Of course, it doesn’t have to be a spouse. It can be a mom or dad, a son or daughter, or an in-law. It can be a work associate, a neighbor, or a fellow church member – anyone whom we know well and have perhaps worked with for a long time. It can be anyone whose little ways and habits and idiosyncrasies we know well from years of experience.
“Usually, things are just fine between the two of us,” we might say. “But occasionally, old habits really foul things up!”
Still, kindness is always what is needed in situations like that. After all, kindness is part and parcel of the love of God for man. “For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee ... saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee,” the Bible says (Isaiah 54:10).
Since God is Love, that quality of kindness flows naturally and unstoppably from God’s very nature. Kindness is a matter of allowing God’s precious love to be expressed in us, rather than the exercise of some personal quality that we possess.
When all the residue of our interaction with someone finally dries up and we are left with just the bare essence, kindness should remain at the core of that essence. That is, when every form of politeness, correctness, and niceness, or the need or desire for cooperation and harmony in a home or workplace or a church or neighborhood, somehow evaporates or is temporarily blown away, we still need to find kindness right there, always there, regardless of what else has happened.
Kindness is a reminder that the love of God is always present and is with us, wherever we are or whatever we are doing. It is like the sweet odor of newly mowed hay. I may be driving through the beautiful hills around my home, on my way to town on a sunny June day, and suddenly that sweet odor floods through the window from the open fields. For me it’s a sweet hint of how close the heaven of God’s love is. Kindness expressed is just like that; it reminds us that God’s love embraces us right at that moment.
When it’s a spouse, often it is so true that no one knows a spouse’s difficulties and failings better than his or her marriage partner. But the spouse also knows the deep well of good in the other spouse. And such good is there in each one, for God reflects goodness clearly in all of His creation. Good is the common attraction and cohesiveness in all of what God creates. And when one marries, that good is the foundation of that partnership; good is what really attracts. So it is there to be discovered by each spouse – good expressed in oneself and in the other.
Oh, there is one exception to a spouse best knowing his or her married partner. It is God, divine Love itself. God knows the spouse perfectly.
God certainly knows and understands what He has created. God knows the infinite depth of good He reflects in individual ways in the true identity of each man, woman, and child. That is to say, God surely knows the constancy and quality of His own work, and we are His work. He knows us to be good, harmonious, and stable in the expression of His own goodness.
Though to us there may appear to be huge gaps, cracks, lacks, and holes in both ourselves and others, God does not see it that way. He views each of us through His great love, which rejoices in the spiritual perfection He created. Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, makes a simple statement that has great relevance to the subject at hand. She says, “Love never loses sight of loveliness” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 248). Kindness is a simple attitude and act when we insist to ourselves that we see a spouse or someone else close to us as God sees him or her.
Kindness is quite different from simply “being nice,” as we are often taught to be. It isn’t necessary for a spouse to attempt to “just be nice” to maintain peace in the home. Niceness by itself may come only from a human consideration, without thought of God, to avoid a reaction to doing what’s right, for example. But kindness comes from the reality and depth of God’s love. Niceness is best exhibited as part of the powerful embrace of real kindness.
The bottom line for this strong expression of kindness is always an ever stronger grasp of our own individual relationship to God as well as that of the one close to us. Each one has this unbreakable bond with God. Knowing this, we can enter into that sweet atmosphere of unfailing kindness regardless of the human circumstance.