Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Kindness of Strangers?

I have to say that i am noticing something lately about the kindness of strangers. And it is both surprising and obvious at the same time. Especially if you live in the South, as i do. ;)

Strangers will let a car go in front of them in traffic, offer a handshake and a smile in the church lobby, and exchange pleasantries while lingering in a waiting room. I see these behaviors all the time. And i think they are well done. We should be kind to one another! And as a Christian, i know that God calls us to love one another, that He rebukes us in the holy Scriptures to love even "the least of these" [Matthew 25:40] and the ones who are less lovable [Matthew 5:43-47].

Lately, though, with Social Media, i am noticing another trend in the kindness of strangers: we praise, encourage, and compliment one another in the public forum. Again, there is nothing wrong with that. But it hit me like a ton of bricks this week that we are not as good at performing those same kindnesses amongst our own families.

In the same way that we can have heated debates on Social Media and say things we would probably never say in person, we are also quick to offer lengthy encouragement, hearty praise, and flowery compliments - in the Social Media forum, at least. And yet... are we using those same gifts in our own homes?

Here's what i mean...

Are we offering the same flowery praise to our children? Our spouse?
Are we encouraging our children and spouse as much as we encourage others on Facebook?
Are we speaking words of praise over our children and spouse enough to fill their Love Banks?
Are we quick to speak life when a child or spouse has made a mistake?

Or... do we save those sides of ourselves for strangers (or practical strangers)?

The truth is, on Facebook, you can get encouragement back. You get "Likes" and words of affirmation after being a public cheerleader. But you don't exactly get that with your kids, do you?

I've read a lot lately about our culture becoming narcissistic, and i believe this may be part of it; we long for praise, encouragement, and compliments (it's human nature). But is it driving us to demand that sort of positive reinforcement from one another in any way we can get it? Are we less able to hear constructive criticism because of it? Are we becoming less interested in pouring positivity into the lives of people (like our children) who cannot pat us on the back for every good word? Are we less invested in the long-term satisfaction of a job well done and more focused on the immediate gratification Social Media offers?

Something to think about, anyway.
What say you?

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