You know its a kindness when someone tells you that you kind of look like crap and should probably go home to spend some time with yourself. Because that isn't a particularly nice thing to do... but I needed someone to say it. I didn't actually get that time to myself... in fact someone is getting tickle tackled in my room as we speak.
Niceness = Like
Kindness = Love
I've thought about this sentiment a lot in the past couple of days and I think for me a "niceness" is doing something "nice" because you have to (for whatever reason). A kindness is doing something you want to do. Some nice things turn into kind things and vice versa. What started out of love can become a chore, and what started out as a responsibility, turns into one of the most meaningful things you've ever done.
This reminds me of the book Same Kind of Different as Me which is about the unlikely friendship of an art dealer who becomes friends with a homeless guy. His wife makes him go help out at the homeless shelter and he is only doing it at first because this is what his wife has told him to do. Then he learns to love it.
I've got a similar story. Okay, its a bit easier to take care of your nephews than to befriend a homeless man, but the experience has taught me a lot. I'm still learning. Its funny to see them grow up and expand in ways that I never thought they would. I hope they never stop telling me their opinions and hopes and dreams.
Kindness (love) is important because without it we humans tend to delve into our instincts and ignore others. I've had people show me this love in a myriad of ways. It always seems to be random acts of kindness because I never expect them! I have one co-worker that is always giving me random food she doesn't want in her house--sometimes I suspect she goes and buys the food for my kids. I've gotten a TON of clothes recently for my baby girl... totally unexpected since I never received this much at one time for any of the four boys.
I would say the most special "random act of kindness" was when the IRS came and took all of the money out of my bank account in 2009. They waited until my work check went through and snatched it. I've been over and under, but I had never seen my bank account at zero. I found out while I was in line at Kroger's. The lady was SO nice. She kept my food to the side while I called my bank account to see what was going on. And then when I put everything on my credit card since we had to have diapers, she personally took my groceries out while I was crying my eyes out. She's one of the managers at that store and while I think her boss is kind of a jerk, I go to Kroger now because of her. I imagine if she quits, I will go somewhere else, because it isn't the prices that keep me there.
Another awesome act of kindness came later that week. A co-worker dropped off a couple hundred dollars at my house. I told her I wanted to pay her and the others at my work that chipped in--when I got money back I didn't want to "owe" anyone anything. She wouldn't tell me who gave the money. I hardly ever see her anymore but she literally saved the lives of my family in a significant way... the IRS had done this in December, thereby insuring there wouldn't be presents for anyone!
Actually, for every [bad word] at my work, there is an equal amount of people who have lifted me up and inspired me to do better.