Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
October 11, 2020
Acts of kindness inspire kindness
One billboard around town gets my attention. The billboard is blank except for three words in the center. The words are “Just Be Kind.” That’s all there is. No person or business claims credit for the statement.
Those words got me to thinking about myself. I write about kindness. I advocate kindness. I encourage others to be kind. But questions pop up when I take an honest look at myself. Am I practicing what I preach? Do I go out of my way to commit acts of kindness? In what ways am I being kind to the people whose lives I touch? I realized I did not have many good answers to my questions.
Jesus had a word or two to say about the matter. In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” I know that applies to me, just as it applies to every Christ follower. Jesus is saying, “Walter, you can talk or write about kindness all day but if you don’t practice it, your words will mean nothing. Talk is simply talk, but being kind to others is the will of my Father, and doing His will is what matters.”
So, I started at home, looking for simple ways to be kind to my wife, Dean. Like charity, kindness must begin at home. Only when I have kindness in place at home can I with integrity practice kindness outside my home. And I have discovered something wonderful; the more I am intentionally kind to Dean, the more she responds with kindness to me. Kindness inspires kindness.
The more I thought about kindness, the more I realized that I know many kind people, folks who never write about it or talk about it; they just do it. Every day they are doing what the billboard suggests; they are just being kind. And there has never been a time when kindness was needed more in our nation.
Civility has been replaced with name-calling and vulgar language. Crowds of people cheer those who speak disrespectfully of others. Candidates for public office no longer discuss the merits of issues; instead they viciously attack one another with derogatory words. Kind words are seldom heard nor expected.
Yet kindness remains alive. Here and there we see it practiced and when we see it, it inspires us to practice it ourselves. You will be able to think of several examples in your own arena; I will cite one that inspired me.
When Hurricane Sally came through central Alabama recently, heavy rain and wind knocked the power out for hundreds of homes and businesses. When this happened in Opelika, my friend Martha Hill, who is 86 and a widow, said she was relived a few hours later when the lights came back on.
Martha got to thinking about how the power was restored so quickly and realized it was because linemen of Opelika Power Service were out in the bad weather, risking their lives, to repair the broken lines. Recently a tree limb fell on a power line in Martha’s neighborhood and started a fire. Men from the fire department and linemen from OPS again worked in bad weather to put out the fire and restore power within an hour.
This time Martha decided kindness was in order. She called her friend Edith Walker and suggested they invite their neighbors to join them in an act of kindness. They quickly raised enough money to purchase 40 loaves of sweet breads from her friend Anna Freeman who operates Serenity Farms & Bakery. The next day Martha and Edith delivered 20 loaves of Lemon Blueberry bread and 20 loaves of Banana bread to the linemen of Opelika Power Service. It was an expression of kindness by a grateful neighborhood. The OPS Director, Derek Lee, was so impressed he gave the two ladies a tour of the center.
So, while I was thinking about kindness, and writing about kindness, Martha and Edith were out practicing kindness – kindness that tasted like delicious sweet bread on that day in Opelika. At her age, was it difficult for Martha to spearhead this act of kindness? Not at all. “You cannot imagine the joy I felt in showing kindness to these fine men who serve our community so well,” Martha said.
Now, you dear
reader, have been reading about kindness, and thinking about it. Hopefully,
these few words have inspired you to get up and go practice kindness to prove
my point – that kindness inspires kindness. People need it. You can do it. Have
fun! + + +