The United States is one of only a few countries in the world that sets aside one day a year to celebrate acts of kindness. February 17th this year was “Random Acts of Kindness Day”.
I don’t have anything against Random Acts of Kindness Day, it’s kind of fun. But as Christians, we have lived for centuries with an age-old call to serve our neighbor. So the urgency to be kind should be so rooted in our souls, that having a day set aside for it should seem…redundant. Kind of like “National Chocolate Day”. Why? Why do we need that? (Every day is chocolate day at my house.)
But performing loving acts of kindness is a little more challenging than loving chocolate, isn’t it? There are a lot of reasons why that’s true, but I can think of three. Three reasons that hold us back from reaching out to others.
Loss of Control
When we step out to help someone else, we’ve lost control. There’s no way of knowing how that offer of help will be accepted, so we get a little nervous and start second guessing ourselves.
“If I run ahead and open that door for her, will she think I’m weird?”
“Well, I’d make a pan of brownies for them, but does everyone like brownies?”
I can say with confidence that no one thinks an open door is weird. Brownies? Everyone loves those. Believe me, that’s just nerves talking.
The Big Picture
Instead of figuring out what can be done, we’re blinded with the giant problem. Nothing I do will make a difference. Why even try?
Sometimes situations are overwhelming, but doing something small can be huge. When my dad died, my church friends provided food and drink for my family at the wake. Did it take away all the pain of loss? No, but we felt so loved, and so relieved to have that one chore done.
A friend told me that she was afraid to ask God what he wanted her to do. She didn’t want to volunteer in Venezuela, or move to New York to work in a soup kitchen. God might ask her to do something too big, and it worried her.
Well, this is what Mother Teresa of Calcutta said about that, when she was asked, “What can we do? How can we make a difference like you?”
“Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right where you are – in your own homes – in your own families – in your workplaces and in your schools.”
Kindness doesn’t have to go to another country or state to serve. The needs of those around us, in our families and communities are just as immediate as the ones overseas or in another state. My friend had nothing to fear.
Together we can be the hands and spirit of kindness in our families and communities. Today would be a great day to start.
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