A "random act of kindness" - it's a household phrase, one that most everyone's experienced: when a friend, or a stranger, goes out of their way to do something nice, just for the sake of being nice, without expectation of repayment or reward.
A week ago I was sitting in a small patient/family waiting room in the Northfield hospital, getting my bimonthly intravenous infusion of Remicaid (treatment for Crohn's disease). In the same waiting room sat several other patients, also there for treatment of an incurable disease: cancer. As I listened to their conversations and stories, I thought to myself that there must be some amazing, deep insight I could gain from it. Each of these individuals had an entire lifetime's worth of experiences more than I, and on top of that they were all battling something I can scarcely imagine having to face. There was so much life-knowledge in that room, and I wanted to share in it.
I've yet to really figure out what deep lesson, if any, God had in mind for me that day. What I did find, though, was an opportunity to reach out and touch a stranger's life.
During my 2 hour infusion there was a man who would come down the hallway into the room every now and then to talk on his phone. His mother was in the hospital for a heart condition, and it didn't sound like she was doing very well. At best she'd no longer be able to live on her own, but have to move into a nursing home.
After one of his phone calls, this man and I started talking; it turns out he'd been a financial advisor to my aunt's mother years ago while she was still living on her own, so he'd known part of that side of my family. It's a small world.
As I was packing up to leave a short while later, I felt a nudge–I knew God was calling me to do something. After leaving the hospital, I returned not more than half an hour later with a 'praying for you' card for the man and his family, and had one of the nurses deliver it down to him. And this got me thinking: why not do a couple more random acts of kindness in the coming days?
Inspired by Terry Esau's 30-day "Surprise Me, God" experiment, which I tried out last March, I decided to undertake my own little faith experiment: waking up each morning and asking God for the opportunity to bless someone's life with a random act of kindness, something out of my way, above and beyond what I would normally do. Originally I was going to do a year's worth... I quickly realized a shorter period of time would be more realistic.
Thus was born my 7 Days of Kindness. Each day I woke up, said the prayer, and, in an effort to bring just a little more good into the world, tried to go out of my way to do something nice each day. It's been a fun ride, and what's been most astonishing is how faithfully God provided me the opportunities I sought, almost always multiple times in a given day. After my first couple ideas ran out though, I actually had to rely on God, and He came through, usually via email... No, God didn't email me Himself (what would His email address be? Maybe IAm@God.net?), but I did get several emails in the past week about people who were facing difficult challenges in their lives. Through these unexpected stories, God gave me the opportunity not only to pray for them, but also to send them cards, letting them know someone cares. One of the people I've never even officially met.
Similar to the journal I kept of God's surprises last year, I also kept a list this time around of everything I did, not as something to admire in itself, but as a testament to just how many opportunities we're given each day to make someone else's life just a little bit brighter.