Love is Kind.  But Are You? (Love Is… Series) - with Anne Visser

 

I was reading an article last year about when a mutual friend set up Prince Harry and Megan Markle on a blind date.   Megan says she had only question in mind: "Is he kind?" Love is kind, so let's talk about kindness. We’ve seen the t-shirts, we’ve used the hashtags, but how important is kindness to a relationship? Or to a marriage for that matter? To be honest, ya’ll, I wouldn’t rate kindness as one of my top attributes.   I mean, I’m not mean, but it’s just that there are so many other qualities that rank more important to me than kindness.  Like responsible.  Dependable.   Faithful.  Heck, even a sense of humor.   But the more I think about it, I realize being in a relationship with someone who isn’t kind is kinda rough. 

 

What do you think about when you think of the word kindness? For some reason, Barney comes to my mind.   He’s always smiling.   He never seems to have a bad day.   He’s forever optimistic.   And Barney loves everyone. Kindness is usually synonymous with gentleness.   Therefore, many men don’t readily identify with this word.   Can you be tough and kind? Can you have swag and be kind? Cool and kind? Or do you need to act like Barney? I think kindness is more about a heart expression than a facial expression.   Kindness is more than just being nice.  It’s compassionate, selfless, and its very definition is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.   Kindness is putting others first.   And you can do all of that without smiling. 

 

In Ephesians 4:32, Paul instructs Christians to be kind to one another.   Tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God, for Christ’s sake, forgives us.   Elsewhere, in Galatians, we see that kindness is a fruit of the Spirit…basically it’s one of the evidences of God’s spirit in you… or not. We all know about those mean ol’ church ladies, right? 

 

Random Acts of Kindness

I’ve been the recipient of random acts of kindness more times than I can count.   Several years ago, after a long and stressful day of non-stop sports, I pulled my weary self into the Chick-fil-A drive through.   I knew it would be the cashier's pleasure to serve me, or at least that's what they always say, I mean kindness is literally written all over their employee handbook.   But what I didn't expect is the person in front of me to pay for my whole ticket.   Do ya'll know how expensive Chick-Fil-A is for a family of six? You might at well go sit down somewhere at a restaurant.  

 

Another time at Starbucks after ordering an especially sugary drink and battling shame as I inched my way through the drive-through.   Again, someone, a complete stranger, paid for my drink.   FYI: I haven’t battled shame in the Starbucks line ever since. Kindness literally destroys shame.   Ooohhh... 

 

Hesed: the Biblical Definition of Kindness

Kindness is a theme all throughout Scripture.   God extends us kindness through giving us grace and mercy.   Jesus modeled kindness by caring for the poor, lifting up women in a hyper-mysoginistic culture.   From the patriarch, Abraham, who showed hospitality to strangers (who just happened to be angels), to the prostitute, Rahab who hid the Israelite warriors from her own people who were trying to kill them, and the prophet Hosea, who married a wayward prostitute and kept pursuing her while she was pursuing other men, all of these people extended kindness without expecting anything in return.   But ya’ll know what, when you do something kind without expecting anything in return, God has a way of returning it back to you. 

 

There’s this really beautiful Hebrew word Hesed that shows up in the Bible.   Hesed means loyal love, faithful devotion and unfailing kindness.   Sounds just like God to me.   But did you know we are called to show hesed in our marriages and relationships? Loyalty, faithful devotion, unfailing kindness.   These are all action-oriented nouns. Hesed is kindness rooted in love. So we know kindness is good for us spirit, but can talk about science for a bit? 

 

How Kindness Affects our Physical Bodies

Did you know that according to Mayo Clinic Health, being kind boosts serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters in the brain that give you feelings of satisfaction and well-being, and cause the pleasure/reward centers in your brain to light up? Endorphins, which are your body's natural pain killer, also can be released just be practicing kindness.   So hesed is good for your physical health too!  Being kind just feels good.   

 

How to be Kind in Marriage & Relationships

I think one of the most obvious ways we can show hesed is in how we communicate, specifically how we talk to those we’re in relationship with.   When I was a kid, my sister and I would mock my mom’s telephone voice, you know you made fun of your mom too.   You know the voice I’m talking about? That super nice, cheerful, proper voice (hello) my mom would answer the phone after she just got finished yelling at my sister and me for not cleaning our rooms. Well, much to my dismay, my own kids joke my podcast voice! Ya’ll, I don’t have a podcast voice. Really what they’re saying is my tone with them is lacking the same sweetness I obviously have with my listeners. 

