Sunday, March 08, 2009

A Little Bit of Kindness Goes a Long Way

For Lent this year, I decided not to give anything up.

Nope. I'm still eating chocolate, and drinking sweet tea; I still find myself gossiping a little bit and being a bit too sarcastic.

Instead, I'm "taking something up."

I've decided to practice kindness in as many ways as I can, as much as I can, everyday.

Webster's Dictionary defines kindness as "practicing a nice deed," or "the quality or state of being kind or pleasant."

I'm dedicating myself to doing an actual "act of kindness" once a week...something that is planned-ahead, and intentional, and involves some foresight. (I'm doing one of them tomorrow, and am excited to see how it goes.)

But in between those bigger moments, I'm trying to be kind in the little ways too.

Just today I was coming out of the grocery store and found an elderly woman unpacking her groceries into her car. She looked tired and weak and all it took from me was a simple, "Can I take your cart back to the store for you?" She smiled and said thank you. I returned her cart, walked back to my car, and there she was, still getting along pretty slowly... settling herself down into her driver's seat. She gave me a little wave and said, "Thank you so much," again to me.

This little act...so small, so simple...brought a smile to my own face and a little lilt to my heart.

How often do we not do those things that we should be doing? Those little acts of kindness that might make more of a difference to someone else than we can ever know?

Things like...

* opening a door for someone
* letting someone walk under your umbrella when an unexpected rainstorm comes up
(I was the recipient of this just last week. I was at Delaney's All State Choir practice when a deluge just happened out-of-the-blue. Sydney and I were caught without an umbrella, until a woman came up and offered to walk us to our car. It was a good distance away from our own car, but she just offered her help willingly and with a smile on her face. She said goodbye with a, "You have a blessed day," and I truly felt blessed because of her kindness.)
* asking a cashier how she's feeling
* giving someone a compliment
* telling your child your proud of her
* taking your spouse a drink (unasked for)
* calling a parent just to tell them you love them
* helping someone with their groceries
* treating a stranger to a cup of coffee
* taking an elderly neighbor their mail
* telling someone "Thank you"

The poet William Wordsworth once said:
"That best portion of a good man's life is his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love."

And probably my favorite quote from Mother Teresa is this one:
"We can do no great things. Only small things with great love."

I may not think that the things I'm doing are "great." But if I'm doing them out of love and kindness...with good intentions...with the idea that I am helping someone else...then those small deeds can, truly, become great.

18 comments:

Adrienne said...

Awwww how wonderful Cheryl!! What a great thing to "take up"!

Monogram Queen said...

Wonderful wonderful Cheryl! I always try my best to "be kind" and I hope my little one picks up on that.
Don't forget to be kind to yourself as well!

Edleen said...

this is wonderful Cheryl :)
kindness heals our hearts. a simple deed does go a long way!

love this topic and wish you a Great Week!

Cheryl Wray said...

Adrienne--It seems sorta simple, but it's actually sort of tough to be intentional about it. I wanted to do something different for Lent, and I'm really liking it.

Queen--I know that you are a wonderful example of kindness to your family. And you're right...it's important to be kind to ourselves too. (Believe me I am...I give myself lots of wine and bubble baths. LOL)

Ed--You are SO right. Kindness goes a long way. I hope you have a wonderful week too!

Danielle said...

Cheryl...you are such a sweetie!!! and that list is fantastic :)

I try to be kind as much as I can, but this list will certainly help and refresh me :D

Anonymous said...

Awesome post, Cheryl. i will try and do my best today.

Marg

Ms.L said...

Aww what a great reminder!
On pay day,I think I'm going to take out some fives and plant them in library books with a sweet note
for people to find:) I've always wanted to do that!

Cheryl Wray said...

Danielle--YOU are a sweetie too! Don't you think we all need a little reminder sometimes?

Marg--I know you will!

Ms. L--Okay, what an AWESOME idea is that! I may have to try that one too.

Lynilu said...

I like that.

:)

Heather Prins said...

Thanks for the reminder Cheryl!

hippo chick said...

Cheryl,

I love it. We should all do that. I hope you will do a post on your "acts of kindness" once Lent is over.

My devotional time has been great and very precious to me.

~hippo hugs~

Heather said...

Cheryl,

I think what you are doing is wonderful! Keep up the wonderful work!

Hugs,
Heather

Kathy said...

What a wonderful thing to do for Lent. I think I will try this too! Thank you for sharing your idea with us!

Gretchen said...

This is wonderful, Cheryl, and it also just reminds me to mind my manners. The clerk behind the desk doesn't need to have her day impacted by the schtuff I'm dealing with in mine. Super post.

Cheryl Wray said...

Lynilu-- :-)

Heather--We all need a reminder sometime, don't we?

Hippo--I will definitely do a post sharing the "act of kindness" I do. I'm actually still trying to think of the last two I'm going to do.

Heather--You're so sweet and encouraging. Thanks!

Cheryl Wray said...

Kathy--I'm glad this post inspired you to do something similar.

Gretchen--I often think the same thing. I need to do my best to not make some cashier or waiter's day any rougher. :-)

Becca said...

Oh what a beautiful wonderful post! I love it - what a great idea!

Sandy M. said...

Thanks for the challenge.. I love the idea of taking up something instead of
"giving up" something (which is often just something that we really should have already given up or something that we don't miss that much...) I am going to make a real effort to bless a stranger's day every day, which should then become a good habit.