We took the girls to the $2.00 movie theater the other week, and they fell in love with Evan Almighty. In fact, it came out on video, and we purchased it. At the end of the movie 'God' tells Evan about continuing to build ARKs aka. Acts of Random Kindness. Cool acronym! It got me thinking. The Bible tells us to do things for others, but to do them in secret. Matthew 6:1 says "Watch out! Don't do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven." I love the way the NLT translates that. Watch out! Like a big 'Warning! Danger ahead!' sign. Matthew goes on to tell us that the hypocrites want everyone else to notice their good deeds. That is their reward. The praise. The recognition. The attaboys. And they rob themselves of a reward from their heavenly Father.
So.........if we are supposed to do our good deeds in private, how do we become a catalyst for change? After all, no one knows what we have done. How will others be inspired to do acts of random kindness for others? By the actions of those whose lives we touch. Some of my favorite stories are those of someone whose life was forever changed by the actions of a stranger. The story reaches legend status. Sometimes the stranger transforms into a mystical guardian angel as time passes. They saved a life. They helped someone in their greatest moment of need. Sometimes they have changed the course of someones life forever with an encouraging word, or even just a smile when no one else would look their way.
What acts of random kindness do you perform? Sometimes we feel we aren't equipped to change the lives of others. We don't have the time to care for someones children or feed the homeless. We don't have the resources to pay someone else's power bill. And we haven't had an opportunity to rescue someone from a burning building or speeding train. We are over scheduled, overburdened, stressed, exhausted, broke. What do we have to offer?
I believe the greatest acts of random kindness don't take money, or even much time. They are a glance and a smile to the person on the street when you would normally avert your gaze. They are a friendly hello and look of understanding to the enraged, frazzled mom who parks her van in the fire zone in front of the store. They are a hug for the friends who we encounter and usually only take the time to cover the formalities. Or maybe us introducing ourselves to the man or woman who you see at church every week, sitting alone, and speaking to no one. They are us telling our loved ones how incredibly special they are, and how much they truly mean to us. They are listening to one's troubles instead of telling your own. Sometimes they can be as simple as taking a far away parking space so someone else can stumble upon the 'dream spot'. Or sometimes simply letting a few people get behind you in the check out line, and stepping to the back of the line, letting them all go first.
So....what acts of random kindness do you perform? What can you do? I promise you that doing acts of random kindness is the greatest prescription for anxiety, stress, exhaustion, and feelings of inadequacy that money can't buy. It will make you feel powerful, capable of impacting the lives of others, and in return, your own.