Last week, under the fatherly hand of God, I learned a short, sharp lesson in kindness.
I have dear friends who excel in kindness. As soon as they hear of someone in need, they are there with loving service: making plates of food for a child's party, baby-sitting during a time of stress, cooking meals for someone who's ill.
I easily forget simple acts of kindness. When people share their problems with me, I tend to listen and advise rather than offering practical help. I don't even think of providing such help, and if I do, it often seems too hard for this mother of 4. I say this to my shame.
But last week I learned first hand what it is to go through a difficult time without much help. Not through anyone else's fault! I refused the help that was offered, because of my own pride and inexperience of grief. Like many of us, I prefer independence to the humility of accepting service, and I didn't realise how debilitating grief would be.
I learnt first-hand how important other people's kindness is in helping us deal with the difficult experiences of life. I was reminded that kindness isn't academic, that it has an impact on real people in the real world. I realised that when I fail to offer kindness to someone, I may be increasing their exhaustion and discouragement.
I needed this small rebuke from God! I hope and pray that next time someone tells me about a difficult time they're going through, the first words out of my mouth will be, "Tell me something I can do to help!"