“Kindness is a habit that softens the atmosphere. It is an outgoing of neighbor-love that becomes instinctive, and is often unnoticed even by the person who practices it; yet voices and actions and even thoughts surrounding acts of kindness impart this softening toward others as if it were a benevolent virus, a happy infection that eases everything for everyone…Kindness is a selfless form of thinking that sees a need and meets it, almost by reflex, with no thought of reward. (*J.I. Packard)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32)
I felt the cold wind touch my cheek as I emptied the contents of my trunk onto the pavement. Spring had one more snow shower to deliver and I had one large box to fit into my car before she did! The package looked a lot smaller in the store and was definitely not cooperating with my plan to override the laws of physics. Pushing and turning I pleaded with my new box and just when I’d about given up, a voice lifted up over the parking lot, “Do you need some help there?” It was definitely a rhetorical question asked by a fellow shopper who noticed my predicament. He stopped and with a smile and few calculated shoves loaded my box and closed the trunk! I shook his hand and thanked him, aware that this simple kindness deposited a “soulish” blessing — one that felt like a sweet touch from God.
Kindness is both gentle and powerful! It smells good, feels good and leaves love in its wake. It notices another and offers care.
It springs up from kind deposits that have left their blessings and created love.
Kindness moves outward with intent to bless. It is healing and makes us kinder people. Its touch is disarming and its voice speaks with reminders of things we most need to remember.
“You matter. I see you. I love you. I am here.”
God is kind and when kindness touches us, it helps us touch God. That is why in the wake of kindness we feel lighter even if our burdens have not yet been lifted, and hopeful even in the midst of a storm. Is it any wonder God asks us to be kind and tenderhearted to one another because when we are, we usher people into an experience of His presence.
As I drove away with my new box safely tucked away, I became aware of a blessing that lingered over me. “Is that You, God?” I queried, remembering my morning prayer where I’d asked God to help me feel His presence in my real life. He did … through the kindness of a stranger in the middle of a parking lot! What may seem like a small gesture was a gift that encouraged my heart and helped me feel God touch my real life. It also awakened me to the potential that each day holds to be kind and bless others, to participate in God’s kingdom coming to earth through daily habits that “soften the atmosphere” and usher fellow shoppers into His presence.
“Thank you, Father, for your many kindnesses and for helping me feel your presence today. Create love in me and use me to bring your kindness to others. Amen.”
How about you?
Where did you last experience kindness?
How did it make you feel?
Who in your life offers you kindness?
Are you kind?
Can you feel God in and through acts of kindness?
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*J. I. Packer with Carolyn Nystrom, Guard Us: Divine Leading in Life’s Decisions, )Grand Rapids, Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, 2008), 70)