Random Acts of Kindness

7:30 AM

On a wet afternoon, the pavements slick with rain, the sky still grumbling over the busy streets, a woman makes her way through a row of parked cars. She carries a Walmart bag and a swing in her step, and as she passes each tear-streaked windshield, she takes a single flower from her bag and nestles it, carefully, atop the wipers.

She spreads random acts of kindness, flowers on the windshields, wherever she goes. Sometimes it's rolls of quarters and dimes; sometimes it's a "You are special!" note; sometimes it's more flower petals. But she sprinkles joy in a world so empty of hope. It's her bridge to world peace.

Twice I came across stories like this. What better way to spread awareness of the little things in life, placing happy tokens of random kindness on windshields, dropping nickels on the pavement, throwing notes to the wind and seeing where they land? If that's not the epitome of stopping to smell the roses in life, I don't know what is.

Yet somehow, however cute, these random acts of kindness seemed so -- empty. Shallow. A slap in the face to true sorrow, true contentment. Yes, flowers are pretty, notes are nice, and quarters -- I guess rolls of quarters would come in handy for a Snickers bar raid. I like random. I like nice.

But these people talk about this on a world level scale of peace and happiness, melding lives together in kindness, changing the face of the earth through scattered pieces of love. They go way beyond the neat idea of scattering random papers and noting people's reactions. They dedicate their lives to it, to being nice. There's even a website, a foundation, dedicated to random acts of kindness. It's like a peaceful little religion in itself, promoting happiness and sanity one random act at a time.

Nice.

We can do better than that.

When people argue for the little things of life, the lazy catnaps on Sunday afternoons, spiky wet boy-hair, smell of newly-fallen apples on damp autumn ground, there has to be a context for the wonder. It's not enough to pass out bitesized kindness and expect to add to our "goodness fund" -- bolstering our levels of humility, compassion, sensitivity.

Random acts of kindness are just that -- random acts of kindness. The kind of Christian love (which Christian kindness stems off) that we are called to is found in a Person who did an very un-Random Act. That's the context for the wonder.

We aren't called to be "nice" people, cozy Christians of flowers and butterflies fame. We're to give real love, real kindness -- and it's not random. It's personal. It's personal, because Christ Jesus is a personal God, who died, not for the masses, but for the specifics, for His chosen ones. He doesn't offer an envelope of fluffy kindness to soften life's bumps and bruises: He offers a love so tough that it withstands everything from rainy days to the end of days. 

Our kindness has a face to it. Our peace has a name to it. Our love has an anchor for it.

At camp, we have what's called encouragement buddies, EBs, and we buy candy and make crafts and write notes for our EBs, all under the cover of anonymity. For a while, it's exciting to have these random notes passed around, to have the curiosity of "Who?" tickling at the brain -- but full reason, the full kindness, comes when the anonymity lifts and our EBs step forward.

Think about it. If you got a note on your pillow scribbled, "I love you!" it remains nothing but speculation until the writer is revealed. It means a very different thing if your sister scribbled it out than if the boy next door somehow got it into your hands. Until it has an owner, it remains a shallow scrap of happiness, out of context, only surface meaningful.

So it is in real life. The little things -- cloud shadows, cracked wood, warm hugs -- were not made as random acts of kindness from an anonymous God. Sure, to some people unacquainted with Him, they point out the fact that there is Someone good and grandfatherly upstairs looking out for them. They were made as personal gifts, from a personal Giver, to be received with personal thanks. The little things are great only when they are within the context of Christ's love, His grace, and when they are offered up back to God with awe and gratitude.

Our random acts of kindness, if they are to mean anything in eternity, if they are to introduce any real, lasting peace, if they are to unite hope to broken hearts, must point the receiver to the God from which they came. On their own, they are wet flowers on a streaked windowshield. In context of God's grace, they are drops of goodness from the One who gives all good things.

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5 impressions

  1. Yes yes yes. =) Thank you for articulating this!

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  2. Odd, that GOD fits in your pigeonholes.

    Random is pure perspective.

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  3. Yes. Un-random acts of kindness. Thank you!

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  4. That's pretty much how I feel when I hear about those "random acts of kindness". Yes, it's nice for the stranger who receives one, but I want them to know the reason behind my kindness! That I am not being kind just because it's nice to be nice, but because I want to radiate Christ's love. My kindness is not random.
    <><

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  5. Yes, it's important to be sincere and personal. I don't really see encouragement being encouraging if you don't know who the provider of the said encouragement is. (Whew!!!)

    I'm glad that God is a personal God who cares about each one, not just the masses.

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