" I need to be kind despite the attitude of others if I am to fulfill my apostolic mission to bring Jesus to the world. "
NORTH BEND — While Lent has changed over the years, the purpose has always been the same: self-examination and penitence, demonstrated by self-denial, in preparation for Easter.

Self-examination can be hard. It’s much easier to find fault in others than in ourselves. I know I can easily get caught up in the “at least I’m better than” attitude.

This year I started my self-examination early and was not happy with what I saw. I have always considered the one fruit of the Spirit that I could rely on is kindness. But over this past year, I have noticed my kindness has been affected. So many of my friends and acquaintances have become angry. Angry over politics. Angry over the pandemic. Angry over having to isolate. And it seems like it is more and more difficult to have a kind conversation with people who don’t think like me, don’t look like me, don’t agree with me. Even those who do agree seem to find something to argue about.

I am challenging myself to get back to being kind. I have started by reviewing what God says about kindness. His words both convict me and encourage me to do better:

“I urge you to live a life worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)

“Love is patient, love is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

“The fruit if the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32)

“As those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

There are so many passages in the holy Scriptures regarding kindness, but none more powerful than this:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son to condemn the world but that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)

The ultimate act of kindness. And Scripture tells us that Jesus he would have done even to save just me. But it wasn’t. It was for all of us who believe in him. And that gives a whole new meaning to kindness.

I am going to use Lent to renew my commitment to being kind. Here are some of the ways I am going to change:

• Add this to my daily prayer: “Lord, help me to treat everyone with kindness, as you have treated me.”

• Look in the mirror every morning and try to see Jesus. If I cannot see Jesus in myself, how can expect others to see him.

• Time myself out from those social media posts and news articles that lead to anger and bitterness.

• Remember what my mother taught me: “Bite your tongue,” and “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all,” and finally, “Treat others as you would like to be treated.” The Golden Rule came from Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

• Realize that we can disagree and still be kind to one another. Remember that one kind word can change someone’s entire day.

I must remind myself that I can still be kind regardless of the attitude of others. In fact, I need to be kind despite the attitude of others if I am to fulfill my apostolic mission to bring Jesus to the world. God is pure beauty and grace and presenting him with an unkind attitude will never attract people to the Kingdom.

One of the challenges of living in isolation is having no accountability. So I am asking you to help me be kinder. Call me out if I respond in an unkind manner. Help me to be a better disciple of Jesus. In fact, let’s help each other become the kind of disciples that will attract others to Christ’s church and the Kingdom of God.

DeLong is director of religious education at Holy Redeemer Parish in North Bend.