First we ran into B&M Bargains to fill our boots with sugary loot. We had been waiting for the new Cinderella movie for a while now and having watched a few trailers, we knew it looked pretty awesome. So on a cold rainy Tuesday afternoon we met up with my mum and headed into the Omniplex for a matinee show.
On the whole, this visual feast didn’t disppoint. There was the odd intense moment when I had a sneaky peak to my left and made sure my sheltered five year old, on the little red booster seat, was doing okay. The lizard footman with the freaky face might have been too much and, at times, I feared that Cate Blanchett was playing the cruel stepmother role a little too well….but overall, we happily munched our way through the whole thing.
The tag line in this new Disney blockbuster is, ‘Have courage and be kind.’
Simples. And so as Autumn and I intently watched the film, my crazy internal monologue went something like this:
‘Yes! This is it Autumn! Cinderella does get to be a real princess for a night and yes her glass slippers are really cool and yes her hair is quite frankly, perfection – but also, she just loves others with a big open heart! She understands the value in being kind, the power that lies in it! It’s her spirit that makes her beautiful, whether she’s dressed in rags or ball gowns, this girl radiates beauty and kindness to everyone she encounters.
Even the prince, who meets her in the woods when her hair is tied up in a rag, riding a big horse with a dirty dress on (obviously, Lily James is a stunner no matter what she has on, but stay with me here) recognises her goodness and is struck dumb by her spirit- it captures him! Cinderella has only a few friends but those she has she loves with a freedom that draws them in….with a kindness that brings them life and joy. Have courage and be kind -yes!
Then Autumn asked me to open her Fruit Shoot and I remembered -she’s five.
But yeah, this kindness thing. Who cares right?
Like last week the girl on the check out at Tesco was unbelievably slow and so very chatty with the customer in front. I had the kids in the trolley and the conveyor belt all loaded up and ready to go. But she just kept on talking. So much talking. And when it finally was our long awaited turn, I did what I do best- I huffed a bit with the check out assistant. I just sort of blanked her. No eye contact, no small talk, no smiles. She had made me wait, for at least two minutes, so I was mad. I guess I figured she didn’t deserve any kindness that day.
And our window cleaner, who seems to appear at our window like every other day- even though it’s fortnightly- well, he just loves a chat, a bit of banter. My husband is really good at this, he will find some topic of common interest, he’ll ask good questions, he’ll make the time. But me? I usually just want to find the right change to pay him and get on with my stuff. I feel like this guy, who’s out in the cold cleaning my windows, he has the potential to hold me back, to slow me down, to make me stop. But I must solider on or my whole afternoon will unravel.
So stopping is out of the question.
A conversation will take too long.
And kindness is too much.
Then there’s our lollipop man, standing outside my daughter’s school. He is actually the nicest lollipop man in the world. And every single time we walk across that road my little boy Noah will shout all up in his face, ‘Mornin!’. It doesn’t really matter if its home time at 2o’clock, he will still shout, ‘Mornin!’
Sometimes, I’m fussing about Noah holding onto the buggy, or I’m panicking because I hear the school bell from the footpath or Poppy’s dummy has fallen out or I’m gabbing to another mum and so I miss the opportunity to say hello to this lovely man, to acknowledge the nice sunny weather, to wish him a good day, to thank him for helping us cross the road safely…. But wee Noah? He never ever forgets. Without fail he will say his bit to the lollipop man, he’ll look up at his face and give him the little greeting. Despite everything going on around him Noah ain’t gonna miss the opportunity to say hello. Kindness rules.
Whilst out running the other day (I know, yay me!) I was pounding, okay jogging, down the footpath and this little car came across the traffic and looked like it was pulling in….I just knew it was someone stopping to ask me something. For a second I thought- screw it I’m gonna jog on, just keep my head straight, pretend I don’t see. Then the old man rolled down his window and stuck his grey, toothless head out of it. I’m a sucker for grey toothless old men so I stopped.
‘Cuse me Miss, so sorry to interrupt your momentum.’ he said.
Haha! Momentum? I thought, what the heck is that and where can I buy some?
But I smiled.
He carried on.
‘Would you happen to know where Tesco is?’
Yes! Easy peasy! Of course I do!
And I gave him a few simple directions.
‘Thanks you so much Miss, I’m not from these parts, so very sorry for stopping you and all your hard work.’
‘No problem’ I said, ‘have a good day.’
And off he went on his merry way.
It cost me nothing to stop for that elderly man and offer him my help. Yet I almost chose to keep running and pretend I didn’t see him.
Whoever goes hunting for what is right and kind finds life itself- glorious life! Proverbs 21:21
So what if I let kindness rule in my life? What if I looked beyond the person? What if I saw past their job, their circumstances, their appearance, their attitude, their mistakes, their bad habits- and I just saw Jesus? What if there was an opportunity to heal? To offer hope? To be kind? Because I tend to place people in these little boxes, you know, the ones I’ve so wisely constructed for them. But what if I just do away with the boxes?
What if I became known not for my clean house or my well behaved kids or my wise cracks and cool blog – what if I became known for my character, for my kindness?
There’s a bit in James 2 that talks about the seamless unity of believing and doing – how that counts with God. And how kind mercy wins.
I want my actions and my beliefs to be seamless. And I need grace for the gaping holes where it’s not.
I want kind mercy to win a lot more often in my life. And I need grace for help with that too.
So last term we went into school for Autumn’s parent-teacher interview thingy. Her teacher said some stuff about Autumn working on her letter formation, her phonics, her counting skills beyond 50. But she also said Autumn shows kindness on the playground, she’s great at helping others at her little table, she notices the child who is shy and has few friends- she includes them. And I thought my heart might burst and angels would appear singing ‘glory hallelujah!’ Because in truth, I am not really bothered about her academic progress- she’s five. But I want her to try and do what is right. I want her to see others. I think if she can have courage and be kind, even now, then she could change the world.
We all could.