Have you ever been on the receiving end of a Small Act of Kindness at just the right time, in a season where you desperately needed God to reach down and touch you or speak to you? Yeah….me, too. In a continuation of our series on Small Acts of Kindness, I want to share with you an experience I had where I was the rather unexpected recipient, and not the giver.
I was in a difficult season a few years ago (and there have been other seasons like that between then and now, tbh) and I was just going through the motions most days. August is a big deal on a college campus and it’s one of my busiest and most stressful times. We usually have a big meeting right before the students return, and there are several hundred faculty there for our division. This particular meeting day, I was overwhelmed with work left to be done, and wanted to be anywhere but in that meeting—too many unchecked to-do list items for this Type A Planner personality—and I wasn’t really all that enthused about having to stand up and be introduced *again* this year. I’m also often the “No” lady in my role, so I feel like that makes me opposite of the most popular gal in the room. But, I went and I smiled, I made small talk, and back to my office I went to get at least some of the things done on my list before afterschool pick-up time for my boys.
A few weeks later, I was at my desk opening my mail, and inside of one envelope there was a small note attached to some other documents. The note was handwritten, and it came from one of our most prominent faculty members. She is well-regarded on campus and outside of it. We don’t work together directly in our day-to-day operations, but we know each other by sight and name. So, imagine my surprise to read the following:
I was, quite honestly, floored. It made me stop in my tracks, and take a minute to appreciate how meaningful this small hand-written note of recognition is. It was not a grand gesture. It wasn’t a random act. And because of that, it was most certainly incredibly meaningful to me at a time I needed it. God is just good like that. Her attentiveness struck me, maybe not so much in what she said, but that she noticed me and took time to share that she “sees” me. Being a single mom is hard. Being a mom, period, is hard. Being a human, sometimes, is just plain hard. And somedays, frankly, I feel invisible – the routine, while a life-saver, can make opportunities to be truly “me” few and far between. I know God loves me, and hears me, and see me. But sometimes it’s nice just to know that some of the other people we share this blue marble with do, too.
“Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my [sister], for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people” (Philemon 1:7 NLT).
Kindness, in this way, produces seeds of soul-level joy, something I desperately needed then (and now), and something God certainly wants for me and you with the rising of the sun each day. We started out 2018 on the SMC Women’s FB Bible Study looking at joy in Philippians. So that leads me to think about how I could cultivate seeds of kindness (and joy, and thereby, hope) in the soul gardens of those around me. I am so task-oriented, generally, that I know I miss opportunities to be present and attentive to those in my sphere of influence. To really “see” people around me. To be aware and attentive. That’s what that little handwritten note spoke to me….to be intentional, to stop and recognize, so those seeds can be scattered around everywhere. Some might actually take root. Now, I admit, I still get caught up in my very own self more often than I should, but I keep that note taped up by my desk at work to remind me how lovely, loving, and kind people can be. I don’t know if this faculty member will ever know how much her note means to me…to be seen and to be honored by her kindness. But I do. Therein is the true gift. And I can be that person for someone else.
“A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart” (Matthew 12:35 NLT).
I pray today that God can show us all more opportunities to be kind, to marvel at those around us with fresh eyes full of the love of Jesus. May we relish in the simple things, and recognize goodness. I pray, too, that He will provide us more opportunities to receive those same acts when we need them most. When He tugs at your heart to show that unexpected kindness, I encourage you to listen and act.
Cheering you on, and thanking God for you,