Kindness is one of those sentiments that feels very warm and fuzzy in our brains. In action, it is more complex and beautiful. Think of a diamond: multifaceted, each surface reflecting and refracting dazzling rainbows of light, but a diamond is hard. A diamond can cut.
My husband and I have discussed how honored we’d feel if one of our friends called us for help in the middle of the night. The downside? We would have to get up in the middle of the night!
There is honor; there’s also discomfort.
I was called not long ago (not in the middle of the night thankfully!), but in the middle of a busy day. My friend asked if I could watch her child while she took her husband to the doctor. No big deal right? Well, no — not really. Except that if I’m honest, I would admit that throughout the course of my days I often feel like I’m barely holding my head above water. This sudden interruption wasn’t in my plan. It threw me off, but I said yes. I considered this instance to be my “middle of the night” call and I was honored.
This was a transaction of kindness. It was far deeper than her asking for help and me answering the call. It was an act of vulnerability and strength — and maybe temporary discomfort on both sides. She was brave enough to ask for help and admit that she had a need.
She needed me and I needed her.
I had to be vulnerable as well. I had to lay down my plans, create space and change. Interestingly, her request also made me braver. I suddenly realized that I too could ask for help.
From the mix of vulnerability and strength, bravery and neediness, a bond was created. A cord of kindness. It wasn’t just one person meeting another’s needs, it was more like a tapestry.
When thousands of these types of transactions take place over time within a community, it is weaving a rich and beautiful tapestry of kindness. A safety net, strong and secure. Nothing we could ever conceive of, much less accomplish, on our own.
These things don’t just happen among people who are confident in their “enough-ness.” These things happen among people who are willing to admit weakness. A diamond doesn’t just spring from the earth fully formed. The earth must be opened, the depths must be plumbed.
When we are not enough, the kindness of others can meet our lack with abundance — but first must come the uncomfortable part of admitting, asking for help and sharing the load. Simultaneously, the very admission that we are not enough can be an act of kindness in itself. It’s an invitation for each person in the community to let her walls down. It’s an encouragement to fill and be filled.
It’s a declaration: I’m with you. We need each other.
I am not enough, but WE are more than enough together.
Leslie lives with her husband and three children just outside the Texas Hill Country. She likes to read, write, exercise and sleep.