 

But let’s talk about marriage for a bit.   This is a marriage podcast after all.   We all have a tendency to take our spouses for granted.   Think of the last conversation you had with your spouse.   If you were to be rated on a scale from 1-10 on how kind that conversation was, how would you score? Think about when you were dating vs your conversations now.   Remember how you’d be so excited to talk to each other on the phone or you’d get that tingling feeling deep in your stomach when you saw your future mate had emailed, texted, or reached out to you on social.   

 

Now, that you’re married, how often do you think of kindness in your conversations? No judgment here, you guys.   I, too, am guilty as charged.   And that’s why our guest today is here.   She is going to help us learn to communicate more kindly. I invited Anne Visser, who is a life coach, and also a certified John Maxwell coach, speaker & trainer.   With her husband, Melis, of 42 years, they co-founded 4 Better 4 Ever, which seeks to help Christian women learn to communicate clearly and confidently. Anne is going to chime in on this conversation we're already having on Kind communication.  

 

Kind Communication in Marriage & Relationships

Communication is key in relationships. Anne shares how couples can improve their communication, and in turn, improve their relationships. Through healthy communication, we can all learn to give a little more love to the people around us, while building thriving relationships. Anne shares meaningful ways that we can open ourselves up to love through vulnerability, kindness, and patience.

Being vulnerable is never easy, but it is worth it. When we take the chance to get vulnerable with our partners, it allows us to enter a space where we can speak freely from our heart, in a safe space. Anne said of kind communication, “It was a shift in Melis’s and my mindset and a shift in the way we communicated.” When Anne and her husband created vulnerability in their marriage, they regained hope in their marriage. Through deep, heart-opening conversations, Anne and her husband were able to overcome strife and regain the love they desired.

Conflict will arise in relationships at some point and understanding and communicating your needs is crucial for creating resolution. Anne said, “Conflict is the doorway to intimacy. Into me you see.” When conflict is revealed, it allows you to understand and grow closer by working as a team to overcome the problem. When conflict is fixed with vulnerability, it allows both partners to be heard and seen through the eyes of love.

 

God is Kind and So Can You Be

When we are at the end of our rope it’s important that we can always return to kindness. God is such a pure example of what love and kindness looks like. Kindness shows up in our thoughts first, then it shows up in our words. Anne said, “Kindness to me is being honest with myself. Kindness is being kind to myself and recognizing my humanness and recognizing when I am depleted. Kindness starts with being kind with me.”

All kindness starts from within. That’s why when we practice patience and kindness with ourselves, it makes it easier to practice that with others people in our lives. When you have love in your heart for yourself and God, that love becomes contagious and spreads like wildfire. When we create kindness in our lives, it creates a positive experience for us and the kindness can radiate into other people’s lives. Kindness is contagious.

 

Creating Healthy Communication in Your Marriage

Sometimes in relationships, we have things that we want to say, but we don’t always express ourselves in the most efficient way. A lot of times, our emotions get the best of us and we become irrational and say things we didn’t mean. When we practice patiences and kindness, it allows us to shift the way we handle conflict. Anne gives her clients a tip to help with this. It’s called The Three C’s - Check Emotions, Communicate and Clarify, and Create Resolution. When we have something weighing us down it’s important to check in with our emotions. Slow down and check in on how you’re feeling.

When we are triggered, emotions will run high causing irrational responses. Once we are able to recognize that, we can slow down to communicate and clarify our needs. This will help with creating understanding and creating resolution with our partners. Often times, in relationships, we think we are going to war with our partner. When we shift our thinking, and realize that our partners are on the same team as us, it allows us to create more love and empathy. When you give your partner the same kindness, grace, and love that you want to receive, it creates healthier communication in the partnership.

 

 

Links Mentioned in this Episode

Learn more about Anne's Work Here. 

Anne’s 7-Day Communication Challenge

Get Your Copy of My New Workbook: Love Is . . .

 

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