Grace Notes

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We can be kind...always

By Nancy Kennedy

Recently, I heard about a young dad named Dillon Moore and a Texas dentist, Dr. Kenny Wilstead.
About two years ago, Wilstead randomly came across Moore on Facebook and noticed that he wasn’t smiling in any of his photos and offered to fix his teeth, if that was the reason he didn’t smile.
Moore replied that he couldn’t take off work, and that was that.
Then this past September, Moore had a toothache while at work and his boss sent him to Marshall Family Dental in Marshall, Texas -- the dental office where Dr. Wilstead had his practice.
Wilstead immediately recognized Moore and remembered his offer to fix the young man’s teeth and prepared him for what Moore thought was a simple extraction.
Two hours later, Wilstead handed Moore a mirror -- and Moore started crying.
The dentist had given him an entire “smile makeover” -- brand new teeth -- as a surprise.
Once Moore could speak, he said he hadn’t smiled without his hand covering his mouth since he was a kid and that he never thought such a kindness would ever happen to him.
On Sept. 18, Dillon Moore updated his Facebook profile picture: a photo of his two sons and himself with a nice, toothy smile.
Don’t you love stories like that?
There is kindness in the world, although sometimes it seems rare.
Unkindness seems to be the norm these days.
In this morning’s paper, several of the Chronicle’s Sound Off calls were unkind and unnecessary, or so I thought. Several callers wanted people who say things are better “up North” to do everyone a favor and go back up North because then we’d all be better off.
Another person replied to a previous person’s comment about “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” by saying, “Well, big deal. If I live in a glass house and I want to throw a stone, I throw a stone...and if my glass breaks, it breaks. If I want to repair it, I repair it. If I don’t, I don’t.”
I’ve heard it said that hurting people hurt people. And there’s a Facebook meme that goes, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Another meme says, “Be kind to those who are unkind -- they need it most.”
At church this past week, the pastor talked about revenge, which is never kind.
He said revenge is often our default mode. We like the idea of people getting what’s coming to them, “just desserts” and all.
But that’s not how God’s people are to live, he said, which spoils it for those who like the idea of an “eye for an eye.”
“On the contrary,” writes the apostle Paul, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:20-21).
Wait -- did he say something about heaping burning coals on your enemy’s head?
Sounds like revenge to me.
However, this isn’t about tossing flaming charcoal briquettes at people you hate as they walk by, setting their hair on fire.   
In the ancient world, if the fire in a person’s home went out during the night, before they could cook breakfast, they had to go to a neighbor for a hot coal to relight their own fire.
Paul meant that even if our enemy asks just for one hot coal, we should be generous and fill his or her container, which people customarily carried on their heads.
In that way, our kindness may warm our enemy’s heart and possibly open his or her heart to the God who enables people to be kind, even to their enemies.
I wish I had a neat, tidy way to end this so everyone worldwide will forever be kind from now on. But I can’t change anyone’s heart or mind -- I’m not even sure if I can change my own.
However, I do think kindness is possible as people realize the kindness of God to them -- to us.  
We’re not all dentists who can give people new teeth, but as recipients of kindness we can remember that hurting people hurt people and show them compassion.
We can show mercy, because God has shown mercy to us.
We can forgive, because we’ve been forgiven.
We can overcome evil with good, because Jesus already did it for us with his death on the cross.
We can be kind. Always.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927  or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.