A recent experience reminded me that doing an act of kindness doesn’t guarantee how someone else will act. I checked the rule book. In Ephesians 4:32, it said,
“Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
Unfortunately, we all break the rules. Here’s what happened to me.
I spotted a prime parking space on a recent trip to the mall. As I pulled into the space, I noticed an elderly woman standing close to the car on my left. At a glance, I also saw her cane and her sweet disposition. She nodded and smiled. I did the same. It felt like my mall welcome was complete.
However, as I exited my car the woman approached me and said, “Excuse me Miss, could I please use your phone? My daughter went into the mall 3 hours ago and I haven’t seen her since. I want to know what is taking her so long.”
I tried to discern the woman’s sincerity but sympathy stood in the way. I’ve been a caregiver to elderly family members. I couldn’t imagine leaving them unattended in a parked car anywhere for 3 hours.
My judgmental mind continued to race. As soon as it crossed the line of reason, I said “Sure Ma’am. You can use my phone.”
She told me her daughter’s phone number and name. I called as she instructed. I said, “Hello. I’m in the parking lot with your mom. She is okay, but she would like to speak to you.” As these words fell from my mouth, I hoped the most awkward part of this story was behind me. I was wrong.
As I gave the woman the phone, her soft-spoken demeanor morphed into Momzilla. I can’t type the words she used. My conscious won’t allow me and my spell-checker would go dizzy. I don’t think her daughter wiggled one word into the conversation.
Between the mother’s expletives all I could hear was the occasional, “But Mom…” Okay, I guess the daughter managed to get in two words. The mother hung up the phone as her daughter struggled to explain.
What had I done? What started as a kind gesture was now a family drama. Momzilla quickly morphed back into nice person. She said, “Thanks so much, dear. I appreciate you helping me out.” She flashed her warm smile, returned my phone and walked away. She obviously felt better. I did not.
Note to self: Once a kind gesture leaves my mouth, my hand, or my heart, it also leaves my control. I wanted to say, “Hey wait a minute! You didn’t say you were going to sling profanities at your daughter from my phone!” Too late. It felt like my smart phone was my misused phone and I had to ask myself a tough question.
Knowing what happened, would I give her my phone to use anyway? Would you?
The woman wanted to vent her anger and my phone helped her do it. I hoped she and her daughter connected soon. I pray their reunion was peaceful. But I needed to find peace too. I could become jaded by the disappointment or I could continue to let my light shine because God is so good. His goodness overwhelms.
If you’ve extended kindness but it turned into chaos, here’s some good news: God knows just how we feel. In Christ, He gave us His One and Only Son and we gave Him grief. And yet, as we embrace His love and sacrifice, we can begin to share His kindness too.
Sometimes the results come with an abundance of warm feelings. Other times it comes with a lesson learned in a parking lot. But wherever we land in our pursuit of good deeds, the willingness to share God’s love should always bring hope for the heart and joy to the soul.
“How kind the Lord is! How good he is! So merciful, this God of ours! “– Psalm 116:5 NLT