On What Really Ails the World (a few thoughts on love and kindness and some inspiration to help you “lay it down” when this mean world gets to you, courtesy of songwriter Roby Duke)

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

On Ordinary Love

“The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children.” G.K. Chesterton

This quote by the famous writer, philosopher, Christian apologist, and arts critic was part of a meme I saw this morning. The words overlay a nineteenth-century photograph of a very somber-looking family, all dressed up for some occasion.

But the family didn’t look very happy, I thought, for all the extraordinary-ness Chesterton ascribed to them, although I understand that back then when it took a while for pictures to “take,” people couldn’t usually sustain a smile–and Chesterton was likely philosophizing on another theme, suggested by the idea of this family, if maybe from an idealized viewpoint.

For what family for all their appearances is so, well, extraordinary in their relationships?

Every family, like every individual, is a good work in progress, at best.

This is where love comes in.

But we have notions about that, too, not always so ideal, either.

On Hollywood Love

It reminded me of a famous phrase from a Hollywood idea of love. The smitten boy says to his smitten girl “You complete me” (Jerry Maguire, 1996). It sounds good but rings somewhat hollow like the catch-phrase winner from a much earlier movie, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” (Love Story, 1970).

On Extraordinay Love

But here’s my top pick of all time for a definition of any kind of “completed” love whether the love referenced is Hollywood classic, or a spousal, familial, or any other kind of relationship:

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.” – Henry James.

All the “love languages”–another notion popular just now in print if not in film–are transcended by the simple choice to be kind in both ordinary–and extraordinary ways.

(SIDE NOTE: the idea of love languages, although sort of pointing to the idea of the giving part of give-and-take relationsips, in my view, is more a kind of legalistic notion–sorry, fans–as in you do this for me and I will do that for you and that will prove our love.)


what love is that

that does suffer fools

for a moment

–or three hours

on a cross–

for the joy

set before Him…

I mean, who with a kind heart and committment to go with, would NOT want to please the other(s) and not just in some kind of relationship exchange, negotiation sessions unneeded?

Indeed, who would even forego their list of “must haves” for the greater good of helping the other(s) through life’s inevitable disappointments, discouragements, tragedies?

As surmised in the “extraordinary family” of the meme, this might translate to working hard to support the family, cooking meals, cleaning the house, and tending children, and sharing a bit of excess with someone in need who may not even know who was so kind (perhaps all part of Chesterton’s musing, too?).

Especially in this era of meanness, strife, and a divide-and-conquer mentality.

Sadly, however, it often takes a long time to learn (both the giving and recognizing) and perhaps only because of some unkind relationship experiences in our mix–if we take the lessons.

On Eternal Love

So far as I know, there was only one person (“no greater friend”) who was ever born perfectly kind.

And they tortured and killed Him on a cross.

So some sacrifice is involved, though on the mere mortal side, could never be what Jesus suffered on His singular mission as God’s Son to pay the price of our sins–to the  shedding of the last drop of His blood, literally, as a symbol of the life that is only in that blood, spiritually.

A price we could not pay as flawed humans often using our free will to make wrong choices in spite of any good behavior we might also choose.

Yet look how many billions of people over time have been forever changed because of that Friend Who was/is infinitely kind to all, without reserve.*

And consider the power in that, for if evil, also a very powerful force, were to have its way, the race would have been destroyed before it got going.

But God the Father had a better plan.

And God the Son said “Yes”.


Back on terra firma and from my end of the human relationship spectrum, having experienced the good,  bad, beautiful, and sometimes ugly kind of relationship variables common to the race (no matter what snapshots of the good times may reveal), were I to give advice on relationships it would only be two words:

“Be kind.” 

On Our Unloving, Unkind World

We have a very unkind world at present. And that is crux of the biggest problem, in my worldview.

Indeed, “divide and conquer”–the antithesis of kindness–is one of the most ancient and effective of war strategies that has led to the oppression, repression, enslavement, and slaughter of millions over time, and it is rampant today.

It even at length conquers those who conjure it up when they mistake power and money for their own brand of “completeness”…

But running fast back to finish my point: amid the kindnesses, big and small, anonymously given, or heralded on the world’s stage, in addition to all the ordinary and extraordinary kindnesses that unite, heal, restore, and inspire, there is one more.

On Kindness to Oneself

This is not retail therapy, having one’s back rubbed, hearing words of appreciation daily,  or keeping any kind of list of what we need to be happy or to feel loved, but something more along the lines of the words of Adam Gordon:

“Life is mostly froth and bubble,

Two things stand like stone.

Kindness in another’s trouble,

Courage in your own.”

Because kindness is not without cost and, often, courage, too, not only for others but also for oneself.

I mean, who can easily walk away from a deserved desire for vengeance, or, conversely, do something kind for one who wronged us and doesn’t deserve any of it?

And if given–and received–especially in such as this time, what truer love than that nurtured in kindness here in this very troubled world is there, the effects of which can only be a mere shadow of hereafter?

So take a moment today to extend kindness to yourself, too, especially when it can be so hard.

Take a listen for one suggestion right now.

On “(Laying) It Down” When Love and Kindness Grow Dim

In short: ask Jesus for help.

Because, as the featured song-writer Roby Duke puts it: “He will help you work it out.”



*For the all-time greatest and eternally lasting “catch phrase” of the truest of “happily ever after” love, consider: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

For more information on why and how to receive this kind of loving kindness at Jesus’ expense for you and at His invitation, see: ABCs of Salvation 


This entry was posted in Commentaries, end times spiritual survival, GUEST and EMBEDDED FEATURES, most recent posts, salvation by grace, spiritual survival, spiritual transformation, Valentine's Day themed and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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