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Be Kind to Yourself

Be Kind to Yourself

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. – 1 John 4:16

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:14

Being a flight attendant is stretching because it requires that you interact with strangers, who in most cases are so stressed from all that happens when traveling that they are sometimes the worst versions of themselves by the time I greet them on the plane. Waiting in line at the ticket counters, TSA pat downs, dealing with agents, gate changes, seven-dollar bottles of water, checking their luggage when they didn’t want to check their luggage, and all the other things they encounter at the airport can be really hard. If I try to help someone fit their bag in the overhead bin and it doesn’t fit, it’s my fault, even though I didn’t make the bins or buy the bag that wasn’t the right size. If I ask someone to get off of their phone during the safety demonstration, I’m the bad guy, even though the safety demonstration is the most important part of the whole journey. Usually, I have to ask them multiple times, too, and that’s when things really start to spice up. I wish I could let everyone do whatever makes them the happiest, but that’s not always in the safety and best interest of everyone else around. It can be a lot.

I was learning how to be kind to not the kindest of humans. I was being stretched like a rubber band. I found myself, more often than not, annoyed and losing empathy when dealing with the hardest people to love. I was really discouraged. I was learning a lot, but the lessons felt stale. The inner work of becoming the most beautiful, kind, patient version of myself — the version I deeply desired and wanted to become — wasn’t sticking. Something was off…

I believe that we become like the things we love, and if I’m being honest, I didn’t love a lot of good, healthy things. The things I found myself loving were toxic relationships and behaviors, holding on to pain, impatience, self-doubt, and not handling my mental health very well. How could I ever expect to love others well if the love I had in my life and toward myself was so unhealthy? How could I build people up if I only tore myself down? How could I be kind to others if I wasn’t first being kind to myself?

That last question really shook me. I became a flight attendant so I could be a reflection of the kindness I so freely received because of God’s love. I wanted to be Love in the world. When I say Love here… I want you to know that I mean it as being like Jesus. I like referring to Jesus as Love because this is what Jesus is to me and what Jesus calls us to be as well…

I saw a tiny notepad sticking out that I’d received from graduating flight attendant training. I honestly have no idea why I kept it, but I’m so thankful I did. My dollar-store notepad was my first lesson about the magic of little moments. I can’t really tell you why, but something sparked inside of me seeing it. I wanted to let people in on what I was learning, as I was learning it. Not after I had already been through my inner work but while I was in the thick of it.

I couldn’t help but think about all the other humans out there who could be struggling with their own shortcomings. What if my early morning revelation that I needed to be kinder to myself was exactly what someone else needed to hear today too? How could my words be used to change the course of someone’s day, or even life? I wondered. What if I started leaving notes of encouragement on random flights for someone to find? I could learn to embody Love in the midst of someone else’s ordinary day through an act of kindness as small as a piece of paper. An idea was being born.

With a Sharpie, I wrote… “Be kind to yourself.” As I looked at the finished product, I started thinking bigger. What if I took this idea even further and shared my notes online before I tucked them in a seat-back pocket for someone else to find? I had always been one to share vulnerability on the internet, but this felt different. So, before I even had time to think about what I was doing, I taped the note on an airplane window, snapped a picture, and then left the note in the seat-back pocket for a stranger to find…

We all have moments where we need encouragement. (I wish I could wear a Bluetooth earpiece where someone could secretly feed me encouragement and love all day long.) We all forget to be kind to ourselves — I for one am not my own best cheerleader. It’s really easy to push ourselves as hard as we can, and it’s even easier to beat ourselves up when we fail. It’s hard to practice kindness toward yourself, but it’s hard work that is worth doing. Being kind to ourselves can open us up to a whole new world that is filled with kindness, courage, and a little bit of magic.

Now when I have internal pep talks and I remind myself, Be kind to yourself, I know what the fruit of that looks like. It looks like a beautiful step toward healthiness, which allows me to be healthy with others. It looks like giving myself grace, which then leads to being kind to strangers and having grace with them as well. It looks like small acts of kindness that have the power to embody Love. Kindness looks a lot like Jesus. I hope I continue to look a lot more like that.

Excerpted with permission from Words from the Window Seat by Taylor Tippett, copyright Taylor Tippett.

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Your Turn

Kindness looks a lot like Jesus! It’s not that hard to be kind. Little gestures of kindness matter greatly! What would it look like to extend the Love of Jesus to yourself today and let that love overflow to those around you? Come share with us! We want to know! ~ Laurie McClure, Faith.Full