I hate camping. I mean really hate it. With a passion.
My husband loves it and is always trying to convince me to go. I grew up going on camping holidays, but they were always in the south of France, where there’s generally sunshine and proper facilities. Camping in Scotland can be quite a different experience.
More midges, more rain.
Putting on said wellies in the middle of the night to walk 200 metres to the toilet.
No thank you.
And then there’s the airbed. No matter how well you inflate them before going to bed, inevitably by 4am part of your body is lying on the cold hard ground and you are very uncomfortable. Eventually your chilly state of discomfort leads you to need the toilet – on go the wellies again and so commences the long walk to the bathroom.
Bear Grylls I am most definitely not.
Life is hard enough without camping.
Sometimes the things that we put our trust in begin to deflate. Jobs, family, church, friends, possessions, position – all can change, let us down or be taken away, and as a result leave us wondering in the middle of the night why we’re suddenly lying on cold, hard ground. The cushion that had seemed so reliable has gone and life has become considerably more uncomfortable.
What do we do when life begins to sink? Where do we find the means to lift ourselves again?
The Bible talks about kind words being like honey, “sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” (Proverbs 16 v 24 NLT) Can words really do all that?
I had a conversation with a friend this week who was asking how my husband and I are doing in the midst of our ongoing season of uncertainty. This friend has been consistent in his care and kindness, but played to his gender stereotype by bemoaning the fact that his mere words were not satisfactory and what he really wanted to do was fix the situation for us. Not being able to do so led him to believe that his kind words were a poor substitute.
I quickly put him right.
You see lying on the cold hard ground of difficult circumstances eventually takes its toll. You can put up with it for a while, but eventually you start to ache. At those times what we need are friends to come around us and breathe words of kindness into our deflated life. To lift us off the ground, even for a few moments, with their care and attention. To ease the strain in our bodies that has come from carrying too much stress for too many days. Lift the burden from our weary shoulders so that we can stand tall again. I know that the kind words of many people over these last couple of years have been a tonic that my soul could not have done without.
The power of kindness, of kind words, is hugely under-rated.
There have been several documented examples over the past few years of strangers pausing to ask someone ‘are you alright?’, and that one question, that one moment of kindness has stopped a person from taking their life. They didn’t physically pull them back from the brink, but their kindness had a power all of its own – transformational, life-giving.
I whole-heartedly believe that kind words are not some empty, token gesture but that they have strength, a steely core that can pack the best kind of punch.
Every single day each one of us has at our disposal a rich bank of words. Words that can be used to breathe life and hope, bring joy and laughter. Words can offer care and kindness, compassion and empathy. Words can change how someone feels about themselves or their circumstances.
Words are entirely free. They cost us nothing.
Words that we can choose to leave unsaid.
This world can be a tough place to walk through at times. Why would we leave kind words unsaid?
Will you join me in committing to kindness? Let’s throw it around like confetti? Let’s dare to say kind things to strangers as well as friends. We may never know if our kind words have made any sort of difference, but who cares? The world needs all of the kind words it can get.
Let us never fail to speak kindness.