In a world quick to condemn, criticize, and overreact, be quick to be kind.
The summer before I started middle school, I gained a lot of weight and developed unsightly stretch marks on my thighs. I was ashamed. While my parents worked during the day, my older sister took me to the neighborhood pool. I braced myself when I walked out of the changing stall. My sister never said one word about my body. She only said, “I love your bathing suit!” I remember as if it were yesterday. It meant everything that she managed to think of one nice thing when she could have said something cruel or nothing at all.
In the days that followed, other people were not so kind, but the pain was eased by remembering what my sister said. She’d said one nice thing, and her opinion mattered more than all the others.
Although my sister was very smart, and had long, beautiful hair and good conversation skills, I realized that anyone could be that person — the person who thinks of one nice thing when no one else does.
From that moment, I set a secret goal to be the person who thought of one nice thing — especially when I noticed someone looking uncomfortable, insecure, or left out.
Those people were easy to spot. They always looked a little sad or a little angry. Saying one nice thing almost always brought a look of relief. Sometimes it started a conversation; other times it didn’t, but I always loved seeing that tiny flash of relief. As an elementary education major in college, I got to visit many classrooms. I was always drawn to the children whose desks were pulled away from everyone else’s. I would bend down and ask a few questions. As the child began to talk, a compliment would pop into my head. When I said it, the child would always look at me a little funny — as if perhaps he hadn’t heard anything nice about himself in a while.
That is when I knew what God was calling me to do with my life.
I went on to be a special education teacher. I always appreciated the children who would take a moment to talk to, encourage, or include my students. I would later pull those kind children aside and tell them how that one nice thing they said or did made a difference. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen my student smile like that,” I would say. Or “I’m certain she’s going to remember your kindness forever.” The children would look surprised and pleased and then go on giving more kindness as if it was their job.
Now that I have children of my own, I encourage them to be the person who thinks of one nice thing. I don’t think there is a more important person to be I say:
Yeah, it might be cool to be the one who knows all the answers, but consider being the one who thinks of one nice thing.
Yeah, it might be cool to be the one invited to all the parties, but consider being the one who shows up when no one else does.
Yeah, it might be cool to be the one everyone gathers around, but consider being the one who extends an invitation to someone outside the circle.
Yeah, it might be cool to be the one with all the latest gadgets, but consider being the one who always has something kind to say. Be that one.
The look of relief on another person’s face is far better than any trophy, any contest, any invitation, or any award.
In a world quick to condemn, criticize, and overreact, be quick to be kind. Your kindness might just be carried in someone’s heart forever, changing the course of her life for good.
Excerpted with permission from Only Love Today by Rachel Macy Stafford, copyright Rachel Macy Stafford.
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Think about the kindness of Jesus in some of our favorite stories — Zaccheus (Luke 19), the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), Lazarus (John 11). Jesus was kind to those that others rejected and hated. He welcomed and embraced the ostracized and disenfranchised. He wept for the suffering of others even when He knew He would bring healing. Today, let’s bring kindness wherever we go! Come share your one kind thing with us on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
Only Love Today
Rachel Macy Stafford
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