One day, when I pulled up and parked on the beautiful brick one-way street flanked by a park, I was greeted by four of the six children who live next door–two two-year-olds, a three-year-old, and a four-year-old. “Can I help you, Christine?” I love how they mispronounce my name in their sweet, earnest voices.
It was a warm day and three were in diapers only, no shoes, as dirty as small children should be. One of the twins was a little girl with a curly mane–wild, untamed, beautiful. A gentle breeze brought it to life as I stood there.
Four little faces were waiting for my answer, hoping to bless me–three little boys and a little curly top. I always think of something they can do. I could feel the happiness while they helped me, and the satisfaction when I thanked them. Letting them help blessed their little hearts…and mine.
The Need to Be Needed
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re here! What would I do without you guys?” Can you carry these jugs of water? Maybe they’re too heavy? I pull four gallons out of my car and place them on the sidewalk. The little ones eagerly pick them up and carry them up onto my porch with robust energy. “Wow! You did that so fast! Thank you!” As they place the water just inside my door, they stop and look up. I smile and thank them.
“Bye!” They wave and smile as they find their way back home, leaving behind happiness in the air because there’s more than they can contain. They have no idea how they warmed my heart.
Every time others bless me, I’m reminded that allowing them to help isn’t a one-way street. When we allow others to help, we allow them to be blessed too. Last week a good friend passed away after years of suffering. Her husband–also a friend–took excellent care of her. He would not let any of us help. I know his motivation was out of love. He didn’t want to burden anyone, so I don’t fault him. I wanted to bless him by giving him a break now and then. And I remember times when I refused help too.
Now, thinking about the children and their obvious bubbling over joy, I realize there are times I should have said yes. When we are injured, sick or overwhelmed by circumstances, others might benefit by helping and seeing our suffering relieved a little. Is it pride that makes me try and figure out a way to do it myself, even when I fail miserably? I don’t want to admit I need help maybe? Is it that way for you too?
The Good and the Bad
The pandemic has brought out the best and the worst in people. As a child, I remember my parents saying that about war. We’ve all seen the unkindness on the screen–people hogging supplies and clearing out shelves, leaving nothing behind, being rude. We’ve seen shouting and violence.
I will never forget the masked woman who asked me in the parking lot how the shelves looked as I walked out of Kroger’s grocery one day. I told her about the empty shelves and how I hadn’t been able to find toilet paper in five weeks since this started. She stopped, opened her trunk, and gave me some toilet paper. The same week, three friends called and offered me some as well, and I explained that I had enough to last a few weeks. It seemed everyone I knew was thinking of someone else when they found a stash, in contrast to those who selfishly cleaned out the shelves at the start.
The parents of three of my Chinese students sent me masks when we had a shortage here in the US before people began sewing them–kindness and care from across the world.
At the start of the lockdown, when I was terrified of catching COVID-19, I was thankful for food deliveries. One restaurant offered free delivery. They delivered to hundreds of people over 60 through the lockdown. Many individuals brought food to neighbors, friends, and family who were afraid.
A Promised Blessing
I will never forget how the first Adventist church I was a member of blessed new mothers. Over the course of two years, seven babies were born on the Sabbath–a very interesting phenomenon. One of these was my youngest son. The women in the church coordinated bringing meals for two weeks and came in and did light housekeeping for new moms. It wasn’t just being on the receiving end that felt good, but also being able to bless other new moms when it was my turn.
The Bible is not silent about this double blessing–wait, a triple blessing—as the scriptures remind us that Jesus is also blessed in the circle of kindness. “…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).
Just as the little ones bubbled over with happiness when they gave away kindness, adults also need this rekindling in their spirit. We’re often told on social media to do random acts of kindness. Let’s remind each other that receiving it is also a kind act.
Christiane Marshall writes from Ohio.© 2017 - 2023 When People Are Kind. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.