Choosing Kindness

Posted on Jan 1, 2014 | 9 comments

Choosing Kindness

I was chatting with a friend recently when he mentioned that he was living on Ramen until his next paycheck. His rent had recently and unexpectedly increased when his roommate moved out. Being the generous sort and with the holidays and such, money was just a bit tight. He wasn’t complaining. He just stated it as fact and we moved on to the next bit of conversation.

Later that day as I was cleaning up the kitchen, I noticed the avocado, clementines, and pears on my counter. Someone would need to eat them in the next day or two or they’d end up in the trash. As I put items in my pantry, I wondered for the thousandth time who bought the gigantic box of saltines that sits on the top shelf. We’re mostly gluten free and the box is untouched. I thought about my friend and his Ramen and I pondered whether or not he would appreciate a bit of my bounty.

As soon as this idea pop into my mind, I immediately followed my usual pattern. Without a second of hesitation, I began to talk myself out of it. What if he thought I was being stupid? What if he didn’t like the items I shared? What if he were insulted by my humble gift? What if I made him feel bad by giving him some food to tie him over until the next paycheck arrived? What if? What if? What if?

Normally this monologue results in one of two things. I either give up the idea and do nothing, or I drag it out so long that someone else does the very thing I was contemplating doing. This time I changed the conversation in my head. I asked myself if the shoe were on the other foot, if a friend showed up on my doorstep with a few items from their pantry to tie me over until my next paycheck, how would I feel?

To be completely honest, I have an immensely difficult time accepting any largesse be it material or in the form of a kindness no matter how small. I’m frequently dumbstruck when someone does any thing nice for me to the point of feeling flabbergasted and acting stupid.

BUT…

In spite of this, anytime someone spends a second thinking about me from the stranger who holds the door open to the friend who brings me cookies to the co-worker who helps me redo my garage storage system, I’m truly feel immensely grateful and completely humbled.

AND…

The number of times I’ve sat alone and waited and wished without any result that someone, anyone, would take a moment and notice that I needed something and reach out and offer it are too many to count.

SO…

I admitted that if the shoe were on the other foot and I was the one eating Ramen and my friend showed up on my doorstep with a bag of items from their pantry to share with me, I’d be a little surprised but deeply touched. Even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, I’d still be happy and feel loved.

SO…

I packed a grocery bag and dropped it off. My friend? He accepted the gift in the spirit that it was given.

AND…

I’ve made what I believe to be an important decision. I’m no longer going to wait to be kind. I’m no longer going to worry about how my actions might be received.  I’m no longer going to question whether or not I should give. I’m just going to do it.

BECAUSE…

At the end of the day, I only have control over how I think and feel and behave. From now on,  I’m going to act on the love. When given an option, I’m going to step up instead of opting out. When in doubt, I’m choosing kindness.

9 Comments

  1. I know exactly what you’re talking about. Having been on the receiving end SO MUCH this year of so many bounties, I know how hard it is to be a receiver. It is humbling… but then again is it really what we’re called to do to muscle through every aspect of our life with so much pride to “do it ourselves?” Recognizing that I am not in control and CAN’T do it on my own has been a big lesson for me in 2013.
    Bless you for acting on an impulse bathed in love.

    • Maybe it’s my difficulty receiving that makes me so fearful to give. It really is a fear.

      I’ve had SO many blessing in the past year. SO many AMAZING people who just showed up on my doorstep and graced me. I think that it’s these individuals who’ve loosened the fear that has clutched my heart for so long. I’m blessed. Truly.

  2. So well put! You’re such a blessing in so many ways, I’m glad I have been able to know you this year and share in the blessings of YOU! Happy New Year!

  3. As usual I’m amazed by how much we think alike. As you described yourself considering giving your friend the food, I imagined myself worrying over things like how the friend might take it… Would he be insulted, would he think I should have given him something better, what if, what if. This summer I watched my mom seek out two homeless people to give half her recently purchased lunch to (because we were traveling, she had no fridge to save left overs, and it seemed a terrible waste to just throw away), and I was worried about how they would respond. Both were very happy and grateful, and ate the food immediately. And yet I wouldn’t have had the courage to even offer it. Thanks for the inspiration. Maybe I will step out and try it in 2014.

    • I hope you do, Holly. I’ve been lucky and had people genuinely appreciate my efforts. I’ve also had people be flat out rude or dismissive as well. We really have no control over how someone else behaves and have no way of knowing where they are on their journey. I also realize that sometimes what I can give may not be what the situation calls for and my efforts may be rejected for no other reason then it’s just not the right thing. I can’t worry about this or take any of it personally. I just have to offer what I’m able to give from a place of love. If it’s accepted, then yay. If it’s not, then it’s just wasn’t right. I’ll let it go and move on. Life is too short to worry and definitely too short not to make the effort.

  4. Denise, it was a blessing to start out the New Year with your post. I completely understand your point about sharing from a place of love, but I need to work on applying that to myself. (I’m a better “giver” than “receiver.”) Choosing kindness from either stance sounds like a great idea to follow through on in 2014. Thank you and Happy New Year!

  5. Oh, Denise! I know this feeling SO much!

    I love giving,and seeing another person’s delight when I do so, but more and more, I enjoy giving small gifts. Like one perfect avocado. Then I think that’s weird and so I hold myself back. But what better gift than one perfect avocado? :)

    Regardless, choosing kindness is a practice that I commit to and I love this piece for the reminder–so thank you!

  6. Act out of love. Such a simple phrase but one to embrace. Your kind heart shines through this even when you were unsure how it would be received. Thank you for sharing your inner thoughts, and I’m glad your gift was received with love.

  7. I loved this post, Denise. I have been reminded on several occasions in the past week how very strong projection is. Thank you for the reminder that kindness has no waiting list.

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