We’re in a time of tension, emotions, and division in our country in a way that I’ve not yet experienced in my lifetime. In the midst of this time of uncertainty, it can be easy to fall into the mode of complaining and noticing what isn’t working, what we don’t like, why we’re angry.
All of this negativity makes it easy for us to lose sight of all the goodness in our lives. Yet, kindness continues to abound.
We just have to notice it.
What we focus on expands. If we want to be happier, we have to reflect on the things that bring us joy. If we want to be more selfless, we have to practice gratitude and appreciation regularly.
If we want there to be more kindness in the world, we should be the first ones looking for ways to put it there.
Videos like this one and this one, showing incredible acts of kindness are going viral on social media, a clear indication that we are hungry for hope that the world is still good and that people are still kind.
An act of kindness from a stranger prompted Daniel Lubetsky, the founder of KIND Snacks, to give his company its name. I’ll never forget hearing the story of how their name came to be. If you’re not familiar with it, check out this video. It’ll make you think differently every time you see a KIND bar. It’ll make you want to be kind.
(Oh, and if you’re not already following me on instagram, head on over and “like” my page because I’ll be doing a giveaway there from 11/21 through 11/23.)
The story I want to share today is about something that happened in my life that showed me just how kind and gracious people can be. I hope it uplifts you today.
I was en route to Madison, Wisconsin to go on a retreat with my nutritionist, who has been instrumental in my healing journey. We were on separate flights but due to arrive in Madison within minutes of each other.
The weather in Baltimore was stormy that night, and as I was boarding my connecting flight in Atlanta, she called me to tell me she missed her connection flight and wouldn’t make it to Madison until the following morning. I’d be on my own with transportation and the hotel room. When all was said and done, it was going to cost me upwards of $300 for the drive to and stay in the hotel for what would ultimately be less than eight hours. I couldn’t justify the expense, so I told her to cancel the reservation. “I’ll figure something out,” I assured her.
As I sat on the plane, racing against the clock and the “Please turn off your cell phones” announcement, I frantically searched for a reservation on AirBNB. But my cell phone battery was dying, and my charger was in my luggage overhead with nowhere to charge it. The AirBNB search wouldn’t go through due to a weak signal, so as my flight took off out of Atlanta, I headed to Madison unsure of where I would stay that night.
Once we landed at around 9:30 p.m. and were waiting to deplane, I turned my cell phone back on and saw that the battery was a 1%. Oh, no. Not now. Please, not now.
I looked toward the back of the plane, searching for a friend I’d made in line in Baltimore. She was a fellow healthy foodie and had just returned from several months of backpacking in Europe. “Maybe I could find a way to stay with her,” I thought. But she was nowhere to be found. I was talking through my concerns with the guy sitting next to me on the plane, but he couldn’t be bothered and didn’t seem to care, so I was left feeling a bit alone and helpless.
“What am I going to do?” I thought.
As everyone was getting out of their seats and pulling down their luggage, a gentleman from a row back who had heard me talking about my situation asked if I’d figured out my lodging.
I couldn’t hold it back at that point and despite my best efforts, tears started slowly streaming down my face. “My phone is dead. I don’t know anyone in Madison. I don’t have a place to stay.”
He reached down to a woman sitting nearby and asked her for a tissue.
As she reached into her purse to hand me a tissue, she gently put her hand on my arm and said, “I have a spare bedroom, if you’d like to stay at my house tonight.”
“Are you sure?” I asked, as I turned to face her, wiping the tears from my eyes. I tried to give her an out, not feeling confident that a complete stranger would want to help me: “But I have to be in downtown Madison early tomorrow morning.”
“It’s not a problem,” she assured me. “I’ll just drop you off before work.”
So, off I went to stay with a total stranger for the night, still feeling guilty for burdening her with my request.
We chatted the entire drive home. She told me about her husband, how they met and her love of traveling. As we pulled into her garage, I thanked her again for being so kind to me, and apologized for the inconvenience. She reassured me I wasn’t a burden and said she has a daughter close to my age and hoped that if she were in a similar situation, someone would do the same for her.
Mary’s cute little dog, Rosie, and her husband, John, came out to greet us. She informed her husband that they were going to have a visitor that night and then greeted him with a hug and kiss, “Happy Anniversary,” she said.
Oh geez, Rachel. Really? On their anniversary?
They assured me my presence was not a problem, and John greeted me warmly and invited me into their home. They offered me a drink, set me up in their guest bedroom, and had hot tea waiting for me in the morning.
Mary drove me to the retreat, as she mentally prepared herself for the conversation she was going to have at work that morning. It would be her first time telling an employee that he was being let go. She could have used more time and head space to focus on that, but instead, she went out of her way to take me to where I needed to go.
She dropped me off at the hotel, and in the midst of what was an incredibly windy day, stepped out of the car to take a picture with me. “Thank you for everything. I don’t know what I would have done without your help,” I told her.
We’ve since stayed in touch via social media, and I will be forever grateful to her for her generosity and thoughtfulness that night and for her willingness to help a total stranger in need and show kindness to a fellow human being.
So, as we approach this week of thanksgiving, I invite you to pay attention.
Pay attention to kindness.
Share those posts. Share those videos. Share those stories.
And pay attention to people. Listen to what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. Notice what they might need. Where are you being pulled? What is your gut telling you?
Do they need a smile, a laugh, some money, food, a blanket, a kind word or maybe a hug? Be open to how you might be called to be a light to someone else, someone you might never expect.
In this season of thanksgiving and kindness, be somebody’s Mary.