Features / God Stories / Pastoral Care / Spiritual Formation

Deacon Mitzi Ethridge: Fruit of the Spirit – Kindness

MITZI ETHRIDGEKindness – what comes to mind? Benevolence, compassion, love…perhaps a person or an experience, a song or an image. For me, it’s a song I taught preschoolers years ago – “Be kind and loving to each other –Ephesians 4:32.” It’s funny how little jingles stick with you over the years. We use them to teach children, so they will remember what is important. However, a child needs more than a jingle to understand, a child needs experience.

Growing up, many kind and loving people surrounded me, in particular my father.

Dad was a quiet and humble man whose empathy and compassion served as a doorway to his kind nature. I saw this often as a child, many times the recipient of his kindness. I remember once, I wasn’t more than eight or nine years old, I busted a hole through a locked door in our home. Fearing my fate, I left a note for Dad with a little money to pay for damages. Then I “ran away from home” to our neighbors backyard! When Dad found me, he wrapped his arms around me, told me he loved me and reassured me, “No problem is ever too big for us to fix together.” His actions were a reflection of parental love softened by a kind heart.

Growing up in Smoke Rise Baptist Church, I learned the virtue of kindness. A favorite Sunday School teacher once told me, “Your smile is a gift.” I think of him often on Sunday mornings before and during the service as we greet one another. A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.

Kindness starts with a smile but becomes so much more. It’s opening the hymnal for the person sitting next to you, it’s helping a child reach the water fountain, it’s supporting mission projects at home and abroad. You can show kindness in grand ways but it starts with little, often unremembered acts of love and grace.

At Smoke Rise, our children see it every Sunday. They watch… they learn… they follow… they become. This was evident with our youth at PASSPORTcamp this year.

For me, lessons of kindness began at home and at church. Like our young people today, we carry these lessons into the world, beyond the doors of Smoke Rise and into the lives of others.

Kindness – what comes to mind? For me it is a song, an action.

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