Killing Our Fear With Kindness

I’d refused to see the movie “Wonder.” Medical dramas make me cry. And this story, about a little boy with a severe facial deformity—struggling to fit in at his new school—looked to be a full blown tearjerker. It is, indeed. (Bring tissues.) That’s because “Wonder”—based on the best-selling children’s novel by author R.J. Palacio—is about kindness.

Yep, a blockbuster about kindness.

Which sounds so simple.

But simple is why moviegoers worldwide are loving this little story. Little stories teach us mighty big things.

With “Wonder,” the lesson boils down to this: be kind. Why? Kindness makes life easier. And nicer. And more civil and gracious—and even more fun.

All true, indeed. But why does kindness matter so much now? Beyond the obvious reasons—especially our nasty, political, not-so-kind times?

Humbly, I offer three reasons. (Promise, no movie spoilers.)

First, kindness heals. That’s true for all of us. For an outsider such as little Auggie Pullman in “Wonder,” kindness proves a healing balm for all he’s forced to endure—bullying, shaming, ridicule, rejection and downright hate.

For people who know such pain, the film cuts close to the bone. Hate hurts. And yet? Kindness is divine. In this story, as Auggie’s fifth-grade schoolmates learn to show kindness, they change–but he does, too.

As theologian Blaise Pascal said, kind words “produce their own image on men’s souls; and a beautiful image it is.” In a world where kindness, especially politically, has become rare, kindness lifts us about the toxins. We reconnect with our better selves, flying aright again and soaring high.

So second, kindness is godly. Here’s Jeremiah 9:24: “This is what the Lord says…I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight” (NIV).

When we choose kindness, we delight God. We also gain respect, says Proverbs 11:16. Consider also this biblical wisdom: “Those who are kind benefit themselves.” (Proverbs 11:17, NIV).

In the movie, Auggie’s most faithful school friends benefit in heart, mind and soul. But his worst hater? That child becomes the biggest loser of all–along with his fearful family.

In contrast, kindness blesses families through good character, wisdom and also even fun. I laughed as much as cried during this movie, grateful to do both.

Thus, thirdly, in “Wonder,” as Auggie and his family walk in kindness, they triumph over a hornet’s nest of family troubles—sibling rivalry, parental favoritism, generational tension, but mostly their individual fears.

Which brings us finally to the Bible. One of the Holy Book’s best family stories—the story of Ruth—is at its core a priceless lesson about the courage of kindness. You know the story:

When Ruth’s husband dies and her aging mother-in-law Naomi is left alone, Ruth chooses to stay with Naomi—traveling with her to a strange country—a kindness that gets people talking. As Boaz tells Ruth: “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband…May the Lord repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel” (Ruth 2:11-12, NIV).

In the end, of course, Boaz takes Ruth to be his wife and they have a son—Obed, the father of Jesse, who became the father of David—in a lineage that led to Joseph, the husband of Mary, “of whom was born Jesus, who is called the Messiah” (Matthew 1:16, NIV).

A small matter being kind? In families? In friendships? To fight fear? As both the Ruth story and the “Wonder” movie show, kindness matters most of all for this. For eternity.

Patricia Raybon is an award-winning author of books and essays on mountain-moving faith.

To travel along on Patricia’s faith Journey, please click here.

Any Scriptures quoted, unless noted otherwise, are the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible.

(For more inspiration, check out Patricia’s five-star rated One Year® devotional, God’s Great Blessings.)

 

25 thoughts on “Killing Our Fear With Kindness

  1. I am looking forward to seeing the movie even more now. Thanks so much for sharing without giving away the whole story !! Being kind is one of the gifts from our Lord, I pray I can walk in it today !

    1. Wonderful, Delaine! Blessings on your generous gift. I just heard from a nice man in Melbourne, Australia, who shared this bumper sticker he saw on a car: “Humankind. Be both!” May God help us on this journey. Blessings on you, indeed!

    2. Dear Delaine — I just noticed I misspelled your beautiful name in my first reply. Just corrected it! Thanks again for your thoughtful comment. And your lovely life! Blessings on your leadership and service! Kindly, Patricia

  2. I just read your piece on bitterness in The Daily Bread. I am so sorry for what you experienced as a child. My daughter is a teacher and that part of your story broke my heart. But out of incredible pain came a beautiful diamond. Thank you for sharing your story and living out the gift of forgiveness for all to see.

    1. Sincere thanks, Cindy, for these kind words. God is The Healer and he mercifully delivers. I’m so grateful for Him. (My daughter is a teacher, too, and a truly great one, as I see it. So things come around for the better!) Warmest thanks for reaching out today. Your kindness blessed me!

  3. It’s 2:30 am Dec 1 and I can’t sleep… with a pain deep inside that must surface and be dealt with. I pulled out ‘Our daily bread’ and finished reading your article on bitterness, then your blog on kindness. Thank you for your God given words.

