Have you ever done something nice for somebody that is a perfect stranger, something unexpected, and watched his or her reaction? It is a very interesting experiment and a slightly sad one too. Interesting because it shocks people that you would take the time to do something nice and sad because it shocks people that you would take the time to do something nice.
Let me give you a few illustrations, not to toot my own horn but to make my point.
On the way home from work today, I went by the ultimate holiday fun house which I will call Wal-Mart. I needed to get some liquid sinus medicine for my son because he has a cold. While I was on that aisle there was an older gentleman in one of the store scooters. He was on his phone talking to his wife asking, rather loudly, what that medicine was that he was supposed to get so he would stop coughing. She replied Mucinex D, which he repeated for me and half of Wal-Mart to hear. He then proceeded to scoot down that aisle and head for the pharmacy counter to ask them for help. I decided to do my Momma proud and find what he needed and bring it to him. So after locating the right brand, right strength, right quantity and right flavor, I grabbed a box that was on the upper shelf and went on my mission. I turned the corner and he was still on the phone so I held out the box in front of his face until it caught his attention. When he looked up, I said “Is this what you were looking for?” His startled reply was “Yes” and then he began telling his wife about the nice young man who found it for him. I said you’re welcome and went on my way. All told it took me about 47 seconds, but I believe it meant a lot to him.
My second example happened last week when the uncommon cold temperatures and gusty winds blew into town. I was driving home from work and cutting through a store parking lot when I noticed a lady standing by her car with a flat rear tire, the trunk open and on a cell phone. I called my wife and told her what I was going to do and then swung back around to see if I could help. She was on the phone with her dad who was but a short distance away but it was literally about 32 degrees out and windy so I jumped out to help. Her dad showed up and together he and I got the tire changed in about 10 minutes. When I stood up she had a $20 bill in her hand to attempt to pay me. I said that I didn’t need any money and that I would hope someone would do the same for my wife or mom. Away I drove.
The last example is one my wife told me about. She and a friend went shopping on Black Friday for reasons I know not of. They were at Target at about 6 am, which I am told is a madhouse. They came across an elderly lady in a store scooter that was broken down. (At this point I immediately thought of a car stuck in the middle lane of I-285 that runs around Atlanta with traffic flying by on either side.) Anyway, my wife asked if she could help the lady. She said that she didn’t know much about the scooters but was having trouble walking. So my wife determined that the scooter was out of battery and then went to the service desk to let someone know so the lady wouldn’t try walking in the store and fall. When my wife went back to tell the lady that the customer service manager was bringing a different scooter to her, she was amazed and thankful. The two women began to talk about how nice it was for a young person to take time and help two old ladies. My wife went on her way.
The point to all that is this: when did we as a society get so busy that we lost our sense of kindness and selflessness? I believe as Christians that these little moments are what shape us and mark us as believers. They are opportunities to live out our faith in a very real way and in a way that impacts others. It may not be as dramatic as sinking a well in a remote village in Africa or taking a mission trip to the Amazon, but it is something that each of us can do every day. It is something that we can do at very little cost to ourselves and the benefits are great.
It felt good to help that lady with her tire and I hope that she told someone about it. It made me happy to help that old man with his medicine and I hope that he and his wife had it a little easier tonight. It made my wife feel good to be able to help that elderly lady and it made an impression on them that morning.
I hope that in some small way by being kind and gentle and giving to others they can go on with their lives and realize that there are some people out there who care about others and maybe they will go and do the same things.