Do Good Anyway
I'd like to say that kindness is easy. That it's simple, really.
But. It's not even easy to talk about always. That's what I'm discovering.
Last month when a bunch of us were first discussing the creation of The Kindness Project, several writers expressed their concern that they didn't feel kind--that they weren't "qualified" when it came to matters of kindness. And you know what I told them? "You're one of the kindest people I know." I suppose it's a matter of perception, really. And self-perception is often a bit skewed.
But not always. Sometimes we're truly not kind. Sometimes, we're complete jackwads. And the truth is I don't feel qualified to do this, to talk about kindness as a conscious choice. A lifetime habit. A matter of existence. I've never struggled so much with a blog post as I have with this one. Because who the hell am I to be talking about kindness? I don't know anything about being good.
Let me confess. I've not been right for a long time. Like, all kinds of sad. Especially since I came back from Haiti. It's been a miserable, boiling pit of heartbreak and helplessness. I've blamed myself, feeling, well...guilty. I didn't do enough; I made poor choices; I'm not and will never be enough. It's hard to explain without going into the thick of it, which would take a long time and I'd have to leave a lot of blank spaces for you at the end of it all. But I told myself this would be a good post for The Kindness Project. I'd talk about forgiveness, see. Like, forgiving the self as a matter of kindness--accepting the self, faults and frailties included. So I sat down last night and stared into my video camera because no matter how hard I tried to write it down, the words just wouldn't come out right. And I stared for hours. I finally gave up at 3:30 AM when I realized I couldn't do it. I couldn't let myself go into that sad place, not then. I've tried so hard not to think about it, you know? And really, I'm not at a place of forgiveness yet, not for me. I still feel so raw, so wrong. So how can I inspire you to forgive yourself?
The problem with feeling like you're no good at all is that you turn away from things you love. You don't deserve them, you think. Or you don't know how to look at them without being reminded of the wrongness in you. Your friends. Your family. Your spouse.Your church. Your writing. Freaking cupcakes.
I've denied myself all these things.
And just as bad? You start thinking that you're not really capable of kindness. People will see right through it, right? They'll see what a fraud you are. Who do you think you are with all your pretenses?
It doesn't matter how logical you are. How wise. How experienced. It's hard to feel like you might be judged for doing bad things. But it's even harder to feel like you can do good things and it means nothing at all, that everyone will question your motives. Or worse, that YOU might.
Just tonight I was texting my friend Liz (at 11:30 PM) that I still couldn't get myself to blog about kindness. Kindness block, she called it. I talked to her a little about why. And you know what she did? She reminded me of the tattoo I'm getting: "Do good anyway."
Huh. Yeah. Yeah.
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
The thing is, it doesn't matter how good or bad you feel inside or what people will think, or if they will question your motives. It doesn't even matter if the reasons for doing good and being kind are screwed up. It only matters that you do good. The things you've done in your past are just that--YOUR PAST. The bad choices you make now and tomorrow and after may not be erased by the good that you do, but you must do good anyway.
Because the bad, the guilt, the wrong inside does not erase the good that you do. So do it. Do good anyway.
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