Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.
I love quotes. I have them scribbled down just about everywhere. It used to drive my husband crazy, but now I don’t even think he notices them! This one from Mother Teresa is one of my favorites.
Mother Teresa was a woman who worked endlessly in the slums, encountering dirty, sick people. She ministered to those who were kind and to those who were hostile. Her life was not easy. Yet, out of the heart, the mouth speaks. When she spoke, she encouraged others to leave a mark of love and kindness on others. She was so filled with it herself that it naturally poured out of her.
How I long to have that much love and kindness overflowing in my heart! Instead, I find myself showing kindness until my natural energy depletes, and then I go into social hibernation. I have been so tired lately. Keeping up with life over here has drained me of much of my energy. And while just managing my home and family is more than enough work, I always end up adding more to my plate! Sometimes I run on energy that I borrow from tomorrow…or next week! And I don’t know about you, but when I’m exhausted or overwhelmed, I don’t feel much like being the encourager. Rather, I want to lay down and let other people feed me with their encouragement.
But then I think about how I feel when I run into an old friend or an acquaintance who is cheerful and kind, even in the briefest of interactions. It affects me in such a positive way! Suddenly, a spring is in my step and a smile is on my face (I wish I could say the dark circles disappear, but I digress!) I had such an experience this past weekend. Hurriedly running my errands, checking off my lists, and planning the next few hours in my head, I ran into an old friend. We talked for maybe 5 minutes, but they were such a refreshing 5 minutes, full of smiles, perspective, and reminders that life is short, and full of joy. When we parted, I realized that joy truly flows out of our hearts in the most simple of ways. There were no deep thoughts exchanged, no dissertations, but simply a kind face smiling and talking with me. That kindness softened my heart and my “type A” personality as I continued with my harried day.
I’m reminded that no matter how I feel, no matter how tired, no matter what my circumstance, I must cherish every interaction I have with people in my life. My immediate reaction is to shrink back from interaction when I do not feel my best, but that is because I rely on my own strength so much of the time. I don’t want people t see my strength! I want them to see God’s. He doesn’t require us to have these grandiose things to say or do in order to encourage others. Sometimes it’s as simple as a smile.
I want to be a pure reflection of who He is. It’s a tall order, yet something to strive for each and every day. Relying on His strength allows me to put a smile on my face, not in an artificial way, but because there is much to smile about! Social hibernation can put us in a vicious cycle of wallowing in our own woes. However, when we choose to step out and intentionally become part of people’s lives, we can truly see how blessed we are and how a simple smile and a kind face can leave others better and happier after our interaction with them.
This world can be such a negative place to live in. But greater is He who lives in us than he who is in this world. Show that greatness in your everyday interactions and watch how contagious kindness can be!
P.S. To my friend who I ran into in Target, if you’re reading this, thank you for being a gift to me in those few moments! You have such a beautiful spirit!