No act of kindness ever is wasted
Several years ago, I had a serious bout with shingles. At first, I thought I had an infected bug bite on my hairline, not unusual in Maine during the summer.
When I awoke the next day, blisters covered the right side of my face from my cheekbone up several inches into my hair.
I later found out this is the calling card of shingles.
I have a high tolerance of pain but having shingles had to be one of the most painful experiences I have ever had.
Because this disease attacks the nerves, my doctor was concerned for my eyesight, because the optic nerve is present within the area affected.
Over the next several weeks, I had multiple doctor’s appointments including eye specials. Several physicians opened their offices outside of regular business hours to help me.
There was even one ophthalmologist who drove 50 miles to meet me at a local eye clinic. Many people from work volunteered to drive me to appointments.
The kindness of so many people was humbling and touched me. Even after so many years, I still feel a wave of gratitude within.
This experience and multiple others confirm for me that people can be kind. These days, however, as I watch, read and listen to newscasters, politicians, activists and many in the public, my conviction that people know how to be kind is shaky.
It’s not that I think people no longer know how to be kind, but maybe many of us have forgotten how.
Kindness comes from the Middle English word, kindenes, which means “courtesy.” We all want others to treat us with kindness and what we term “common courtesy.”
For some of us fortunate enough to have parents who raised us by modeling and requiring this behavior, kindness becomes reflexive.
Today we are so bombarded with the negative aspects of peoples’ behaviors, those negative actions are becoming an expected characteristic of society.
Kindness seems to be the “exception” rather than the “rule”.
For example, one day I was walking out of a store at the same time as a man in his late 20s.
He held the door for me, and I smiled at him and said, “Thank you.”
The man seemed agitated and as
I made eye contact with him, he said, “On the way into this store, I held the door for a woman and she snapped at me and told me she didn’t need my help to get in and out of a store.”
I nodded and said quietly, “I’m sorry she said that. Your kindness is very much appreciated by me.” He smiled for the first time and said, “Thank you for telling me.”
This young man’s kindness was a gift he gave and is one of four reasons we should be kind to others.
- Kindness is a gift you can give others.
Sometimes we think gifts are only things we purchase but we can give others gifts that cost little to nothing monetarily; the price for these gifts comes in other forms.
When someone drops something and you stop what you’re doing to help pick it up, the cost of the kindness is minimal.
This same example of kindness does not always have the same price, however.
One day, when I was on middle school lunch duty (a very interesting and challenging duty as a teacher), I saw a girl no one liked drop her lunch tray in front of everyone.
There was a brief hush that descended upon the cafeteria and then, one boy got up and slipped over to help the girl pick up the mess.
The cost of his kindness was higher because his peers teased him afterward.
2. We should be kind to others because we do not know others’ circumstances.
I read a story several years ago about a village whose people were tired of dealing with their problems.
They decided, as a group, to hold a Great Problem Exchange, an event where they would write their burdens on paper and hang them on lines the mayor would string across the square.
After this, the mayor would have everyone stand back and upon the signal, villagers would rush out to the papers and grab anyone else’s problems for their own.
The day of the Great Problem Exchange came with much anticipation. The villagers wrote and hung them on the lines, rushed in and read over the problems listed on each paper.
An unusual thing happened, after careful consideration of all the villagers’ problems, each person grabbed their own problems back.
We rarely know what burdens people around us carry. Being kind can help ease these burdens instead of adding to them.
3. The Bible teaches we should be kind to others
The Bible commands God’s people be kind.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32 (NIV)
This admonition is not optional. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35 (NIV)
Kindness reflects the way God graciously treats us.
4. Being kind can give you a better life.
Kindness has the power to ease conflict and helps ensure disagreements do not escalate. Kindness does not require you be a doormat and let people walk all over you.
You can learn to set boundaries and disagree in a kindly manner. It may be necessary to take a step back from the situation first, but kindness is a choice in difficult situations and not a reaction.
Again, the attitudes we project to other people are often those we receive.
This gift of kindness also benefits us. Acts 20:35 says, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive.”
When we are kind, there is self-satisfaction and often the gratitude of others. It is better to be known for your kindness than your divisiveness.
Being kind is powerful.
Any time we can be kind to others, we are making our lives and those around us a little better.
Kindness is a dignified and potent choice when interacting day by day with others.