As I write this, it’s been exactly a year since the pandemic began and one thing that I have thought about a lot this past year, is how we reach out to one another. How we care for one another. How we step out of our comfort zone and listen to those quiet nudgings. In the past I often felt that when someone was going through a difficult time and I didn’t ‘know them well’, someone else–someone closer to them would reach out and do something nice for them–bring them a coffee, a meal, flowers, sit with them, or send them a card. I made an assumption that I am finding, is often a false assumption.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, many years ago, many people in my friend and family circle reached out and I was so grateful, yet the person I remember the most in how they reached out was someone I didn’t expect it from. It was the Dean of Education at the University I went to. She reached out and checked on me, she sent an elaborate bouquet of roses following surgery, and ensured that I was able to finish my year of schooling by giving me four months of extension on all of my assignments. She didn’t truly know me. I was one of hundreds of students in her faculty and we didn’t have any sort of relationship, yet her kindness meant the world to me.
Decades later when our son passed away unexpectedly, it was the unexpected kindnesses that have stuck with me. The ladies who packed up our home and cleaned it so we didn’t have to go back there; the family whom we didn’t know, who didn’t have time to make us a meal, but felt the Holy Spirit’s nudging to reach out, so they had pizza delivered to us for dinner one day. The car dealership who had just bought a house that was to be torn down to make room for more cars–who allowed us to move in (rent free) while we looked for a house to buy–so we didn’t have to return to the house where Mikail died. The children’s ministry pastor who came to visit and was willing to sit in the awkwardness of grief and emotions and silence with us. The dozens and dozens of cards that were sent from strangers all of North America just to let us know we were in their thoughts. None of these people needed to or were expected to do these things, but they listened to the nudging and acted on it.
These unexpected moments of kindness from people we didn’t know well or didn’t know at all, were everything. They still are, when they happen. They taught me to listen to the nudging within when someone comes to mind. It is easy to reach out to those we know–our family and our friends, but do we reach out when it’s someone we don’t know or don’t know well? Do we make an assumption that ‘someone else’ will step up? To reach out when a need is made known for a person I don’t know well, doesn’t come naturally, but from experience, I know that it can make all the difference. Yes, it can be weird and awkward, but it could mean the world to the person on the receiving end.
Has someone come to mind for you? Has a need been made known? Have you acted on it? It could make all the world of difference. I would love to hear about it.