The Kindness We All Need

A chance conversation at a physics conference turns into a lesson in personal growth.

By Mary Brown

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Every way of a man appears right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the heart. —PROVERBS 21:2 (NKJV)

At a physics conference dinner with my husband Alex, I sat next to a man I'll call Clayton. Clayton dominated the entire conversation by talking about himself. He had solved problems no one else could; only his views were right; other researchers' work was inaccurate or unimportant. Extremely irritated, I planned to avoid Clayton in the future. In fact, I resolved never to have another conversation with him.

Featured Product

Daily Guideposts: 365 Spirit Lifting Devotions for Grandmothers

365 Spirit-Lifting Devotions for Grandmothers

Chosen from the best of Daily Guideposts, these devotions look at all aspects of a grandmother's life.

A few days later I was in an education class. Our professor explained how one child can become the class scapegoat and target of the other students' ridicule.

“Usually it's because the class sees their own weaknesses glaringly magnified in the odd student. They don't want to admit the similarities, so they mock and exclude the student. The behavior of both the class and the excluded student is caused by personal insecurity.”

As I took notes, suddenly I thought of Clayton. It struck me that I have many of the same faults. How easily I dominate a conversation and leave others out. I, too, sometimes feel that only my opinion is right. My concerns or work easily seem most important. As my professor had described, I reacted negatively to someone in whom I experienced my own weaknesses.

I changed my resolution. Instead of avoiding Clayton at future functions, I'll try to listen patiently with the same kindness and acceptance that I need.

Lord, help me to see myself more honestly and other people more positively.