Perhaps you think the little things you do don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things. Perhaps you think your “random acts of kindness” go largely unnoticed. That may be true at times. But sometimes, the kindness of a stranger can make an impression that lasts a lifetime. I know this from personal experience.
When I was a child, my parents both worked, and I was frequently left alone to fend for myself. We lived in a student housing complex at a major university, so there were always plenty of people around; they just weren’t charged with my care. On nice days, I often left our tiny apartment for one of the many playgrounds in the area. And on one particularly sunny, warm day, I ventured out barefoot. Not a wise move!
While on the playground, I accidentally stepped on a shard of glass from a broken bottle and cut my foot rather severely. I was bleeding and frightened, and I had no idea what to do. As I made my way back home, sobbing, several people passed by me without offering so much as a kind word. But one compassionate soul stopped in front of me, stooped down to look me in the eyes, and offered to take me back to her home and bandage my foot.
All the way back to her apartment, she spoke soothingly to me, reassured me that I was going to be okay, and made me feel as though my plight genuinely mattered to her. She bandaged my foot and watched me until my parents got home that evening, and she told me I was welcome back any time. (For the record, I did return to her home on several occasions, and I experienced that same caring attitude each time I visited.)
I will never forget the impression this made on me. What might have seemed like a small act of kindness to her was an overwhelmingly significant act in my eyes. It meant the world to me that someone who had no formal responsibility for me or my well-being, who did not even know me, would act in such a loving manner. She had nothing personal to gain from her kind actions; yet, she performed them anyway. I don’t remember if I thanked her that day, but I will forever remember the warm, caring attitude she exhibited, and I will always be grateful for the gentleness of this stranger.
You might never fully ascertain the impact of your conduct, but you can be certain that your actions count; they matter in ways you may not realize. One small, seemingly insignificant “random act of kindness” on your part could hold great significance for someone who needs a kind word or a helping hand. I offer my thanks to the stranger who taught me this lesson.