A Pandemic of Kindness

If you are community involved, or caring for others, the chances are that you have already hit some points of exhaustion in the last few weeks.

Many of us have been on steep learning curves. We have tested our flexibility, stretching our energy and our relationships. It’s likely we’ve been surprised by what we can achieve when we put our mind to it- and also at times, how little can progress with a lot of effort.

The frustrations from this over-extension can be manifold. Patient people may be finding themselves losing patience with themselves and others. Many of us experience sleeplessness, tension in our bodies, or we may be reaching for props; heading for the drinks cabinet more readily than we would ordinarily, for example. The reality is that if we’re not actively taking care of our stress it will find an outlet – often directed at those who are close to us. If this is your experience, the accompanying feeling of believing we should be coping more effectively can be a burden in itself. So what to do?

Let’s take a look at Jesus’ instruction to love our neighbour as ourselves. At times like this, many of us are looking out for our neighbour more than ever- the one who may be isolated, the one who may have a huge burden to carry at this time. When we read that verse many of us will be focused firstly on the instruction to love our neighbour. Yet what if we take seriously the equal instruction to love ourselves? I wonder, how might that be a gift to us in a time when we are feeling the pressure such as this?

Intrinsically Lovable

Without doubt, loving ourselves starts with the recognition that we are intrinsically lovable. Our uniqueness is an expression of God’s creative love for each one of us. Many of us will grapple with this truth throughout our lives- yet beneath it there is an invitation to be enjoyed by God, so in turn we can enjoy Him. Yet how does this work out in our lives? When we think of the Fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5, there is a rich offer available to us, supporting us to love ourselves. Here are some prompts:

  • Are we as patient with ourselves as others?
  • Do we offer ourselves peace?
  • Do we allow ourselves joy?
  • Do we allow ourselves kindness?
  • Do we exercise self-control over our inner critic?

Here’s a brief video clip on the subject of self- compassion- a great starting point to help us on a path towards greater kindness.

[thrive_link color=’blue’ link=’ https://blog.franciscanmedia.org/franciscan-spirit/the-importance-of-self-care’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Watch the video here[/thrive_link]

Taking Action

We will also benefit from looking at practical ways to lower our stress level. Some questions to consider:

  • Are we spending enough contact time with the people who are the radiators in life? How are we planning for this?
  • How are we responding to stress in our bodies?
  • Do we have a physical practice which is predictable, reliable and non-negotiable? Does being in nature, dancing, exercise, pilates, meditation/ contemplation feature?
  • Do our spiritual practices give us life? Does this need to change, if not?

It is Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year’s theme is kindness. As you explore how this particular fruit of the spirit is offered to you, how might you be kind to yourself, as you seek to be kind to your neighbour?

God is in our midst, even in lockdown, drawing us to Him. Are we listening?

We are delighted to partner with Kintsugi Hope and Mind & Soul on the following film, encouraging us all to become aware and responsive to increased pressures on mental health in our communities.

[thrive_link color=’orange’ link=’https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kZZ7k4qTK5k’ target=’_blank’ size=’medium’ align=’aligncenter’]Watch here[/thrive_link]