She had an unfair advantage because I wore an employee related name tag, but I didn’t even know her name. We’d had what amounted to a briefer than brief conversation a couple days before. But today, she obviously needed to talk because my simple “Hi, there,” resulted in a ten minute conversation about difficult personal stuff—a judge’s ruling, the realities of divorced parenting, and the pain of separation.
My mind already spun with the details of the full day ahead of me. I didn’t have time for a lengthy conversation. At first I inched away but pretty soon, I stopped moving. All she needs is someone to listen.
Relief washed through me when she mentioned crying out to God that He would provide a way through what she could only see as an impossible situation. In fact after a night of prayer and soul searching, she felt His guidance directing her toward what only yesterday she would not have considered. And she was okay with it—she could see the possibilities. God in His infinite wisdom knew what her humanness could not comprehend, and His all-encompassing grace and power had begun to mold her will to His.
I didn’t have answers for her tough situation, but I could tell she wasn’t expecting me to. All she needed was someone to listen.
Throughout the day, other random occasions came to mind. Times when I was in the right place at the right time to reach out to someone. Today, my racing mind put aside the details of the day and made a conscious effort to listen. But that wasn’t always the case. I wonder to which side the scale would tip to if I could look into the past and weigh when I took the time to be there for someone versus the times I insisted on being too busy to care. I’m pretty sure the results wouldn’t make me feel good.
We set aside, in an obligatory sort of way, a week to do nice things for people –Random Acts of Kindness week which fell on February 10-16 this year. I’m not sure I realized the yearly observance was happening at all. I was probably too busy, trying to burn the candle at both ends and somewhere in the middle too. But that’s not how I want to live… missing the chances to love on people.
I want to be a person who doesn’t miss opportunities to be kind, to be a listening ear, to just be there. Someone who will sense a need—you know, not have to be knocked over with a bulldozer—and take the time to do something. And not just that one week each year.
There’s nothing wrong with a national observance. It raises awareness and prompts intentional consideration. A lot of people probably extend the acts of kindness for at least a little while. Like the way the “drive-thru difference”, the act of paying for the order of the car behind you, has caught on. People have been blessed—both the givers and the receivers.
But what if we practiced a random acts of kindness life? What if, each day, we chose to go out of our way to assist or befriend or hug someone? What if we looked closely at the people who cross our path? What if we took the time every day to care?
I can only imagine how that much looking out for others would impact the world. You see, if lots of people are keeping their ears and eyes open to the needs of others, there would have to be a lot less time for “me, me, me” thinking.
I hereby pledge to be intentional about seeking and finding random opportunities to practice kindness. Will you join me?
What’s the nicest random act of kindness you’ve experienced?