This week, while driving from Ramotswa to Gaborone, I heard a funny sound coming from the rear of my car. Several times along the way, I saw the driver behind me vigorously motioning to my left! I assumed he was telling me that I was wasting his time; and asking me to move so that he could pass. So in response, I made some incredibly rude gestures towards him and felt very proud of myself for putting him in his place!
But for several kilometres after that, the funny sound from the rear of my car persisted. Eventually, I stopped to find out what it was. It was a flat tyre!
I had been driving pretty fast, overtaking several vehicles along the way, so it was a miracle that I hadn’t caused an accident. Even more miraculous, after I pulled over, the very driver whom I had been so rude to was the one who stopped to change my tyre!
I was excruciatingly embarrassed! I felt silly for not noticing that my tyre was flat; and also dumb-founded as to why this driver, would stop to help me! After a while, I was just overwhelmed with gratitude, that despite my manifest misbehaviour, God’s grace had abounded through this man.
My angel at the side of the road chatted merrily as he lay on his back, getting dirty while he changed my tyre. And do you know the reason he gave for helping me? He said, “It’s important to me to help women who’re stuck at the side of the road because I’d like to believe that one day, if my wife was stuck, somebody would stop to help her.”
This brief but powerful experience changed my life! I’ve written about the power of kindness before ÔÇô and how according to research, it positively affects not just the person receiving the kind act, but also the giver of the kind act and, remarkably, other people observing the act of kindness! What’s more, even those I merely relayed the story to via Facebook reported how good it made them feel. And it all started with the actions of just one person!
I, personally, was not only grateful to be on the receiving end of this man’s magnanimity and kindness, but for the rest of the day, I was much more aware of how I treated others. I learned from the powerful example that he’d set for me and I went out of my way to extend the same kindness to others.
And that got me thinking! What would happen if we all did that; if we started being kind to complete strangers and they paid it forward? One person could start a kindness revolution! Just one person, who’s not trying to justify why they don’t have time to help someone, or explain why the beneficiary of their kindness doesn’t deserve it, could change the world! One person, who cares more about ‘being kind’ than about ‘being right,’ could make this a different place
Are you that person?
The kindness we give to others always comes back to us. We sow what we reap! Whether we make the connection or not, through our everyday actions, we plant the seeds for what we’ll reap in the future.
I’m reminded of this story about a couple, who learned this very lesson.
According to legend, a frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson. The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.
Every night, the family would eat together at the dinner table but the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult for him. Vegetables would roll off his spoon onto the floor and when he grasped a glass of milk, much of it would spill onto the tablecloth.
The son and daughter-in-law soon became irritated with the mess: “We must do something about grandfather,” said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.”
So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. Grandfather was banished to eat there alone while the rest of the family sat at the table. Since grandfather had also broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl.
Sometimes when the family glanced in grandfather’s direction, they would see a tear in his eye as he ate alone. Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled his food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence.
One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?” Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I’m making a little bowl for you and mama to eat your food from when I grow up.” The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.
The parents were speechless, then tears started to stream down their cheeks. No word was spoken, but both knew what had to be done. That evening the husband took grandfather’s hand and led him back to the family table.
For the remainder of his days, the old man ate every meal with the family. Neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped or the tablecloth soiled. They had learned the importance of being kind; and they were aware that sooner or later, they’d reap what they had sown.
How do you treat the people around you? Are you kind to them, or are you too busy justifying why they don’t deserve it? Being kind to people will not only make you happier, but it must come back to you!
Be mindful how you interact with other people. Your kindness will always come back to you. Make sure you are setting yourself up to be welcome at anybody’s table, not to eat out of a wooden bowl on somebody’s floor!