Have you ever watched a mother encouraging her child to be kind? She might be encouraging her child to use kind words, show good manners, or be considerate in their actions, such as sharing or taking turns.
I believe kindness is a fairly easy thing to do as it is ingrained in us from a very early age and often comes naturally to some degree. However, showing kindness is a choice!
Kindness is an effective part of communicating with others. Some kindness can be easy to extend – a smile or hug, letting someone go before us in a queue, providing a baby wipe in a sticky situation. But some situations require us to give up something in order to be kind…it may be time, money, possessions, our pride, our expectations for the day.
I love the story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus told in the Bible*. It is such an amazing display of kindness. A man is attacked by robbers and left half dead. Two men see him injured and walk past on the other side of the road while a third man stops and helps. He bandages his wounds, puts him on his animal and takes him to the next inn where he pays the innkeeper to care for him until his return.
What an amazing act of kindness the third man displayed. He gave up his time, his supplies, his ride, his money in order to extend kindness to this man in a difficult situation. He chose to make every effort to ensure that the injured man was well looked after.
As much as I would like to be this sort of person, with a big heart and actions to match, the reality is that I can relate to the other two characters in the story who just walked on by. What stopped these men from helping? Were they too busy? Afraid? Convinced that someone else would help instead of them? These reasons have stopped me from helping someone at one time or another. While I have a genuine desire to display kindness in our world, my actions – or inactions – don’t always reflect this.
There is truth in these words of Oscar Wilde, ‘The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.’
Extending kindness is like throwing a pebble into a pond. It creates a ripple effect, touching the lives of other people, inspiring them to do the same. Kindness says to another, ‘your life matters’. In a world where so many feel alone, worthless or just struggling with the day to day, how precious is the act of kindness.
As we identify our own strengths and weaknesses in putting kindness into practice, may we find and refine our best ways to show kindness to others. May we, more and more, become those who create ripples of kindness in our families and communities.
‘Don’t ever feel as if you don’t have enough to give. Even the smallest gesture shows you care and will warm someone’s heart’ Lisa Currie.
* (Luke 10:30-37)