This month’s Year of Charity focus is on kindness. Have you learned anything about kindness this month? Do you have any insights you would be willing to share in the comments?
Have you ever seen Facebook explode? Someone posts something controversial and then twenty people get angry and say something rude, and then twenty other people come to the defense of the person who posted in the first place. Before you know it, complete strangers are calling each other nasty names, seven people have been unfriended, and family members aren’t talking to each other. The political climate is really charged right now. Emotions are high, and people are feeling hurt and dismissed. But I had a very positive experience on Facebook just this week. Something was posted that many people did not agree with, but almost all of them decided to treat each other kindly, making it possible for (most) everyone to leave the conversation feeling good and hopefully empathizing with others, even if they couldn’t agree.
I feel that kindness is one of the most important aspects of charity because how we treat others is an accurate reflection of how we feel about Jesus. Jesus said, “As I have loved you, love one another.”
David Bednar said that one of the greatest indicators of righteous character “is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress. Therefore, character is demonstrated by looking, turning, and reaching outward when the instinctive response of the natural man in each of us is to turn inward and to be selfish and self-absorbed.”
One of my favorite relationship books is Bonds That Make Us Free by C. Terry Warner. In that book, Dr. Warner says, “Who we are is how we are in relation to others.” If we are grumpy with others or curt or impatient, that is who we are. On the other hand, if we are kind, loving, and forgiving of others, that is who we are.
COVID has been hard for all of us. But I have truly been struck with the idea that just because I’m going through something hard doesn’t mean I don’t have to treat people with kindness. In fact, I should be kinder because everyone I meet is fighting a battle. COVID makes things even harder because we can’t see people’s faces, and they can’t see ours. Are they smiling at us under that mask, or scowling? The checker at the grocery store, the kid who bags our food at the drive-thru, or the clerk at the bank all need our kindness, especially since they can’t see our smiles. I hope that we will all choose kindness over selfishness, just as Jesus always did.
Here is a list of small acts of kindness you can do today. I got this list from here.
- Give a coworker a compliment.
- Give a stranger a compliment.
- Pick up some litter.
- Do a charity run.
- Serve at a soup kitchen.
- Thank a teacher or mentor with a surprise gift.
- Send a letter to a good friend instead of a text.
- Offer to give a coworker a ride home.
- Send a list of things you admire in a colleague.
- Pay for the coffee order of the person behind you in line.
- Take your sibling out for some fun.
- Buy instrument lessons for your parents.
- Leave a positive sticky-note on a co-worker’s desk.
- Bring sweet treats to work.
- Send your mother flowers.
- Plant a tree.
- Help someone with a flat tire.
- Do more chores without someone asking you.
- Participate in or hold a fundraiser.
- Help a neighbor with their groceries.
- Shovel a neighbor’s driveway when it snows.
- Put your phone away completely during a conversation.
- Prepare a meal for your work team.
- Babysit for free.
- Take someone on a random adventure.
- Send a care package.
- Make someone a playlist they would enjoy.
- Bring someone a souvenir from a trip.
- Volunteer at an animal shelter.
- Send dessert to another table.
- Let someone behind you at the grocery store go in front of you.
- Bring flowers to a nursing home.
- Leave a very generous tip.
- Pick up a nail off the road.
- And lastly, treat yourself for no reason–you deserve kindness too.