Monday, October 5, 2015

Kindness Matters

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Colossians 3:12

A few days ago, I was not having the best day. In fact, I was miserable. I'm not a person who gets depressed easily—mostly because God has blessed me so abundantly, not because I am not prone to depression. I always try to look for the positive in difficult circumstances, trust God with the hard things, and be thankful for everything I have and the things that are going right. Whenever I do this, I'm always reminded my blessings far outweigh my trials. I find it pretty difficult to remain depressed for long. It's usually easier to smile and think good thoughts than remain chained by the lies of the enemy that all is lost and things are never going to get better. I know my God is faithful, He loves me, and He works all things together for good.

But on that miserable day, the positive thoughts were not there. I couldn't smile. My heart was breaking too much over the hurts of others. I felt so helpless. It all seemed hopeless. And I was tired of the battle. I just wanted God to fix everything, and that didn't seem to be happening. After feeling discouraged for most of the day, I needed to go grocery shopping. Not my favorite chore, although sometimes it can be relaxing, so off I went with my heavy heart. At least it would give me something else to think about and remind me that while others were hurting, I could give my family nutritious and yummy food; Reminder Number One that kindness matters.

While I was pushing my shopping cart up and down the aisles, something unique happened to also remind me of this. One of the store managers, a woman with pretty red hair and a sweet disposition, was also going up and down the aisles with a scanner. She would point it at various price stickers, it would beep, and she would move on to the next. Several times when I was going up the aisle, she would be coming down the other way, and this continued until I was about halfway through my shopping trip.

My thoughts were still heavy, and I was only mildly aware of her presence. She was busy doing her work and never looked at me that I noticed, until she was scanning an item right near where I needed to grab something from the shelf. I waited for her to step away, and she had to cross my path to do so. But as she did, she turned to me and smiled, seeming to also realize we kept passing each other. I'm not sure if she had seen the downcast look on my face, but I'm thinking she must have because she said, "How are you today? Can I help you with anything?"

I'm used to the employees of the store being polite and friendly. It's one of the reasons I shop there, even if the prices are a bit high, but her tone held a unique quality, as if she knew I wasn't having the best day and wanted to help however she could. Her kindness touched me. Something deep inside that made me smile and believe everything was going to be okay. She had no idea what I was feeling and probably barely thought about me after that moment. But I will remember her kindness.

And that's when it hit me: kindness matters. Those I was grieving over had not been treated kindly, and yet kindness is such an easy thing to give if we just take time to be deliberate about it: a smile, a friendly word of encouragement, a compliment, a gentle answer, a simple act of mercy instead of pointing fingers and bringing shame. Grace instead of rudeness, patience instead of making others feel stupid or in the way, help instead of hurt.

You know what I'm talking about. You've been there. The moment when the kindness of someone else made all the difference. Perhaps your encounters are few and far between, and I'm sure the same is true for others. Just think of the difference your kindness can mean to someone: a family member, a friend, a coworker, a stranger. You may not always see the difference your kindness makes for someone, but they will feel it.  Like the store manager who has no idea she completely changed my perspective, you can do the same. Kindness is powerful. Kindness matters. Love matters.

The fruit of the Spirit is…kindness. (Gal. 5:22)