That’s it. Be nice. Go along now…
Uhhhh, can we can a refund? We were hoping for something deeper and more meaningful.
Listen, I get it. It’s seems super simple, but I assure you it is ONE of the biggest things we are getting wrong as Christians. It’s like we’ve forgotten the concept that kind gestures and common courtesy go a long way.
Being kind may mean…
…not screaming at the person ahead of you in line for not moving fast enough when the cashier calls them up to the register on Black Friday (AFTER you’ve been standing there for TWO HOURS).
…giving a stranger across the room a warm smile instead of the stink eye.
…being more concerned with loving someone with a different political view as you than demanding to be “right”.
Maybe this topic has been at the front of my mind because of the holidays. Everyone seems to be in a rush. Everyone is expecting to get the most for the least amount of money. Everyone is wading through expectations from family members . The days seems to dwindle and our to-do lists just keep getting longer.
About 9 years ago, around this time, I was in a store with a friend. She found this sweater she wanted to buy, but when we got to the register it rang up different than the sign had suggested. My friend didn’t seem bothered, but instead of keeping my mouth shut I made a fuss and gave the lady some attitude all the while feeling justified because the “customer is ALWAYS right”. Right?!
Walking to the car, I’ll never forget the sadness in my friend’s eyes. “Was it really worth the $5?” she asked. I tried explaining that we were right and they shouldn’t have had the wrong sign-up. I had been more concerned about saving a few bucks, than showing another human being some grace for an honest mistake that she didn’t even do.
Fast forward to this past Thanksgiving. It’s mid-afternoon and I’m at the local laundromat trying to take advantage of the fact that no one else should be there doing laundry. But there is. There’s this older woman a few washers down.
I throw my loads into the washer and find a spot in front of the TV. I flip on some rerun episodes of FRIENDS to have on as background noise keeping my eyes glued to my phone screen. After loading her own laundry, the woman sits down next to me and quietly reads the paper.
I notice her looking at some ads for the upcoming sales and ask her if she goes Black Friday shopping. When she turns to me, I can see she has a black eye and a bruise on the bridge of her nose. She tells me stories of past shopping adventures. I tell her some of my own, which includes a 6-hour wait in Walmart for a TV.
In the midst of the small talk, she tells me her mom passed away a few years back and she’ll be having dinner with a friend in a few hours at a local hotel restaurant. Later, she goes on to explain how she got her black eye. Apparently, socks on linoleum can be quite dangerous. She seemed quite happy just to have someone to talk to and it didn’t kill me either. When I left, I wished her a happy holiday and thanked her for chatting. She smiled.
See the difference? When I left the one woman, she was happy to see me go. If she were like me, she probably mumbled a few words and a “Good riddance!” as I walked out the door. But the other woman, smiled as I left, not because she was happy to see me go, but because I had been kind and showed some interest in her.
Maybe it will make more sense if I bring Jesus into this discussion. Jesus wasn’t a douche. Sure, He tried correcting the Pharisees and Sadducees and all the other “cees”, but He was also the guy making breakfast for his buddies after they’d been out fishing all night.
This holiday season when you’re out looking for the perfect gift and you’re kicking yourself for not doing more on-line shopping ask yourself this: How can I show someone kindness today? And I’d encourage you to be more mindful, not just with friends and family, but with those who will never be able to return the favor. A person in line at the Post Office. An elderly person at a local nursing home. The car vying for the same close spot at the grocery store.
And while you’re at it, let’s start being known for giving LARGE tips. And that doesn’t mean throwing down two tracts instead of one.