Saturday, September 03, 2022

Musings: The Impulse to Kindness




"What I regret most in my life
are failures of kindness."
GEORGE SAUNDERS
2013 Commencement Address, Syracuse University


The musing for this post began some weeks ago. I think it started with the above line I saw on Twitter, and it went from there. You know how it is, you notice one thing and then you suddenly see more of the same.

I would have say, upon reflection, that I feel the same as Mr. Saunders. Of all the regrets I have had in my life, this is one I truly regret the most. Days later I came across a post on Facebook of a fellow sharing his recent experience. As I recall he mentioned walking on a busy Canadian city street, minding his own business, when he noticed an elderly black woman trying to get somebody's help with directions. People hurried past, ignoring her. But my FB friend stopped and pointed her in the right direction. He carried on to wherever he was headed but a moment later he felt a real regret—why hadn't he offered to take her there himself? She was elderly and unsure where to go. 

Oh my... I felt the pang of that, having experienced similar regrets for not having followed the impulse. Either because I didn't think of it soon enough, or I wanted to just get on with my own stuff. There are moments that linger even years later, and I still wish I'd had the fortitude to follow my heart instead of being stuck in that niggardly position. The fear, the fear, the fear... in all its shapes and sizes and reasons. I don't think well on my feet. When spontaneous things come out of the blue, I don't always know how to respond or I think of it too late. So I often miss those mercurial moments to respond generously without self consciousness, selfishness, or awkwardness. Over the years, I have worked on myself to be more prepared in situations - I try to keep cash in spare pockets for people on the streets. But it's not always money that's needed. Perhaps that's why this little story really resonated with me. These days it's easy to forget to reach out, especially after we've had two years being in pandemic mode where we isolated and kept our social distance.

I flex my kindness muscles as we merge back into society. And I yearn to be disentangled from the fear: the fear of what my friend will think if I say I have to stop; the fear of suddenly adapting my plans especially when it affects others who're waiting for me; the fear of not wanting to get too involved in the life of a complete stranger. All of it pushes me out of my comfort zone. I'm reminded of the line in the New Testament about perfect love casting out all fear. Yes, I long for that freedom. When Divine Love so fills my heart that kindness is the first impulse, not fear.

One morning some lines—I'd hardly call them a poem—bubbled up from my heart as I thought about it all. Although in its raw mostly unedited state, I hope you don't mind that I've shared them here today.


Groaning for Love
   to beat in my heart
   to love others without restraint
reaching out when I see the need
before the impulse strangles and dies
in the net of my soul's hesitancy

Should I? Should I?

Because fear throbs the moment dries up
I'm left holding an empty thought—unfulfilled
groaning for Love to reach out without fear
Perfect love casts out all fear
O LORD, let me carry Love like that
'the impulse to kindness'




On that note, I'm wishing you grace and kindness
on this beautiful September Labour Day weekend.

With love,
Brenda


Top Image by Annette Meyer from Pixabay

The line 'the impulse to kindness'
comes from Donna Leon's new Brunetti mystery Give Unto Others.




22 comments:

  1. Oh yes, I'd call that a poem. The gripping phrase ..."before the impulse strangles and dies in the net of my soul's hesitancy." Oh my yes, that caught me. I live with someone who never hesitates in those situations, and I've learned so much from him, because my hesitancy is much like yours, even the part where you say you think of it later. Yes, moving forward I too pray for that Love that casts out all fear.

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    1. Admit it's my favourite line in that piece. Perhaps it's introverts who tend to hesitate? Here is to moving forward in new freedom. Thanks, Joy!

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  2. God hears your prayer! I wouldn't be surprised if you have some new stories to tell us soon, of how He gave you surprising opportunities. <3

    Gretchen Joanna

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    1. That is something to anticipate, Gretchen. I'm keeping my eyes open! Thank you!

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  3. Amazing words and hit home for me. I think I need to pray for eyes to see those opportunities as God's nudges for me to act. Too often I think later, "Why didn't I . . .?" and have regrets. Blessings . . .

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    1. Perhaps you've read Jan Karon's Mitford books? I recall how Father Tim would arrive at his office every morning and offer the prayer, 'Father, make me a blessing to someone today'. Oh yes, me too. Maybe such a prayer would help those of us who are more reticent to be more watchful for opportunities. Thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your thoughts.

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  4. Love the photo at the top Brenda! Such a “Fall” photo!
    Like Joy expressed, love the phrase about acting on an impulse and offering kindness before it dies in a moment of hesitancy. I also find, however, that there are times to be cautious . Hopefully God will guide us in those moments of consideration. ~ Ann

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    1. Thanks so much, Ann, for your thoughts. I'm so glad you enjoyed that 'fall' photo of the hydrangeas. When I spotted that pic by Annette Miller on Pixabay.com, I was smitten.

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  5. You say it so beautifully Brenda. I feel regrets for so many moments when I could have, should have, acted.

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  6. Goodness I wish my first reaction was always kindness...not just common kindness but the extra mile kind. But I'm selfish like most people. I have noticed though, that when I keep my focus off of myself & on Christ, the Holy Spirit will remind me to be kind. I do pray & ask Him to react in my mind before I do...& He does! If I'm not thinking of myself. :) There is something so beautiful in knowing my selfish heart can open up & allow God to show kindness. I love the story & now I want an elderly lady to ask me for directions!

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  7. Alas, I have similar regrets. Why didn't I? That's the thought that rolls around in my head all too often. Thank you for addressing a topic seldom considered.

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  8. Dear Brenda, such a beautiful post and yes, my friend, you have written a lovely poem. From your heart!

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  9. Thank you for this beautiful and thought-provoking post. I've also regretted ignoring opportunities for kindness because it would have been inconvenience. I need to do better!

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  10. I gave this a lot of thought after I read it. I do have regrets and can get moody thinking about them. But I try my best not to dwell on my regrets. I pray every day that I will be the best I can be and most of the time I feel good about my decisions. Thanks for sharing this with us.

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    1. Yes, praying to be the best we can be that day. Good thought, Diane.

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  11. Like you, I have regrets about not acting on my impulses to help someone. And also like you, I don't think well on my feet. One thing I have learned is that when I regret not acting, I take a moment to pray for that person and their needs. The poem is a lovely heart cry to God. Thank you.

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    1. Thanks, Lorrie. So often I do the same as you - pray for the person whose need I didn't meet in that moment.

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  12. Oh Brenda, how very much I relate to this post! I am not a quick thinker and I, too, have let golden opportunities slip by too many times. I join you in your resolve not to let fear stand in the way of reaching out with kindness!

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  13. Oh boy. Here again, I can relate 100%. Very well said.

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  14. Brenda - it is as if you wrote this particular post to me - I have been considering kindness and how many missed opportunities I have lost because I didn't respond as needed. Your poem is beautiful and speaks to my heart friend. Like Father Tim I need to pray daily to be a blessing to others. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Hugs!

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To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xox

PS. I do not always comment here, but I do look forward to coming and visiting you....