by Sherri Grosz
It wasn’t really a bad day, but there had been enough inconveniences to put me in a bad mood. I tripped and bruised my knee. The milk was sour. I was stood-up at a meeting I’d confirmed. The zipper on my jacket broke.
None of these events were earth-shattering, but I wasn’t keen to repeat them. I decided to console myself with a cup of tea on the way back to the office.
At the drive-thru, I held out some money to the cashier. She beamed at me and said, “Your order is paid for.” This didn’t make sense. I kept holding my money out. “Pardon?” I asked. “The guy ahead of you, he paid for your order,” the smiling clerk explained. Neat! Suddenly, all seemed right with the world again.
It would have been easy to get bogged down by everything that went wrong, but this kindness reframed it for me. I gave the clerk some money and asked her to cover someone’s order. My tea-break benefactor had only saved me about a loonie, but the kindness was much more valuable. It changed my day. I drove back to work with a smile.
Sometimes, it feels like kindness is in short supply. I’ve heard it often (and said it): “I’d love to help, but I have to (whatever I’m running to or from that day).” We blame our modern lives for this disconnection, but it’s not a new problem.
Jesus told the story of a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho who was attacked on the road, robbed, and left for dead. First a priest and then a Levite pass along the same road, but both avoid the injured man. Then a Samaritan comes along and, despite historical enmity between their peoples, stops to help. He disinfects and bandages the man’s wounds, then brings him to an inn to recuperate. In the morning the Samaritan gives two silver coins to the innkeeper, saying, “Take good care of him. Whatever you spend beyond that, put it on my bill. I’ll pay you on my way back” (paraphrase of Luke 10: 25-35).
I wonder how the Samaritan’s charity affected the traveller once he recovered. Did he remember the robbers’ cruelty and shape his life by that memory? Or did he remember the Samaritan’s generosity and shape his life by that debt? Did he “pay it forward” to others? Jesus ends his parable by asking, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbour to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10: 36-37 NIV).
I’ve recently been trying to emulate the good Samaritan, paying more attention to those around me. I am being more open with my money, but, as that cup of tea bought by a stranger taught me, kindness is more than that. I am also seizing tiny moments of kindness each day—holding the door, letting someone else go ahead in line, taking time to interact with the store clerk.
Our schedules will always be busy, no matter what time of year or stage of life we’re in. But by practicing simple gestures of kindness, we might change someone’s bad day into a good one. Kindness might even change the direction of a life. I think we all have time for that.
Sherri Grosz is a Gift Planning Consultant with Abundance Canada. For more than 40 years, Abundance Canada has effectively helped Canadians with their charitable giving in their lifetime and through their estate. To learn more, visit abundance.ca or call 1.800.772.3257 to arrange a confidential, no obligation free consultation.