“I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.”
-Unknown, but attributed to C.R. Gibson
This little poem popped up as a “memory” in my Facebook feed this weekend. I shared it last year for the Light The World campaign and, hey, it’s #LightTheWorld again, so I’ll share it again because I love it. I’ve recently spent time thinking about kindness as three experiences gave me cause to pause.
Kindness from others
Some of you have read my “house” blogs wherein I have complained about the vortex in the neighborhood that sucks leaves from everywhere and deposits them in my driveway or on my front lawn. Some of them actually are from my tree, but it really can’t be dropping THAT many.
I’ve mostly kept up with the leaves along the way this year. But leaves continue to fall all the time, of course. Much to my surprise, when I arrived home from work a few weeks ago, I discovered all the leaves in my front yard were gone. There were clear lines of a lawn mower having passed over the lawn which had sucked/mulched all the leaves away. Someone had come over and cleared my leaves that day. I literally started crying at how grateful I was. It’s actually not a big deal for me to rake the leaves. And I usually count it as my “exercise” because I’m exceedingly lazy in the fall/winter. But it wasn’t just the leaves…it was that someone noticed and someone cared and someone found a way to reach out to extend kindness. I didn’t deserve it and there are many, many more people who need more help than I do. I know I can certainly do it on my own. But I was SO GRATEFUL. It meant a lot to have someone reach out. (And yes, I found out who it was because some people are just not sneaky enough for my detective skills.)
Kindness from God
Last week was a bit of a doozy at work. You know those weeks? Where you just can’t even? Toward the end of the week, I was already past the point of frustration when someone messed up a project which caused me extra work and added frustration. And…I was not kind in how I handled the situation. So me being me I spiraled into a pit of how stupid I am for not handling the situation better.
I was in such a mood. But I kept praying to Heavenly Father to help me kick it and get back in a good place. (and figure out a way to ask for forgiveness).
Thankfully, that evening, I was unexpectedly asked to watch my nieces and nephew. They came over and we had so much fun playing together. (Ironically, they wanted to play the game of “Life”. I wanted to tell them it’s not all that great to really play “life”, but I joined the game instead. Besides, in that “life” I got married, had 2 sets of twins, and was a pro athlete…so I really can’t complain). My nieces and nephew were an answer to prayer. They cheered me up and reminded me of the good things in life.
The point? I did NOT deserve that kindness from God. I hadn’t been kind to others that day and there was no reason for him to answer my prayer for someone to be kind to me. But He did answer. And He extended His kindness even when I didn’t deserve it.
Extending kindness to others
You know those people at the store who talk to the cashiers and get into a conversation and make your wait in the line longer? Well…I’m one of those people. I love talking to people, asking how their day is going, and hopefully helping them feel a little bit better about life and more connected to people.
This past weekend, I had to return and exchange a few things at a local retail store. I chatted with two cashiers while there. Both of the cashiers were working their second job that day. They had just gotten off their first jobs and had come to that one. That’s their normal routine–2 jobs a day. One has 2 kids and another on the way. The other is a young gal just trying to get by.
The lines were long and many were frustrated with how slow things were going. And I spent time chatting. Note: When you chat with the cashiers, they do actually slow down a bit as they talk and share. And I like that. Sorry to those behind me in line. 🙂
It didn’t really cost me anything in those moments to chat with a stranger and ensure they were having an OK day. It didn’t cost me anything to extend empathy and compassion. I have worked two and even three jobs before (not full-time on all, so I don’t fully understand), but many of us have been there. And it makes a difference when people are kind.
I have so often been offered kindness from God and from others, and I feel a need to return that kindness wherever I can. Even when we or others may not always be “deserving” of kindness, we all need it. We crave it and we are benefited by it.
I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from President Howard W. Hunter that reminds me of how to be more kind, especially at Christmas. Kindness is the gift I want to give this Christmas.
“This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again” (Howard W. Hunter, The Gifts of Christmas, First Presidency Christmas Devotional, December 2002).