An orchard of kindness

Published 2:02 pm Wednesday, July 27, 2016

By Chanel Bingham / Guest Columnist

Kindness is somewhat of a theme in our family. We study it in the scriptures, we teach it to our children and we practice it with other people. As a family, we intentionally strive to embrace kindness in all aspects of our lives…or so I thought.

A few nights ago, I found my husband sitting on the back deck after having cut several acres of grass on our property. All the kids were occupied, and I thought it would be a great time to have a few moments, one on one, to catch up on our day and enjoy each other’s company.

We sat together quietly for a few moments and enjoyed the beautiful setting sun as it glistened off the gentle ripples of the ponds. Off in the distance, my youngest son was fishing, which sparked a conversation about the giant fish he caught earlier that day.

After discussing the dramatics of catching and trying to release the giant fish, I was reminded of the amazing show I had watched the night before. I love the Discovery Channel and was completely enthralled with one of their Planet Earth episodes. It featured the rain forest and some of the most amazing, scary, unbelievable creatures I had ever seen, but it was the cicadas that really caught my attention.

The cicada is an insect that lives underground for 17 years. After that time, when the ground temperature reaches 64 degrees Fahrenheit, millions of cicadas (up to 1.5 million per acre) rise from the ground for the sole purpose of laying their eggs. Once they have reproduced, they die.

Of course, the Discovery Channel had captured this rare event, and as embarrassed as I am to admit it, I was really into it. So I started to share these cool and crazy facts about the cicada insect with my husband, only to have him interrupt me half way through my story when he received a message on his phone.

He excused himself but promised he would return shortly. When he rejoined me on the deck, he nonchalantly asked me to continue with my story.

Of course, I didn’t take too kindly to being interrupted, especially in the middle of such an amazing conversation. I mean, who wouldn’t be captivated by the cicada?

He explained that a friend messaged him with a question and he had to look up something before he could respond with an answer. Seeing the hurt on my face and understanding that the question could have waited, he immediately apologized and asked me again to continue my story.

I knew his remorse was genuine and that he valued our time together, but I was angry that his actions showed otherwise, and so I left him alone on the deck.

As I walked away, the Holy Spirit began stirring in my heart, “Do your actions reflect kindness?” I was convicted, but I was still hurt. More stirring. “You have a responsibility to plant an orchard of kindness, not only for those on the outside, but for those within your family.”

After my conversation with the Holy Spirit, I returned to our deck, accepted my husband’s apology and offered one of my own.

I’ll admit that it can sometimes be much easier to offer kindness to a stranger than my own husband and children, but I am learning that in practicing kindness not only with others, but within my own family, I am demonstrating the true nature of Father God to the ones I love the most.

Each gentle and tender word spoken, every hurtful action forgiven, every compassionate act of love plants and waters the seeds that produce good fruit. And I pray that one day, my tiny garden of seeds will become a beautiful, blooming orchard of kindness for generations to come.

Dear Father God,

You are so kind to me. I am so undeserving, yet you lavish your loving kindness upon me in abundant measure. You are slow to anger and faithful to forgive. Your mercies are new every morning. As I daily walk in your kindness, help me to plant seeds which will produce good fruit. May my thoughts, words and actions be a reflection of your true nature, producing an orchard of kindness within the hearts of my family. In Jesus name, Amen!