“Kindness is a currency that, when spent, buys more than money can..PK Langley”
He came into my office for an assessment, a young white kid in need of kindness. I got the impression that his whole life was in that black wore out backpack of his. Those dark brown eyes were almost black, and conveyed an emptiness that seemed impenetrable. I felt no hostility from him and I’m always watching and listening for any signs of danger. He felt like a soft old soul to me.
Next to his bag and closely kept was his only solace on the streets alone; it was a beat up cheap guitar. As I went through the assessment with him, I became more and more endeared to him. Schizophrenia symptoms began to emerge from him as we spoke and, by the end of the assessment, I was pretty sure that would be his diagnosis. He’s homeless, with no familial ties that he would share. That’s what happens with many who are diagnosed with schizophrenia; they lose all connection and support over time.
Kindness Gives Time
At the end of my assessment I had some time. It’s time I usually take to tie up loose ends in my charts, go to the rest room, get a snack or talk with my co-workers for five minutes. Whenever I encounter someone like this young man, I give them that time. I pulled out my flute and asked him to play his guitar. He smiled and immediately picked up his perfectly tuned guitar.
Kindness is easy when you listen for those moments. It’s an opportunity to give to someone who needs, to listen to someone who wants to talk. I have never found a moment of kindness I’ve shared with another human being to be something I regretted. The moment I gave to this young man with an old soul will be one that I will not soon forget.
Kindness Doesn’t Discriminate
I began playing my flute and closed my eyes, trusting that he would not harm me. He immediately found the music I was playing on my flute and quickly joined along. Our melodies entwined together and in that moment, we were one in a way that was intimate but as two human beings sharing their humanity. He was naturally gifted and able to make my flute playing sound like something beautiful. We took ten minutes together, just drifting in and out of rhythms as we both enjoyed the serentiy that enveloped us in music. I forgot about work in that moment and the young man in front of me was simply a friend, with no other agendas.
Kindness with Strings
Love is simple and easy when we allow the trappings of humanity to fall away. When I was a pastor I always had an agenda. My first agenda was to “save them”. I wanted to make sure people weren’t going to go to Hell. Then, after saving them, I wanted to lock them into regular church attendance. I know this is hard for pastors to admit and, had I still been a senior pastor, it would probably have been hard for me to tell you my kindness had strings.
If I loved unconditionally, I would not have needed a church building. I would have been more like the Jesus I so admired. Being out there with people and giving would have been enough instead of feeding my own ego. Real love flows in special moments, like feeding five thousand people when Jesus could have had them support him for the rest of his life.
Jesus could have had them calling him Pastor Jesus. He could have used the raising of Lazarus to start a church and build a cult around himself. Every opportunity Jesus had to take advantage of his gifts was instead spent on real life love currency. This is the example that I want to follow now and one that I endeavor to achieve every day, with every opportunity afforded me.
As a pastor, I meant well. I really thought I was doing good and that my kindness was something that God wanted. When the epiphany came, I realized that I was much more agenda driven than unconditionally caring for the human beings that I came across. We would like to think that we are unconditional in our kindness toward others but truly, if there was nothing to gain from our interaction, would we interact? I now ask myself that and use it as a plum line to challenge myself.
I saw that young man again the other day. Gone was his overgrown mangled beard and wild black hair that went everywhere. The person now sitting in front of me had short hair and a shaved face. He resembled someone you would see on a university campus, with those same deep eyes. Well groomed and well-dressed. It was more than evident that his life circumstance had shifted since I last saw him.
He’s on medication now, and he’s not homeless. He has an apartment and a job that he works part-time. I’m so very proud of him for moving forward. He remembers our first encounter but not a lot of the details, but that’s okay with me. He’s calmer now and told me he is still playing his guitar. I have heard people speak against medication for psychiatric reasons. For someone like this young man, it is nothing less than a miracle.
Thankful for Kindness
I’m thankful for the ability to show kindness to others. I believe that the moment we shared together, having a jam session in my office, made a difference for him. When someone is struggling, a little kindness really does go a long way. Sometimes it can mean the difference for someone who is homeless to finding enough trust to take one more step and find stability.
Available publications by PK Langley
PK’s Fine Art Store where you can find many of the Frustrated Grace Prints.
PK writes short stories about life. They are in the form of ebooks for $1.37 each. Get them here.
Religious Deconstruction, The Frustrated Grace Series is now available, with over two hundred comic images on Amazon. You can get a preview of every single one here.
All Things Equal, is an exposition for women and how God
sees them from a very “biblical” point of view. It was what I needed in my first push toward deconstruction. If you are still in a church, and a woman, this is a great book to start. Get it here.
LangleyTown has a specific page for materials that will help you with your deconstruction. Find them here.
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