For those of you catching up (or living in a heathen hell hole…hmmm…that place sounds cool, actually) it’s Lent! Which means that most Catholics are now giving up some food that’s a real sacrifice for them in order to…understand Jesus’ suffering…or something like that.
Instead, I am spending the 40 days doing something for others every day. Why take away when you can add?
I’ll admit, I thought this was going to be incredibly easy. How hard is it to do something nice for people every day? In actuality, I think we all do so many nice things, that it’s hard to point them out. In fact, it feels weird to think that smiling at someone, saying hello in the hallway to people you don’t really know or saying thank you when someone says something nice is even something that you’d point out or strive to do. Unless you are a total dick, we all do those things every day, without acknowledging or realizing it.
It became apparent to me, that in order to really feel like this 40 day journey was making a difference, I was going to have to go out of my way everyday to do more than just smile at people in the hallway, which I already do…almost to a creepy point…
As with everyone, I am not perfect (though I hate to admit it!). This is going to be a journey for me as well and hopefully by the end of it, I will have learned just as much about non-judgement of others as I have about acts of kindness.
All of us are kind people at heart, but think about the judgements that we may be putting around that kindness. Who do we offer kindness to? Is it people we like already, or we know from experience will appreciate our efforts? Is it someone who looks beautiful already, so it’s easy to tell them that you love their dress or their shoes? What about someone who isn’t put together? Do we exhibit our kindness to them? Do we help the homeless or stay away because it’s scary for us to do so, or because we judge that they got there for a reason and assume any help we give will go to drugs or alcohol, so we decide not to help at all? Be honest.
Day two started out with me realizing that I probably would do better to have an intention every day of what I want to do as my random act of kindness. I was in the Dunkin drive thru, waiting to get my bagel and thought, oh I should probably pay for the person behind me. Nice thought, right?
Here’s where the judgement side comes in. I looked at the person behind me. Did she look like she would appreciate her meal being bought for her? Did she have a nice car, because I swear if she has a Beemer, I am NOT buying her coffee! Did she look like she was going to eat a lot and/or does she have eighteen people in the car with her – i.e. is this going to be expensive? All of these thoughts, as horrible as they are, went through my head. Then, after chastising myself for thinking it, I of course paid for her meal.
It was $10. Who knows what she got. Then I started thinking, I wonder if she did the same for the person behind her? I wonder if she got a dozen doughnuts to bring to work, where did she work, who would eat those doughnuts? Would she tell the story at the water cooler and inspire someone else to do the same the next morning? How cool would it be to follow the trail of kindness…if only kindness came with a go-pro attached to it and we could watch it’s journey…
…and then I remembered, it doesn’t matter. Kindness should be given without judgement, without thought about whether or not the person should deserve it or would appreciate it. Kindness should be given freely without caring about what happens at that moment in time. Kindness is not about what you did yesterday or what you’re planning tomorrow; it is about that exact moment.
I am the last person to remember (let alone quote) a bible verse (trust me), but my parents had a tapestry hanging in our front hallway when we were growing up, you know, the one they read at every wedding: Love is always patient and kind; love is never jealous; love is not boastful or conceited, it is never rude and never seeks its own advantage, it does not take offense or store up grievances. Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds its joy in the truth.
This is really what this journey is about: to get to a place that is kind, without being boastful (which I realize is going to be super interesting when I’m writing a blog specifically about kindness).
I am going to mess up along the way, I can promise you that. I am probably going to insult someone who thinks I am only being nice to them because of this journey, but I’m not going to let that stop me and neither should you.
My friends have all found their own inspiration in this and I encourage anyone who wants to come along to share their stories, especially if they are hilarious. I’m waiting for one of my guy friends to congratulate someone not pregnant on their new baby, or something along those lines.
I called my mom today and she laughed and asked if today’s act of kindness was about reaching out to senior citizens…
…maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t…