Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Helping

How to be Kind in a Raging World

Lindsey Smallwood

I’ve been thinking lately about what it means to be kind.

As we get deeper and deeper into this intense political season where passions run high and tempers are quick to flare, I’ve heard a number of people imploring us all to be kind. It seems like good advice on its surface. I strongly believe my social media feed would benefit from more kindness and less outrage.

But what does it mean to be kind in a raging world?

As I attempted to think of a moment my own life to illustrate kindness, I was overwhelmed with so many examples I wasn’t even sure how to pick the best one.

I could tell you about the time my mother-in-law spent two days meticulously cleaning our house after the moving truck came to Berkeley. Using a toothbrush to make things sparkle I didn’t even know were capable of sparkling.

I could tell you about how the friend who brought our family a meal every week for a few months so I could catch my breath in a season of getting adjusted to a new place and managing a small baby and a toddler.

I could tell you about the kindness of the man on the plane a few weeks ago, who moved to a middle seat so that my one-year-old could have his own seat instead of being my lap infant (which is a joke anyway because, at eight months pregnant, I have very little lap and at nearly 22-months-old, he’s hardly an infant).

Even as I started to think of this list, I realized all of us have our own moments and stories where we’ve experienced kindness in important ways. In fact, it might be worth it to think about those for a moment. Really. Close your eyes right there at your phone or your computer and let yourself enjoy it, remembering moments, people and places where you were well cared for, where people were friendly, generous, considerate to you.

I want you to remember what it feels like to receive kindness.

Isn’t it fun to remember?

Doesn’t it make you smile, fill you up, want to tell someone your good story? Remembering how it feels to receive kindness inspires me to want to practice more of it in my life.

And that’s what kindness is, it’s a practice. Kindness is a quality of the heart, it’s something we need to be. But in addition to being – kindness is something we do.  Kindness invites us to action.

At it's root, kindness means to be useful. To see a need and meet it. To look for ways to be helpful.

We can do that. As Christians we can be kind because we’ve all received such kindness from God, whose kindness moved Him to give us Jesus, that we might know God and enjoy Him forever. Jesus shows one piece of kindness.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.” Luke 6:35

We’re not kind to get kindness, we’re kind because the Holy Spirit is shaping us into people who are more like Jesus. Jesus showed us kindness even when we could have cared less, even when we treated Him with contempt. His kindness is what leads us to repentance, his practical love helps us understand a God who created us to be kind to each other.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind. Look for the places in your everyday life where you can be useful. It could be as small as holding the door and as big as giving away something that really matters to you. It’s the Jesus way, and it might just change this loud and fearful world, one kind act at a time.

 

This post originally appeared at Middle Places.

Turning Around {Maeve Rafferty}

Lindsey Smallwood

Hi - Lindsey here. So excited to bring you a new voice on the blog today. Please welcome Maeve who is sharing a story about something out of the ordinary she experienced recently. I loved reading how God used Maeve's tender heart to notice someone who needed noticing. I think you'll love it too. 


His parents must’ve forgotten to pick him up from practice. Simple mistake. We all forget things.

I hoped that was the case.

We drove past because we had somewhere we needed to be. I think that happens a lot.

I drive past, look away, keep my eyes on the traffic light, rather than the person - the person, like you and me - asking for help by my window. Sometimes, I'll give a Gatorade or granola bar and drive on with an aching heart.

But eventually, we move on right?

We move on and let go of that man or woman holding a sign.

We let go of the man who offered to shovel snow off our front stoop. We let go of the woman we made eye contact with and smiled who then yelled curse words at us. Sweet woman, I know you didn't mean it.

Truth is, I have trouble letting go. I'm sure you do too. Their faces and wrinkles and eyes stick to the fabric of my clothes and I can't shake them.

I told Matt we should turn around - he looked so young.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't scared to turn around. There is enough happening in our world to choose fear over faith. But fear is paralyzing, isn't it?

We looped around at the light and turned into the small parking lot.

I asked if he was okay.

He said he was - he just needed a ride to West Virginia.

"Is that home?"

He was from Massachusetts, making his way cross-country. He needed to clear his head, to find himself, to get away for a while.

"Does your family know you’re here?"

It was a bold, intrusive question but I couldn't help it. I couldn't believe this young boy was using his two feet and strangers to get to California, alone.

"Have you eaten today?"

"I drank water and ate oranges."

We pulled into a gas station and I insisted he get something - anything really. I kept pushing subs loaded with turkey and cheese. Reluctantly, he grabbed a small sandwich.

"I don't want to spoil myself." It was as if he thought he didn’t deserve a $2 sandwich. 

The nearest town was 15 minutes away. So we drove, all the while asking him questions.

"Where do you go to school?'

"What are you studying?”

That first town was a quiet, sleepy town. There was no one in sight. So, we drove another 15 minutes.

“I don't think my parents really care that I am doing this. I wish they would. I mean, they know I am headed cross-country but I left out the hitchhiking part."

The next town was a bust too.

"Have people been nice to you? Has anything bad happened?" I know, another invasive question. I hope he knew my heart. I hope he knew I never meant to sound like a judge and he was on trial.

"I wanted to walk to be reminded that people are good. I guess you could say, I sort of lost my faith in humanity."

Matthew and I listened as he shared. I kept forgetting he was so young.

"You know the free hugs campaign? Well, I sort of brought that to my campus. Because, it's like, you never know what people are going through."

I asked him to give us a shout out in his book - the one he should write one day.

I looked over at Matt, his eyes darting around, looking for a safe place to drop him off, though the thought of dropping him off made my stomach hurt.

I scribbled my number on a piece of paper and gave it to him. I told him if he ran into trouble to please call us and we'd come find him.

When we finally made it to Romney, Matt pulled into a Burger King. It felt like we were doing something wrong, like maybe leaving him here was actually illegal.

Invite him to live with you this summer.

Quit your jobs and go with him.

Be his bodyguard.

I know, completely realistic ideas.

I gave him a hug before he left and wondered if the people he gave free hugs to hugged him back.  

We were almost two hours late to our gathering. And while part of me felt rude, I think sometimes we need to make space to be inconvenienced. Sometimes our schedule should be tossed to the side and the only place we need to be is right where we are, in that present moment.

God shows up there - in the unexpected and unplanned. In the times we aren't ready, or don't feel up for it. He can show up and rock our day or flip our whole world upside down.

For me, God showed up in the form of a young boy that needed a ride, a sandwich, and a reminder that people are good.


Maeve Rafferty is a writer, coffee drinker, and people gatherer. She has a heart for missions and travel. She's learning to be more raw and vulnerable and some days, she has to fight for the gratitude and joy. Currently, Maeve lives in Virginia with her sweet husband and they hope to be newlyweds for life. Maeve writes at the wee spoon or find her on Instagram


Lindsey here again. Don't you wish you could have hugged that sweet boy too? Aren't you glad Maeve did? Are you inspired to notice the people you pass by today? Leave Maeve some love in the comments below and go check out her other writing at the wee spoon

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