So many times I have thought of a gesture that I should do for someone and time has slipped by and the deed is never done. A neighbor loses an aging parent; I should make dinner for them. Three weeks later the thought brings guilt… Oh I should have made dinner for them, but too much time has passed. The same process happens with the encouraging card that I meant to send, but didn’t. That simple note of encouragement that might have brought a smile to their face, but procrastination got the better of me. What was so much more important in my schedule than the few minutes to jot down a few positive words and stick it in the mail?
But I also know that “too much time has passed” is a terrible excuse for not following through. I received cards in the mail months, even a year, after Wendy and Shelby passed away, and every one of them reminded me that I was loved, not forgotten. It wasn’t a delay in a response, but a comfort to know that others were thinking and praying for me all those months later.
The blessing of showing kindness in a small or grand gesture never leaves me empty handed. Even still, there are days when I don’t manage these small acts. “Busyness” gets the better of me. Oh how many blessings I am missing out on! It is a joy to know another person may have a better day, or be kinder to the next person they meet – a simple act may be just what so many – myself included – need.
Have you ever run in to an old friend or a classmate at the grocery store and felt so good after having a hug and a chat? Why do we wait for that “bump into” encounter? A card is nice, but even a private message on FaceBook helps us stay in touch. A brief text message from a distant friend who took a few minutes to say “hello” can feel like an embrace. It reminds me I am loved and I am blessed to have people in my life who take even just a minute to stay connected with me, especially at a time when I feel disconnected from life, due to all of its busyness.
I do think “busyness” is becoming a problem: work, house cleaning, errands, kid’s sports, church activities … but those aren’t going to stop. After all, they do bring joy to me and my family. But I can change the way I approach that busyness. I can put love and kindness at the center of it. Those times I feel that tug at my heart or nudge in my back to make a difference for someone, I can act on it. And when I do “Act in Kindness,” the warmth in my own heart can even outweigh the gesture itself.
For my family, February 8th is a day of remembering the 33 years of Wendy and 8 years of Shelby that we had. Through this project, the day has been transformed from one of sadness to one of honoring and celebrating those years of their love and kindness. This year my personal focus for the Act in Kindness project is to remember to be kind; everyone is busy, many are tired and feel disconnected, some are fighting their own difficult battles that are beyond comprehension. While it won’t solve everything, perhaps buying a stranger a cup of coffee, letting someone go ahead of me in the store, or simply smiling at people who cross my path will make someone else’s day a bit brighter, a bit easier, and be just what they need to keep their chins up.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson