourages doing kind things as a form of self-help. Thus, someone isn’t doing something entirely for someone else – a person is ultimately serving himself as he serves another.
Can true kindness exist this side of heaven?
And what does my sexuality have to do with it? Can my sexuality and gender even have an impact on kindness? Or will this be the one fruit that lies completely outside the relevance of my queer identity?
I wonder what kindness in 2020 will look like . . .
Dean from August 2020
I started this month still unsure of kindness. What on earth would this mean?
Well, wouldn’t you know it, the month saw me start something brand new: trauma-focused therapy.
I’ve been through a lot of crap. Older posts have recounted what my brothers, dad, and prior churches have done to me. Being a father has introduced new traumas, such as seeing my daughter endure a severe accident.
Being a husband hasn’t always been easy, too.
So, trauma therapy? Probably a good idea.
My second session confirmed things as my therapist and I got right into the thick of two extremely significant events from my childhood.
Dissecting these events together, we got myself through so many self-esteem issues that I actually felt physically lighter. My back didn’t naturally slump over, my steps felt softer, and my entire approach to myself changed.
It’s been in the wake of this trauma therapy session that a new idea for kindness as a fruit of the Spirit has taken hold.
You see, last year I wondered if true kindness could even exist since it seems to require a completely altruistic motivation. But I think I was mistaken.
What if kindness as a fruit of the Spirit simply meant your unconscious approach to others — and even to yourself — was to help instead of judge?
What if kindness manifested itself in the simple idea that when you see someone in need or hurting or broken, you desire to care for them before you desire to know how it happened?
Considering my sexuality, what if kindness led me to extend grace to myself as I honor God in all I do rather than ask why I still battle lust?
I still believe kindness is most evident through actions — but that doesn’t mean it starts there. If kindness starts internally, then it must mean that, before I do anything, my heart is already positioned toward kindness.
And because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in me, this is actually possible unconsciously.
This would definitely make the second greatest commandment a little easier to uphold.
Do you struggle to offer kindness either to others or yourself? How does your sexuality intersect this particular fruit of the Spirit?