She had lost everything – her job, her best friend, her marriage…
Even her kids were siding with her ex-husband.
A series of events, each worst than the last, piled up until she was left with no option but to take her place at the soup kitchen in Sydney’s CBD.
The smiles of the servers, the love radiating from that place… It warmed her heart more than the soup.
She wished she had a magic wand to wave over all her life choices so far.
She longed for a fresh start.
Maybe if she hadn’t trusted that guy back in her final year of school, things would be different.
They were together for 26 years – and all she had to show for it were bruises.
She leaned into the slatted seat outside the kitchen.
Her back was aching.
She looked up at the sound of her name.
Marna – we met last week?
It took her a moment to wipe her eyes and register the person coming closer.
Sweet, smiling Emily.
I’ll bet she’s madly in love. Never had a beating in her life.
Regardless, Marna liked her smile.
One thing she did know to be true:
Kindness shines into the deep dark of despair, offering hope.
And Emily was one of the kind ones.
How was your week? she said, genuinely wanting to know.
Marna sighed as she put her heavily buttered roll aside.
She told Emily about everything, from the rental company hounding her day after day, to the rude messages from her teenage children.
And she just listened.
It felt good to have her gentle eyes on her.
It felt even better to be heard, and seen.
Emily offered to help with some of the phone calls Marna needed to make that week.
She knew she’d be OK, but it was good to know someone cared.
Thanks Emily, Marna said.
It means a lot.
And they agreed to meet next week – same time, same place.
+ + + + + + +
When we’re feeling at our lowest and most despondent, a simple touch; an understanding, empathetic smile; or a few words of love stand out like beacons.
But we often neglect kindness in favour of well-meaning solutions.
We opt for a lecture over a quiet, listening ear.
We avoid the pain of others instead of entering in.
For fear of saying the wrong thing, we say nothing at all – or rush in awkwardly with trite clichés.
Some of the kindest, most pastoral people I’ve met have perfected the art of a smile across the room, a gentle squeeze of the shoulder, or simply, groceries carried to the car.
Kindness goes a long, long way towards building trust and connection.
Kindness stops and takes a moment – or two – to hear their story before jumping in with our own.
Kindness is a dish of food, a warm hot chocolate, a song if you’re lucky…
Kindness is a hug, a blanket, a teddy bear to cry into.
Kindness is a prayer, a text message, an invitation to walk.
Kindness shows us its importance when we start walking it out – and when we need it ourselves.
Kindness is profound in its simplicity, powerful in nature, and the attribute I most want to cultivate.
Be kind. Always.
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. “ (Colossians 3:12)