Kindness – Not Me

Well here we go:  How do our attitudes and how we were brought up as children affect us as we grow (Becoming What I Came To Be)?  Some things we come to understand naturally, but some things we do not.  We have to learn them; sometimes the hard way.

I don’t remember much about when I was small, but I know I was born in Newton, Iowa.  And one memory I do have from that time is that my grandma lived on our property in her own little cottage.  I’d traipse down there often and she would usually grab a milk carton out of the freezer and pour me freezing cold milk that tasted so awesome – along with cookies, of course!

Grandma always seemed to greet me with a smile whenever I went down to see her.  She was so very kind, showing the love towards me that is talked about in Colossians 3:12.

But unfortunately her kindness didn’t rub off on me…

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Hated my haircuts!

As a matter of fact, it seemed as I grew I was turning out just the opposite.  Even when we moved to Seattle when I was 5 years-old and finally made some friends, I’d usually think of “me” first.  Yes, I loved my friends.  But I often felt the urge to be better than they were.

In hindsight through the years, I think a lot of it came from my insecurity.  I always wanted to be popular, but wasn’t.  I had to wear clothes I hated, and my mom would cut my bangs really short.  I was dorkness intensified.  And, since I was shy, it was hard for me to make new friends in school.  I always felt like an outcast.

During parent-invited class parties in grade school, I used to hate for my mom to attend (dad was usually working).  Mother hadn’t given birth to me until her mid-30s, and to me she just looked so old compared to the other moms.  I’d get embarrassed.

As I got into middle school things got worse.  We had by then moved to a city where everyone seemed to be rich except us.  A lot of my classmates were from a totally different culture than I was.  I felt like I was sinking more into “Loserville” every day.  So I started hanging out with a group of kids who taught me all about drinking alcohol, drugs, sex and skipping school.  Since I had no money and hated babysitting, I soon also learned the fine art of shoplifting – it was so easy!

When I got to high school things were even more horrible…

I constantly fought the urge to be “popular.”  I wanted to fit in desperately with the classmates who got invited to all the cool parties and hang out with the jocks.

Of course I certainly wasn’t the only self-proclaimed misfit, so I began befriending some of the other misfits – but only because they had something I wanted.  It could’ve been to become acquainted with another friends of theirs, a cute brother they had, or because they were richer than our family.  I wanted them to invite me to go with them on vacations where I could escape the realities of home life where things weren’t going well – especially since dad had suffered a mental breakdown and had disappeared from our lives in my early teens.

psalm 86_15But once I got what I wanted from these new friends, I’d start being mean to them – dumping their friendship and gossiping behind their backs.  Even when I dropped out of school and got my first real job at 17 years-old, I still would always look to how I could incorporate myself into someone’s good graces, because they had something I wanted.

It was a vicious cycle, but I got pretty good at it.  Unfortunately I don’t remember ever feeling bad about it, either.  Life was all about me, myself and I.  Exhibiting my grandma’s loving acts of kindness never even entered my mind.

As a matter of fact, it took many, many years before I learned how to be kind.  God had to teach me, and it was slow work.

Next week I’ll be talking about forgiveness.  That wasn’t in my vocabulary either!

 


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