Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The cost of kindness

My girls and I had just come out of the grocery store when we noticed an elderly lady struggling to get her car to start. It was literally pouring buckets outside, so as I sat in the dryness of my car watching her, I really hoped that she would get the thing to start. 

No luck. Every time she turned the key, the whole car shook like it was possessed. As much as I didn't want to get soaked, I knew I couldn't leave her stranded in that parking lot. Now, you and I both know that my auto mechanic experience is pretty limited... I mean, lets face it, I don't know much beyond the basics! But, that didn't matter. I was determined to help however I could. 

I was pretty certain that it wasn't her battery, and when I approached her window and saw all the dash lights burning brightly, my suspicion was confirmed. There was a clicking sound that reminded me of when the starter when out on one of my vehicles...Yeah, not a whole lot I can do about that, but when I saw the broken expression on her face, I knew I had to do something, even if it only made her feel better. 

Immediately, I had the impression to ask her to pop her hood so I could try jumping her. Knowing it wasn't a battery problem, I felt silly making the suggestion, but I followed the prompting anyway. I told her to stay in the car and, as the rain soaked through my shirt, I hooked up the jumper cables then had "Awesome One" turn the key to my car. 

With the lady's car hood open I could see the entire engine block shake so bad it looked like it would jump right out of the frame. It was almost scary to be standing in front of it. Still not knowing what the problem was, I said a prayer in my heart as I scanned the shaking, non-compliant engine for an answer. Now, I don't know what a perfectly functioning engine should look like, but as I watched hers, I knew it was wrong. Three of the 4 spark plugs jiggled so loosely I don't know how they managed to stay in place. Again, I felt silly for hooking her up to my battery, but, as she cranked her key and pumped her gas, that little extra boost from my car seemed to make the difference.

After a few minutes her car roared - and when I say roared, I really mean ROARED! - to life. I counseled her to get to a shop asap, then closed her hood and sent her on her way. I don't know how much help I actually was, but in that crowded parking lot, I'm glad I took the time to try. Not a single other person seemed to notice her and, as I thought about my own grandma, it broke my heart. Many walked by, but only one took the time to help. 

Isn't that what this is all about? Not just the act of helping someone in the rain, but life in general: Helping Heavenly Father's children, even when we don't feel capable! This word, KINDNESS, has been on my mind almost constantly for the last several weeks. Kindness. Service.... Love. I look at the world and wonder how things got so off course. Ultimately, I've concluded, it boils down to a lack of kindness. Somehow selfishness has taken over and kindness has been kicked to the curb. Yeah, I know, kindness isn't always convenient  We're all busy, aren't we? Things to do, places to be. I get it. But is it really that hard to be kind? 

We've been working on it a lot around our house. This concept of not just recognizing other's needs but of actually stepping up to help each other. Acts of service - both silent and not-so-silent - have started to fill our walls. We are working on looking beyond our own wants and even beyond our needs and focusing more on what others might need... and, you know what? It's not a sacrifice at all. In fact, its been quite rewarding. 

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