Kujengana

“You’ll never regret being kind” has been one of my favorite phrases for a few years now. It’s a great saying when you’re happy and feel like being nice, but the phrase is harder to love when you don’t really feel like being kind. But when you really think about it, being kind is always worth it. It’s just better to be the bigger person.

When I went to Tanzania almost two years ago, we prepared for our trip by discussing the word “kujengana.” In Swahili it means “to build each other up.” The saying is in bright red letters across our group’s t-shirt–I still wear mine often. But I didn’t fully understand kujengana, I didn’t fully understand kindness, until I saw what it meant there to truly love others.

If you find yourself feeling bad for the people I met in Tanzania because they’re from a developing country, don’t. Just don’t. They might not physically have much but they have the wealthiest hearts of all. The farmers and schoolchildren I met are so full of love and life; they challenged every previous notion I had about kindness. Kindness is pouring your heart and soul into giving, it is singing and dancing when receiving a profit share, it is waving wholeheartedly at a bus full of strangers whose skin doesn’t look like yours. Kindness is building others up and loving the entire process, even when you are unsure of the outcome.

A needle full of black ink wrote “kujengana” into my skin at the start of 2018 and I’ve been working to live up to that word ever since. Loving others no matter what can get frustrating sometimes. Some people honestly don’t seem worthy of love. But Jesus deems them worthy, and Tanzanian cocoa farmers probably would too. This thought keeps me going, and the writing on my arm reminds me that the point of life is to build others up. We actually find our purpose and build ourselves up in this process.

Yeah, I get it. Kindness can be pretty damn hard sometimes. Kujengana can be too. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned to be true thus far, it’s that you’ll never regret being kind.

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