“Oil and perfume make the soul glad, and sweetness of a friendship comes from his earnest counsel.”
Proverbs 27 v. 9
A new practice of discovery often brings me to books appropriate to read to Nehemiah, my granddaughter. At almost five months old, I must consider texts that offer God’s understanding and praise and those that provide teachable moments.
Reading one of my monthly journals dated November 2022– -yes, I need to catch up on most of these reading materials. In my explorations of recommended books in this journal, I found a review that deeply caught my attention. It was a small book of poetry written by Naomi Shihab Nye. Shihab Nye wrote her first poem at six years old. The book I refer to now is, Everything Comes Next 
I ordered this book immediately.
In the final verse paragraph of the poem called Kindness, Shihab Nye wrote:
“Before you know kindness
as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the
other deepest thing.” (Pg. 222)
I stopped then and thought profoundly about what this meant on my growing Christian path. I have experienced great kindness in my life, as I continue to do now. And buried hidden beneath the surface of these kind remembrances and daily acceptance of current benevolence, I occasionally dwell in a place of sorrow and sometimes even regret. These feelings are quite contradictory to the emotions, kindness brings. Yet, they still visit.
And, I think of the reasoned kindness I have given to others—this compassion from within me. Whether these kind actions were acknowledged is irrelevant because when the need to be kind takes hold of my heart, nothing can change this. I have always loved the sentiments I experience when I am led in this direction. When a conversation of any kind comes to fruition concerning these giftings, I immediately acknowledge friends’ voices heard, cherished, and remembered.
Shihab Nye in her poem named Kindness continued with this:
“Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.” (Pg. 222)
I now think of a sermon I listened to a while back. The pastor discussed the need not to focus entirely on repentance or sin. But instead, congregants must put focus on what Jesus did for us. I listened but could not agree with this statement. The sermon was very contradictory. What Jesus did for us through this careless statement, I felt, was being taken for granted. I don’t listen to this pastor anymore! Thank you, Heavenly Father!
I suggest that Shihab Nye speaks of her own life. We all have our meanings to fill this impactful prose. The influence of the author’s words here, if allowed, can permeate the innermost level of the soul. Though for some people who cannot grasp the importance of kindness—given and received—the statement above may mean nothing at all! Yet still, they are honored right here as children of God!
But those who embrace kindness, I say, are always open to the workings of Holy Spirit as He teaches and guides. This group, I’ve come to know, recognizes that asking for God’s forgiveness should never become a chore or a thought held in a ball of laziness. Asking for forgiveness must be constant in the Believer’s life. In kindness, Jesus died for our terrible sins. Had He chosen to save himself (Luke 23 v. 39) on the cross, today, we would have no salvation.
Jesus’ kindness continued even while on the cross! He thought of his mother’s welfare, ensuring she would be cared for (John 19 vv. 26-27). He pardoned the dying thief (Luke 23 v. 43). He terminated His own Spirit (Luke 23 v. 47), for us! It has been written that when Jesus died, the world was covered with a tidal wave of enormous capacity, which rose the rivers and seas. This is a semblance of His magnificent stature over sin as He continuously reunites everything to Him.
As Christians, kindness is a requirement to cultivate fruitful spiritual friendships. There are no ifs, ands, or buts, about this. Wherever you are on friendship journeys, implementing kindness as a practical verb is necessary to create the friendships we seek. Letting go of Enemy-inspired behaviors is also crucial. It’s only possible to follow what Jesus asked us to do (Matt: 22 vv. 37-40) if we lift the veils of deceit.
Some people allow traumatic events, failures, or situations of destroyed trust, to lead, every waking moment. Believe me; I was one of these people at one point of age. And, although I have since chosen a quiet, simpler life, even so, I express vulnerabilities and reach out to friends when my soul needs kindness. Or right at these moments, dear friends, reach out to me! As I am gentle to myself, I find it much easier to be gentle with others.
Jesus showed us how to cultivate meaningful relationships in His time on earth. If we earnestly follow His teachings, there’s great hope for us and in doing so, we can be all right!
 Nye, N. S. Everything comes next: Collected and new poems. Greenwillow Books. pg. 222
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.