Everybody loves kindness. Everybody loves love.
But is anyone wholly kind? Is anyone wholly loving?
A deficit I see (and experience myself, seeing that I am an imperfect human) very prominently in our world, as I know it, is of a gaping lack of authentic, non-transactional kindness and love.
I’d like to preface this by once again highlighting that I do not consider myself outside of this deficit. My love and kindness are impoverished, surely not what love and kindness could truly be. I feel that I can speak on this because I am part of it.
Do we fight for social justice? Do we advocate for human rights? Do we believe in universal human dignity and the protection of it?
Do we also treat each human being we encounter with the same ferocious, passionate care we claim for humanity?
Do we insult people behind their backs? Do we fail to be intentional and genuine with everyone? Do we fail to make certain people feel cared for by our disengaged, disenchanted demeanor?
The answer, by the way, is yes. If you’re human, yes. Our love and kindness are not what they proclaim to be. My love and kindness are not what they proclaim to be.
I can admit this without shame because I know my worth. I know that my flaws and weaknesses have no effect on my value as a human being. And yet, I also know it’s important to admit these truths, and to acknowledge what they mean.
There is no such thing as loving “enough.” There is no such thing as being kind “enough.” The world is shattered. We are a broken, imperfect people. There will never be a day where we will be able to claim that we were perfectly kind, or that we loved perfectly.
What shall we say then? Shall we go on hopelessly, or apathetically, since imperfection is inevitable? By no means!
Acknowledging that our love and kindness needs growth creates room for that growth. It’s not self-deprecating to accept imperfection. Imperfection is a fact— but it shouldn’t lead to shame. Shame is a lie. Shame would claim that we need to be perfect to be priceless. Shame is dehumanizing and devaluing. We were not created to feel shame.
But we were indeed created to grow.
Love needs us to be open to growing in it. Love needs space to expand into. Love requires true intentionality. Love requires genuine relationship.
Love requires our acknowledgment that we can work on it.
How are we going to go about doing that? I might try setting my pride aside, so that I never treat anyone in my heart as if they’re a means to an end, or consider someone unworthy of my care. I might try to look people in the eye a little more. I might try being less quick to jump to annoyance or frustration. I might attempt to put away a bit of my judgment.
I might hold my tongue if my thoughts are about to release something dark and negative into the Universe. I might say sorry when I hurt someone, even if I think I’m right, because their perspective matters. I might listen to others’ thoughts and feelings, even if they differ from my own experience. I might have more intentional conversations.
I might be honest, even when it hurts. I might take a deep breath and work through an argument thoughtfully, instead of remaining closed minded. I might take a little more time to make sure others feel cared for.
I might allow room for myself to grow in love, something humanity can never get enough of.
How are you going to grow in your love?