The kindness of strangers

Yesterday I experienced kindness from a stranger. I had a project that I needed help with at my house, and a woman that I did not know was recommended to me as someone who could help me. She came, she did help me, and she left. And I will probably never see her again. She did not take money for her actions. She just helped me.

I also had an opportunity to help someone yesterday, who, although not a complete stranger to me, is little more than an acquaintance. An older woman that I know only slightly is moving out of her home to an apartment, and some mutual friends arranged a work party to help her with the final clean out of the house. I went over and scrubbed bathrooms and kitchen counters, spent three hours of Saturday doing chores that were not fun, but were helpful to someone who needed the help. And I had the ability to give it.

Both experiences were good. I felt good to give help, and I was humbled to receive it, so graciously given. I like to think that I am a kind person. I am very polite and frequently go out of my way to make small talk with people or reach out to show an interest in others’ lives. But I am often too busy to do the hands on work. I am busy, but so is everyone. I know that I will not be devoting hours each Saturday to some worthy cause. But yesterday was a reminder that now and then, when an opportunity presents itself to go beyond polite words, beyond the easy kindnesses, it’s good to do that.

It was also a reminder that the statement that it is easier to give than to receive is true. It was a little uncomfortable for me to be on the receiving end of kindness, because I am so used to being self-sufficient. Not that I never need help. But I rarely feel the need to ask for it…I pay for what I need, or work out an exchange of favors, or find a way to do it myself. Receiving help from a stranger, someone whom I can’t repay, drives home the point that kindness, just for it’s own sake, is valuable. It makes the world a better place…the phrasing may be trite, but the reality is not. I find, once again, that the lessons that are repeated so often in life are not the ones that we don’t know: they are the ones that we don’t practice enough. So I’m going to try to be more observant, more open to opportunities to do more, speak less. Words are easy, and although there is comfort in words, there is value in doing. It’s been a while since I took a meal to someone or stepped out of my busy-ness to do more than offer words. But I can surely find time to incorporate a little selflessness in the midst of all the busy-ness of life, and the reward is simply the feeling of making a difference.

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2 thoughts on “The kindness of strangers

  1. Sheila, thank you for the reminder that our actions really do often speak louder than our words. So while it is good that we have hearts that love others, it is even better when our loving hearts are put into action with hands of service. No wonder I like the heart in hand symbol…”Hands to serve Him. Hearts to love Him.” May we continually strive for the perfect combination of both.

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    • Thank you Ann. I know you are a selfless servant, between all the caring you give to the children in your care (and your own, of course!) and all the kids that you and Doug work with…you are always a great example and encouragement to me. Thanks for reading!

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