From this day Fanny grew more comfortable. She felt that she had a friend, and the kindness of her cousin Edmund gave her better spirits with everybody else. ~ Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Sometimes the best thing we can offer to someone in whose sadness or bad temper we cannot comprehend is kindness—especially when they are not capable of being, at first, kind to us. Edmund doesn’t wait for Fanny to show him kindness to extend a hand of friendship to her. He first extends the hand and then is rewarded with her loyal friendship in return.

Fanny, here, reminds me of Luna Lovegood. Luna was a loner with very few friends. And, lets face it, she wasn’t good at reaching out to others and connecting. Rather it is the reaching in of Ginny and, eventually, Harry that brings Luna into friendship with her schoolmates. And she becomes a truly loyal and devoted friend.

Rather than judge people who withdrawal from us or seem surly or unwilling to initiate kindness, why don’t we reach out to even the grumpiest person with gentleness and care? Why don’t we be kind first when we desire another’s kindness, rather than waiting and expecting kindness to be extended to us first? I’m not saying all such extensions will lead to friendship, but if we expect others to be perpetrators of kindness, we must first be a perpetrator of such behavior.

A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself. ~ Proverbs 11:17 ESV

Even God doesn’t expect us to be kind to him without him first being kind to us. Even in Genesis, when Adam and Eve go against him and follow the serpent, he still helps them. He still makes them clothes and throughout Genesis visits with them and helps them on their way. And then, even though he gave us the Law and instructed us to obey and we didn’t, he still didn’t condemn us. Rather he sent his son to step in for our disobedience. To pay all our debts for our wrong doings so the we could still have the hope and knowledge and security of everlasting life in Him and a personal relationship with Him.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. ~ Ephesians 4:32 ESV

Kindness is something we give before we ever receive. Next time I complain that someone is not being kind to me, Lord, remind me to be kind to them anyway. To reach out a helping hand to them even if they never reach out their hand to me. Help me to be more like you, who loved me even before I loved you.