"In the End, Only Kindness Matters" - Thank you, Jewel

Unfortunately, writing a blog about being a perfectionist does not negate the voice in me that wants each post to be complete in my heart and in my head before I post it. While there is something to be said about not just word-vomiting out there for all the world to see, I realize that my perfectionism may just be getting in the way of my writing...about my perfectionism. I'd like to share my story while it's happening, as I'm learning, in the middle of my process. That means that I may change my mind. I may later read my posts and be embarrassed by how unenlightened they may seem to me in the future. All I can say is, this perfectionist is willing to take the risk.
Perhaps that's why my post about no longer going to church created such a wave among the people I know and love, because most of us don't read articles by people who haven't landed on a conclusion yet. We don't speak in the dark night of the soul. We suffer in silence and speak again once we've come out on the other side. And then we do so with authority. It's a lot more vulnerable to put your story on the internet while it's still being written. 
But that, my friends, is exactly how my series on my current values began, with honesty. It's not surprising to me that kindness is the necessary follow-up topic. My definition of honesty includes vulnerability and a willingness to be wrong. It's about breaking down walls. But honesty, without being tempered by kindness, can actually have the opposite effect. I've seen many walls being put up in the name of honesty. It comes down to posture. 
It's not just about what I say or why I say it, but where is my heart in that moment? Now that I've been through a major job loss and identity crisis, I no longer assume that my life is secure, that the things I have are deserved or permanent. This gives me the humility to be gracious to the people around me. It allows me to share my money, my time, my humanity without being an asshole in the process. I don't assume I'm right, better, or safer than the person next to me. 
This is probably my specific church background talking, but I often felt that being right (having the right biblical interpretation and applying it) was way more important than being kind. That kindness meant communicating the truth we had no matter how offensive it may seem to the listener. If we love the people around us, that must mean that we need to tell them how fucked up they are, right? That's what God would have us do. 
But let's face it. It's not "good news" to tell the world around us that they aren't enough; they need to do more, be more, be better. That their choices are wrong, their political beliefs are against God and they're going to hell. 
I'm not saying that truth has no value or that there doesn't come a time when we have to say hard things (nor am I saying I still believe the aforementioned ideologies). Real relationship includes conflict. I just think our priorities are wrong. If our goal was mercy, the love and grace of God would pour out of us and I am CONFIDENT that it would change the world. 
So many problems in our world would go away if we spoke and acted with kindness as the goal. Often, I find our conversations and actions are motivated by pride (needing to be right or prove a point), fear (needing to be in control), or ignorance (an unwillingness to learn from others). What would happen if we looked at others as equally deserving as us? How would we treat the people around us if we knew what it was really like to be them? What thoughts would run through our minds when we witness a young mother with multiple snot-nosed kids in the grocery line cashing WIC checks or using food stamps? Would we think about how they're such a drain on the system? How they need to get it together? Or would we instead think for a moment about what it would be like to be that woman? How hard it must be to not have enough money for food? Or even more radical, admitting to ourselves that THAT COULD BE ME. We are all one moment away from being that lady. So, don't be annoyed when her multiple transactions take longer. Smile and be patient. 
The people around us need grace, not grief. The world needs more kindness, more mercy, more listening. And when I say "the people around us", I mean US. We've got to stop being so hard on ourselves so that we can extend grace to the people around us. Be kind to yourself. Be kind to your neighbor. This is the work of God.