Unexpected kindness is the most powerful least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.
Bob Kerrey (1943)
Okay, I confess! I love coffee! My double double and I are well acquainted. I love a coffee
with specialty flavored creams, especially in the morning and most of all with a great friend or family member right beside me. Right now as any true blooded Canadian knows we are right in the middle of the Roll Up The Rim to win campaign with Tim Horton’s. But this year, being the 50th anniversary of Tim Horton’s, they have actually created a cup with, wait for it… two spots to roll up the rim! Oh the excitement of having two potential prizes at your fingertips! It is so exciting as you eagerly peek below the cardboard rim of destiny to see if you are the
lucky one, not only once, but twice this year! O.K. maybe I am getting a little too excited here, but bear with me. It’s been a very long winter! It is funny how the simple realization that my next coffee is “on the house” puts a spring in my step and a wide grin on my face as the girl behind the speaker offers her “congratulations,” for my extremely good fortune!
Several years ago I was working for the Salvation Army as their Substance
Abuse Services Coordinator. It was an amazing opportunity to offer hope and
compassion to people who were struggling with addictions and very stressful life
issues. I learned so much when I was there about many things, but most of all I
learned to be truly grateful for what I have. I was reminded of how very blessed
I was daily when I met so many people who quite frankly did not have much to be
thankful for at that particular moment. One such client came in and before he
even sat down, he began to pour out his heart about how everything was going
wrong for him. He had trouble with the law, a broken marriage, and unemployment
issues. To top it off, due to the recent loss of his job, he was experiencing
extreme financial hardship. I did not even know where to begin with this person
to offer kindness and encouragement until he made this profound statement. He
said, “ I am struggling so much with money right now I cannot even get myself a
coffee and a muffin from Tim Horton’s! This is my little treat and I cannot even
afford that! Can you believe it?” A big smile appeared across my face which
seemed quite inappropriate in light of what he was just saying. I quickly
explained that today was his “lucky day!” Puzzled, he allowed me to explain. It was also Roll Up the Rim season at that particular time and my last two cups of Timmies had brought me of all things a free coffee and muffin. I had been looking forward to these treats for my break but clearly what to do with these freebies after this conversation was a no-brainer for me! I explained to him that his coffee and muffin for today was covered by me or rather by Tim
Hortons! Enjoy! What he did next, I will always remember because he started to
cry. He went on to explain that as he was under such extreme stress, that
simple gesture spoke volumes to him about how the little encouragement he craved
mattered. A coffee and muffin was provided for him to let him know someone was
in his corner and he was not alone.
It doesn’t take much to make someone’s day. I think we “over think” it
sometimes. I have struggled on occasion with whether or not I should do
something for someone, at specific times, yet my mom always said “You never go
wrong by spreading kindness.” My parents have actually made it a lifestyle to
invest in others by offering kindness and love wherever they can. I am so
blessed to call them my mom and dad, and I strive to follow their stellar example.
Whatever you have in your hand, you can use to bless someone else. I have a
friend named Margaret who did just that literally. She is an amazing baker. Her pies,
breads and cookies are incredibly delicious, and are truly fit for a place of
honour in the most famous bakery. One October day she had made one of her famous
pumpkin pies. Her family had enjoyed it immensely, but after all the dinner
dishes were cleared there was still one piece left over. As she was tidying up,
she considered what to do with this last piece of pie. In moments an idea popped
into her head, which in hindsight now is more like a “God thing” in both my and
her opinions. The idea was to deliver this piece of pie to my mom. Margaret was
a good friend of my mom’s and she thought she would really enjoy the pie.
Margaret struggled however with this idea. Margaret is very kind and generous
and as her and I have chatted many times about the “pumpkin pie” story, she
shared she felt foolish about giving only one piece of pie to a good friend. Her
desire would be to present my mom with an entire pie for the family to enjoy,
not one little piece. Nevertheless she could not shake this feeling that that
pie slice had my mom’s name on it. She described that she drove up and down my
mom’s street several times before she finally got the courage to go to her door
with the pie. What she didn’t know was that very day my mom had been out
shopping to fill a craving she had for what else but pumpkin pie. Sadly, as it
was close to Thanksgiving, there were no pumpkin pies anywhere! My dad was away
on a men’s retreat and one piece was all she really wanted. Imagine my mom’s joy
and delight when a piece of pie was delivered right to her door. Margaret felt
incredible too that despite her feeling a bit silly by bringing only one piece of
pie, she became an agent of encouragement for a dear friend.
Show and share is always a big thrill at school. I usually link it to a
curriculum expectation such as for our animal unit, the kids bring in a stuffed
animal and describe what species it was etc, but sometimes I just like to open
up the floor for what they have been writing in their free choice writer’s
notebook. One day a little girl was so excited to share what she had written.
She hugged her notebook close to her chest like a prize possession and eagerly
began to share. She had written a song apparently that day and with great pride
the song she shared was entitled “Why I Love Mrs. R!” I had been having a rough
morning that day and this was exactly what I needed to bring me back to what
really matters and feel encouraged. Kids have a way of doing that. Likewise on
another occasion I have a very special memory about the last day of school one
year. I find the last day of school very emotional for me. We have been through so much
together at that point. I have loved these kids and prayed for these kids. I
have rejoiced in their victories and been saddened by their struggles. They will
never again by in my classroom as they are older now and moving on. As sometimes
happens they come in with lovely gifts and cards that are real tearjerkers for
me. I was blown away by the generosity of the families and humbled by their kind
words. One little girl shared she wanted to save her gift for last because it
was so very special. When all the gift bags, cards and tissue paper were
cleared, I noticed she was standing there front and center with a huge smile.
She asked so sweetly “Are you ready for my gift?” Through my tears and emotions
I replied, “yes.” She then proceeded to give me one of the biggest, heartfelt
hugs I have every received. That was her “very special gift,” which quickly
mushroomed into one of the biggest, most special group hugs I had ever received.
That was it! I was a bundle of tears but for the best reasons! She gave the gift
of herself and that is what was so touching!
We can all struggle with questions about what do we have to offer this world
of ours? What talents, skills, wisdom, or practical assistance can we give? We
cannot do it all but we all can do something in our own little corner to make
someone else’s day better. The cool thing is that when you reach out in
kindness, you make your day brighter in the process as well. The chain of
kindness is just like that. As we like to sing at Valentine’s Day in my
classroom “Love is something if you give it away, you’ll end up having more!” So
what’s in your hand? A free coffee, a piece of pie, or a timely and needed hug?
Don’t underestimate the power you have to encourage someone. You just might be
what that person prayed for or needed that very day and that is truly amazing!
So roll up that rim, roll up your sleeves or roll out the red carpet to bless
someone who needs it. Trust me you will be very glad you did!
Matthew 10:42 And if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of
my followers, you will surely be rewarded.
Little Lesson Learned: Whatever you have to offer others know that it can be
used in powerful life changing ways if you are open to it.
Copyright: Littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2014