Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Root of Kindness

image courtesy of photobucket.com

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post called Patiently for the blog carnival. I’ll confess I already knew what I was going to write about, I just didn’t know how I would work the topic of “Patience” into it. In case you missed it, it was my first attempt at a short story. The post was about was domestic violence. The story was fictional, but statistically speaking, the scenario I described is all too real. Based upon the number of views that post received, I knew I couldn’t just leave it at one post. I needed to follow up.

So, here we are. The topic this week is “Kindness”. Again, I wondered how to work that theme into my post. Then, like an answer to prayer, this Sunday’s sermon was on that very topic. But more about that later…

Since I have never been the victim of domestic violence, I felt it would be disingenuous to attempt to write about it with any authority. I briefly corresponded via email with a survivor of domestic violence, which was the catalyst for this follow up post.

I also spoke with a friend yesterday. We’ll call her “Barbara”.*

Barbara’s story has a happy ending. After sixteen years of physical and emotional abuse, she finally broke free of the cycle and is now happily married to a great guy.

I wanted to know what the “last straw” was; what finally made her say “Enough”. Her answer was both predictable and chilling. She told me, “I just quit caring. I told him I didn’t give a shit if he beat me anymore. That’s when he started in on our oldest son.” She didn’t leave right away, but that was the beginning of the end to her nightmare. In the end, she did get away, and she is alive to tell about it.

Now, back to the topic at hand: Kindness. The following is an excerpt from Jeff’s sermon on Sunday:

1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us "Love is patient, love is kind"...


When we use the word “kind” today, we typically compare it with words like “nice” or “compassionate.” Those aren’t bad comparisons, but neither of those words goes far enough to get at the heart of what Paul is saying here.

The Greek word translated “kind” is χρηστεύομαι “chrēsteuomai, (pronounced khrā-styü'-o-mī).

It comes from the root word χρηστός “chrēstos” (pronounced khrā-sto's)

Chrestos means “fit for use,” or “useful.”

On the most basic level, kindness MEETS NEEDS.

Barbara was fortunate. She had family and friends who were willing to meet her needs. When she finally left, a friend opened her house to Barbara and her three children. It wasn’t convenient and it wasn’t easy. But a true act of kindness seldom is.

If you know someone who is a victim of abuse, I am speaking directly to you. Ultimately, the decision to leave – to choose life – is up to them. Just understand that their abusers have convinced them they are worthless and undeserving of a better life. It is your obligation to prove to them otherwise; to provide a safe haven and your unwavering support to them. It could literally be the difference between life and death.

Meet their needs.


"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in times of crisis preferred to remain neutral." ~ Dante


This post is part of this week's One Word Blog Carnival: Kindness, hosted by my friend Bridget Chumbley at One Word at a Time.

*A very special thanks to my friend and sister in Christ, "Barbara". I am so grateful to know you my friend. You are a beautiful example of kindness and grace in action.


Glynn said...

"He started in on her oldest son." the chills went right up my back. This is good, Kathy.

Jessica Benzakein said...

The last two paragraphs had me nearly shouting "Amen!"

Anonymous said...

It is amazing how as a victim of abuse we somehow lose sight of reality. Things that make no sense at all (like we believe we are fat when we are skinny, etc.) start taking over our brains and we stop thinking rationally.

Thank you for sharing this happy ending. The chills Glynn felt were with me as well.

Great post!

S. Etole said...

that quote by Dante is chilling ...

Jeffrey Holton said...

This is a very important post.

Rescuing people from harm is a human essential. It strikes at the core of who we are.

Maureen said...

I knew an artist who was murdered by her husband in front of their two young children in the early morning hours. Not a soul, including her mentor, knew she was living with an abuser, let alone a murderer. She never knew "kindness" as it's defined here was, though any one of us would have offered and given it had she given the slightest hint. I think of her every single time I read a post like this.

Cynthia Schuerr said...

If it isn't happening within our own four walls, we tend to close our eyes to it.

This is what we have to change. It needs to become our business to watch out for people who can't seem to help themselves.

Well put 'Dante'

Candy said...

I had a hard time reading this. I shudder to think these things actually happen, but am a realist enough to know they do.

Chrestos. I won't forget that.

Jason said...

Fantastic post.

♥ Kathy said...

Great post Kat. I have been the victim of domestic violence and sometimes it's easier to say get away then it is to do.

Helen said...

Years ago, a friend of our family was being abused by her husband. My parents offered her our spare room more than once, but she always refused. One day, he threw a glass at her, and because he was drunk, it missed her by about 2 feet, and me by about 2 inches. My parents offered one more time for her to come home with us. Again, she refused. My parents withdrew from their company for the most part after that.
BTW, he died years ago, and she is fine. Eventually her son became big enough to help her. But that had its costs for him....

