One of my favorite movies growing up was Cinderella. I loved singing with the mice and dancing around pretending that I was at a ball in my best ball gown. I watched all the Cinderella adaptations that I possibly could and eventually I went to see the live action version Disney produced in 2015. It was there I heard a line that really stood out to me:
“Have courage and be kind.”
It was the line that Ella’s mother said to her at the beginning of the movie reminding her to love the world around her. It was the line Ella repeated to herself: to keep loving it even when things were hard. For an 18-year-old, about to go off to college by herself and who had never truly grown out of her princess phase (I still haven’t), it was just the thing I needed to hear, because all I really felt was fear.
Having that focus on kindness served me well. I was able to find and make true friends. I was able to create a small community for my college television station. I was able to be a safe place for people who needed to vent. Eventually, I went off to California after graduation and that focus on kindness served me there as well.
I had only one issue. I was great at being kind to others, but I was not as good at receiving kindness in turn. I was always willing to lend a helping hand, to be there when others needed me, but I often refused to allow myself to receive the same from them.
This came to my attention during a Team Day at my workplace in CA. We had decided that for our Team Bonding Day we all wanted to drive down to Santa Cruz together and hang out at the beach. I offered to help with driving, wanting to make myself useful. But, my friend Alissa, who was a Santa Cruz native, insisted that, no, she would help with transportation and I could just relax.
I didn’t think too much of it (she knew the area better than I did and knew the highways) until she texted me the day before and asked if I was really okay with the situation. I assured her that really I was, I just didn’t like the idea of not being able to do anything to help. She told me that I didn’t always have to help others. Sometimes, I had to let my friends help me.
I always thought God had a sense of humor when it came to these kinds of things, because his lessons never seemed to come during the larger crises in my life. It was always during small things like this. Not to mention he likes to keep pushing the lessons more the longer I ignore them.
God has a wish for us to be kind, yes. He wants us to be kind to everyone we meet and the entire world around us, which is a wonderful thing. But he also wants us to allow that same kindness to come back to us as well, and allow us to accept that kindness.
It makes me think of “The Servant Song” and the end of the first verse, “Pray that I might have the grace/To let you be my servant, too.” God wants us to allow others to be kind to us, and probably even more importantly, that we be kind to ourselves as well.
Alissa ended up driving myself and our friends Tara and Tamiko that trip. She also came close to making me let her buy me a coke. I managed to talk her out of it, but she did follow me to the beverage station cash in hand. We had a great time that day and we spent the day being kind to each other, following everyone to the shops they wanted to go to and having turns. Not to mention it was a warm enough day in November, we could actually rest our feet in the water.
God does love us to have courage and be kind. But he loves even more so, for us to accept that kindness ourselves.