    1. Blessings, dear Diane. I realized I didn’t reply to your comment earlier. So I’m circling back this evening, first, to thank you for writing to me. Your kind feedback is a great blessing. I’m grateful to God that He led you to my article on turning from bitterness to forgiveness, and then led you to this blog post on kindness. I see the Lord’s hand in every step! May He use my humble words to inspire your healing and victory. He is our Deliverer! May he bless your healing journey, step by step and day by day! Peace and warmest regards, Patricia

  4. Your piece in the Daily Bread broke up some dry ground in my heart today. It was right on time as I am currently dealing with the process of forgiveness. As I started to read the first lines “I didn’t mean to grow up bitter. I was a good girl as a child…But some people treated me without love because of my skin color,” I had to turn the page to see who in the world had an experience that mirrored mine so deeply. As, I continued to read the tears started to flow and created a flood with each tear reminding me of deep hurts beyond those attached rejection that I have experienced because of my skin color. I realized that there were roots of bitterness that were still holding – roots from various hurts, disappointments, and even the loss of dear loved ones. I certainly didn’t expect to have such a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit when I picked up my Daily Bread this morning. I read it every day and always have provocative moments, but this morning, it was something extremely deeper – your words touched my core! I am still amazed at how the Lord can do that! Thank you.

    1. Blessings, Gina. Your kind feedback means so much. I can in your words the deep hurt that you experienced. I pray that the Lord will heal your memories and heartache over such undeserving pain. He is The Healer, and I’m grateful and amazed how He used a few humble words to speak to your heart. He is Mighty and Good! Blessings as your walk your forgiveness journey. Pray for your enemies, give Him your hurt and let it go. On the other side is real joy! Thanks so much for reaching out to connect. Peace and blessings, Patricia

  5. I just read your piece in the Daily Bread after praying (part of my devotional time). Your story touched my heart (the sign of a great author) & reminded me of a precious friend. I had to see a picture of you, so I Googled u & read about the movie starring my favorite actress, Julia Roberts. I will go to see this movie. It will be my first in a while. I just overcame cancer & everyone’s struggle touches my heart ❤️.
    Thank you for the share of something so painful!
    Hazel in Arkansas

    1. Thank you so much, Hazel. I’m grateful we were connected on Our Daily Bread. God is great. May He bless you well! (Enjoy the movie!)

  6. I returned to work and realized my Daily Bread was complete for November, and my yearning for more brought me to your words of deliverance, for my forgiveness was unfulfilled. Peace be with you Patricia. The Holy Spirit is within.

  7. I was just Today introduced to your writing; via The Daily Bread and your poignant sharing of your sad dealings of the Sin of Prejudice. . . I reflected back to my 5th Grade Class in Central East Illinois. It was as I recall about half Black, and half White. I had never been in proximity to Black Children my age prior to that. I do not recall any “ugly” incidents directed at my Black Classmates. But, then me being White and unaware of their day to day life other than School interaction; I no doubt missed seeing their unfortunate Experiences of Racism. I am Thankful that I was taught by my Parents to be Respectful of all People: regardless! . . . Blessings to You and Your Family. Thank You for Your Writings and sharing. – Since we both live in Colorado, I trust we formally meet some day. Perhaps through a function at The Denver Seminary. (:-)

  8. I READ FROM BITTER ROOT TO FLOWER OF FORGIVENESS ON 11/30/2017 I ENJOY READING OUR DAILY BREAD AND IT HELPS ME THROUGH OUT MY DAY THANK YOU FOR SHARING THE THREE STEPS TO THE FORGIVENESS PROCESS CONTINUE TO GROW CLOSE TO GOD AND HE WILL GROW CLOSE TO YOU
    BE BLESSED.

  9. Dear Patricia,
    I was introduced to you via The Daily Bread & was touched by your article ” From Bitter Root to Flower of Forgiveness.” I grew up in Sea Bright, NJ ( a beach resort town) and I was the only little “colored” girl in my class. It was great until 5th grade when the ugly face of prejudice was introduced to me. A new girl had enter the school and she had a birthday party and invited all the girls except me I was devastated. I had a birthday party and my mother said I didn’t have to invite her to mine. My mother died and my father remarried the next year and we moved to another town so I went to a different feeder high school The girl who didn’t invite me to her party moved too so we ended up at the same HS. She was ostracized our last year of elementary school because she had a ” conflict” with one of the popular girls in the class. Her father thanked my father for me being her friend and not feeding into the the other kids’ mentality.

    1. Blessings, Edwina. My goodness, what an amazing testimony you have. Thanks for sharing with me. Your father sounds so wise in helping you overcome prejudice, especially at a young age. Kindness is always the better choice. Thanks for sharing your beautiful example and, also, for connecting with me today. I sincerely appreciate your time. Peace and blessings, Patricia

  10. Really enjoyed your “From Bitter Root to Flower of Forgiveness” story in “Our Daily Bread”. You are quite a lady and deserve God’s praise. May God Bless You.

    1. Thanks so much, Nick. Your kind words are sincerely appreciated. Thanks for encouraging and connecting today. Many blessings and kindest regards, Patricia

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