I was not having a good week, and it was only Wednesday. I was exhausted after our spring break travel and the daylight savings time change. I felt like my to-do list was growing disproportionately. I’d barely avoided another car who didn’t yield to my green light that morning before my appointment for a repair estimate for the rear end collision I’d endured the month before. And events in the world felt heavy, so very heavy. I felt like a balloon about to pop.
Before I proceeded to do my grocery shopping, which I’d been putting off, I looked around the clothing section to further delay the inevitable chore. I tried on a jacket and frowned at my image in the mirror when an older gentleman walked by and called out, “Looks good!” In that moment, I felt my spirits lift just a little. It was as if I’d been holding my breath like that tight balloon and instead of popping, I could exhale. I responded with thank you as he kept walking, not so much for what he’d said, but because he’d taken a moment to be kind. He didn’t know me at all, but he spoke kindness into my day, nonetheless. Nothing about the circumstances in the world or the hassles I’d encountered changed, but that man interrupted my thoughts and got me out of my own head where I’d been dwelling on the negative.
As a society, we talk about random acts of kindness and how we should teach our children to choose kindness, but doing those little things is not always so easy. I’ve chosen not to give someone a compliment because I worry it might feel awkward. Or worse, I feel a twinge of jealousy that another woman looks better, so I don’t tell her I like her outfit or her hair. Comparison can quickly be the killer of kindness. Insecurity may win the day instead of generosity of spirit.
Quoting the Old Testament, Jesus said the greatest commandment was “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:30-31). But when I’m stingy with kindness, I fail to follow these commandments. When I find myself hesitating to share the kind word or do the kind thing for whatever reason, I should ask myself how I would feel if someone did or said the kind thing to me? Would I appreciate the text from a friend checking in? Would it make me feel good if someone told me they thought I looked nice? Would I get a break from my anxieties if someone made a genuine connection with me even if just for a second?
As obvious as it sounds, when we love others, we demonstrate God’s love. We also remind ourselves how it feels to be considered and noticed, to know that God loves us even when we feel unlovable. Jesus could’ve stopped his answer with the first commandment to love God, but he continued with his directive for us to love each other. Let us be kind and show love to one another in the moment and resist the temptation to keep those words of grace to ourselves.