Did you know that there is a layer of dense fat that surrounds all the nerve fibers running through our central nervous system? That supportive layer is called myelin. It acts as a coating or covering for the nerves, much like the rubber or plastic coating we find wound around electrical wiring. It prevents the impulses from leaking out and strengthens the result.
The amazing thing is, it thickens as we practice a skill. The more we do something, the thicker the coating and the better we are at that activity. That’s why Steph Curry does 100 three-point shots before every game. He is thickening up that myelin so his body just performs seamlessly from memory. Swish.
In the Old Testament, when Daniel was faced with a major ethical decision regarding eating choice meats that had been offered to idols, Daniel 1:8 says, “Now Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine…”
That word translated “resolved” might be rendered, “purposed,” “rehearsed,” or “practiced.”
I believe Daniel was able to resist that spiritual temptation because there was a pattern to his life. He practiced making similar good decisions. So, when the time came, it wasn’t hard to make another one.
Paul told the church at Ephesus to be kind to one another (Eph. 4:32). Kindness is an attitude. It is a choice. It is a decision. Kindness is displayed first in our thoughts. It comes out as we speak. It is revealed when we act.
Kindness can and should be repeated over and over again. We just need to build up the myelin around our hearts and practice kindness.
Take a second and bring to mind someone who irritates you. Perhaps it is a co-worker or member of your family. Instead of reinforcing the irritation, let’s practice building up a spiritual mindset.
What kind thought could you offer yourself instead of the biting one that came so quickly to mind? Is there a word of encouragement you might share with them? Could you compliment them on something simple?
Now we are building up the myelin. Let’s go further and figure out something that we could actually do that might make their day. Is there an act of kindness that might sweeten the situation or warm the relationship? Could you leave a kind note? Bake them a treat? Do a chore for them?
Being kind takes practice. If we start out being very intentional about our attitudes, thoughts, words and actions soon they will be much more automatic. Pretty soon our kindness will be instinctive. Swish. Done.
Practice. Practice. Practice.