Heart Kathy, I am so sorry you had to go through that, and so glad you got out.

Melissa Brotherton said...

I think the saddest part of this is that so often no one
knows it's going on until it's too late. Your post is eye opening. That quote from Dante...wow.

jasonS said...

Great thoughts tying in the domestic abuse and kindness... Thanks, Kat.

Janet Oberholtzer said...

Being a word person, I love finding out the definitions of words - so I liked seeing what kindness meant.

Also will have to ponder the quote from Dante - ouch, how often do I do that?

Chuck Allen said...

This was an enlightening post. It makes me wonder how many people I know may be going through this and I'm just missing the signs.

kirsten said...

I really dislike that when I read about domestic abuse my immediate thought is gratefulness that I am not living with that, and a desire to move away from the topic.

Thank you, Kat, for showing me my part in this: that by offering kindness, by *meeting a need* I am offering a way out.

Anonymous said...

As a victim of domestic violence, I can say there are signs however we ( the victims) have been programmed (literally brow beaten)by our abusers to not display them. Remember, we have been told and truly believe at this point it is our fault and we are not worth the air that we breathe. Therefore there are 'hidden' signs.
The obvious "hidden" signs:
1) long sleeve shirts and pants in warm weather. This hides bruises. Most abusers will not hit in face.
2) Excuses: I fell down again. I'm so stupid: I slammed my hand in the car door. I walked into a corner last night going to the bathroom. Most of us do in fact do this however this happens 'alot' in this case.
There are other signs such as
1) Statements: Oh, I dont want to get him/her mad. I dont want to upset him or her.
2) In group setting, the abuser will make a quick move in excitement or anger. This will cause the victim to cower like a dog who has been scolded. Head down, no eye contact, moving away from abuser while they are angry or excited.
3) If the 'couple" is out in a public bar or restaurant and the abuser has been drinking or becoming agitated, the victim will make excuses to 'stay a bit longer'. In our logic, a few more drinks in public is better than what is waiting at home.
4) Children: children will go to their rooms voluntarily if they hear the abuser 'coming home'. They cry alot. They dont want you to leave or go to work. They are more physical or aggressive to the abused parent or younger brothers and sisters. Their grades drop. They sleep alot or not at all. They have more nightmares.
These are just a few things. Most likely the victim will deny your concerns if you approach them however by saying that you are aware that something is not right and you will be there when they are ready to talk could break the 'wall of silence". We are afraid, ashamed, and not worthy of your time or concern. We believe this is our fault and it would not happen if we were just a better person. But first and foremost, once you are out of the relationship do NOT jump back into another relationship. You must take time to heal. I would highly suggest taking at least 1 year and not date or start a relationship. ( more if you have young children). Member, you must learn to eat, work, sleep and relax again without fear of your every move and this does take time. According to his family and friends, our marriage was perfect and when I left no one could believe I would do such a thing. The rumors started by my husband said that I was having an affair, doing drugs and was an alcoholic. This was his attempt to gain 'control' again even though I wasnt there. However within time my TRUE friends learned that by my actions, this wasn't true and after a few years those lies came back to haunt my ex-husband. I left with nothing but my children, a few garbage bags of kids cloths and important paper work that I hid in an envelope. (Kids birth certificates and social security cards) I left everything there including the large, beautiful home that we built however I slept at night, the enitre night through without fear and that is worth a million dollars more than I could have ever gotten by staying. Thank you Kathy. Your kindness by bringing this to light will help more people than you will ever know. You are a true friend. B.

Rich Dixon said...

Wow--that's what I say when I don't know what to say.

Thanks for a great--if disturbing--word picture of kindness.

L.T. Elliot said...

Thank you for this, Kathy. I'm inspired to meet needs.

Kevin said...

Kudos to you for bringing attention to this important issue!

I love this: "On the most basic level, kindness MEETS NEEDS." So simple but so powerful!

Louise Gallagher said...

Hello Kat, as you know -- I didn't find the courage to leave. he was arrested and I was given the miracle of my life.

Abuse hurts. Stop it.

I cannot stop an abuser. I can stop abuse happening in my life. And in my children's lives. I can put an end to abuse. We call can, by speaking up, standing up, walking away, running, and as you say, helping those in abusive situations understand -- they do not deserve.

by not condemning, or blaming the person being abused, but rather, by loving them until they learn to love themselves away from their abusers.

thanks Kat.

powerful post.


Anonymous said...

getting down to the nitty gritty of kindness.

you are very fit for use.

Anonymous said...

nice post. thanks.

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it