Make 2017 a Year-Long Random Act of Kindness - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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December 7, 2016

Make 2017 a Year-Long Random Act of Kindness

We just never know when a warm smile or a comforting touch could be the very thing that turns a person’s day around. When one compliment, delivered with compassionate authenticity, can lift them out of a dark funk into the light.

You probably have a few resolutions in mind already for the new year that’s right around the corner. We’d like to suggest one more for your list. It’s easy, quick, and costs nothing to implement, but the effect can be priceless: Perform just one random act of kindness every day for a full year. You will be touching the lives of 365 people, and we suspect your heart will be touched and warmed in equal measure.

Here are some ideas to inspire you.

1) Handwrite paper thank-you notes, and mail them to everyone who remembered you over the holidays.

2) Give in secret, taking inspiration from Matthew 6:4. Anonymously pay for a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line. Prepay someone's car toll or bus fare. Tell the restaurant waiter you’re picking up the tab for that person eating alone at the counter.

3) Extend small shopping courtesies to strangers. Hold the door open, hold the elevator, hold the squirming child while mom tries on new jeans. Tell the harried, rushed person in the checkout line to get in front of you. Surrender “your” parking space to that other circling car. Place the shopping cart in the rack, or walk it all the way back to the store.

4) Cultivate charity on the road. Let people merge in front of you, giving them plenty of room and a friendly wave. Stop to offer help to a driver with a broken-down car. Practice patience: Don’t honk!

5) Give magnanimously and meaningfully. Do you own something a friend has always admired? Give it to her. When someone compliments you on something you’re wearing, if appropriate, hand it to him or her. This simple act can create a memory that lasts a lifetime, and they’ll think of you with love and thanks every time they use their treasure.

6) Be a generous neighbor. Blow the leaves or snow off of your neighbor’s sidewalk when you’re doing yours. Offer to walk an elderly neighbor’s dog for a week. Compliment neighbors on their homes or yards when it’s clearly a source of great pride. Pick up litter you spot without grumbling about “those other thoughtless people.”

7) Commit to a cause. Make this the year you get involved with a charitable organization or community improvement effort that resonates with you. But don’t be “sounding the trumpet before you”, as Matthew 6:2 advises. Choose one thing that you’re passionate about, and commit to helping in some ongoing way:

  • Animal rescue -- Purchase extra pet food and drop it off at the shelter. While you’re there, walk a few dogs and groom the cats.
  • Neglected seniors -- Volunteer to read to nursing home residents. Combine your love for seniors and pets by adopting a homeless dog and training her to be a service dog.
  • Abused kids -- Be a mentor, Big Sister, or Big Brother. Sponsor a child in a developing country.
  • Steward the environment -- Plant a tree, pick up roadside litter, spearhead a community organic garden, or start a recycling program if your town lacks one. Carpool to conserve energy.

Do what you can, no matter how seemingly small, to help make a difference. And remember: “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.” Maintain a spirit of humility, performing your good deeds quietly and unobtrusively without calling attention to yourself. You’re not looking for human admiration and recognition, after all.

Lastly, extend frequent acts of kindness to yourself. Accept past mistakes, receive God’s grace, resolve to do better, and then try to do better. We’re all works in progress here!

If you’re interested in learning more about the biblically based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to explore the possibilities with you.