Be That Kind Stranger

Love Tree by Marja Flick-BuijsBeginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight.  Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward.  Your life will never be the same again.

– Og Mandino

In my lifetime, I have been on both sides of the river of generosity. I have given much; and I have received much.

There is a story, however, that sticks out in my mind.  I would like to share it with you because I believe it is a wonderful example of how a little bit of kindness can go a very long way.

In the winter of 2010, I was a mess and my life was a mess.  It was right after everything had happened.  Financially, I was ruined. Physically, I was incapacitated.  Emotionally, I was defeated.  And spiritually, I was suffocating.  Officially, I had been “homeless” for several months.  I put that word in quotes because I would not dare claim to know the full breadth of dehumanization that accompanies chronic homelessness.  I did, however, get a very close look at it.  But that would come later.

At the time, I had spent some time living on various domestic beaches and staying with friends, here and there.  The winter was setting in, and my body could not tolerate sleeping in my tent any longer.  Thankfully, one of my closest friends had helped me with renting a room (a small studio apartment) for the month of December.  And the owner had generously allowed me to move in almost a week early.  I cannot begin to describe to you how good it felt to have my own bed again, and a refrigerator, and a stove . . . even if it was only for the month.

My body was extremely frail, and the excruciating pain would often deform my posture.  It was hard to go “out” for more than an hour or so, at a time, because there was no predictability to it.  I could literally collapse, at any moment, if I was not careful.  But I wanted to get a few grocery items and cook myself a meal.

I went to a local Wal-Mart Supercenter; and I slowly and deliberately pushed my cart down the isles, comparing prices by the pennies.

Milk sounded good.  I hadn’t had milk in a long time.

My hand shook with the tension of pain, as I opened the door to the freezer section and took hold of a gallon of milk.  It felt incredibly heavy.  I felt incredibly determined.  So, I grabbed that gallon of milk by the handle and swung it, with all my might, down into my cart.

Victorious, I stood there looking at that gallon of milk with a tremendous sense of satisfaction.  Then it hit me, and I thought to myself, “Oh hell, how am I ever going to get this up to my room?”  The scenario played out in my head; and it did not look good.  Even if I could get that gallon of milk up to my room, what about the other items I was buying?  No, it was too much to deal with.  I’d have to put the milk back.

I reached down into my cart and took hold of the handle again.  I pulled.  I tugged.  I strained.  But that damn gallon of milk would not budge.  I couldn’t use both hands because I needed the other one to brace myself with the cart.  Of course, I became frustrated and despondent.  Tears began flowing from my eyes so rapidly that my vision was almost completely blurred.

I straightened back up and looked ahead.  A woman was standing a few feet away and had, apparently, been watching this entire situation unfold.  She looked at me with the sweetest and kindest eyes I had ever seen, but there was no pity in her eyes — only compassion.

I said, “Ma’am, can you please help me get this gallon of milk back into that freezer?”

She said, “Of course.”  She walked over and picked up the gallon of milk.  Then she said, “You know what, I need this milk.  Thank you.”

We wished each other happy holidays and went our separate ways.  That woman had helped me, but she had done something more.  She had allowed me to keep my dignity in the process.  She offered me her kindness, and she showed me understanding.

I will never forget that woman, for as long as I live.  While she was a stranger to me, my experience with her that day is something I will carry with me forever.

Today, I would like to ask you to think about being that “kind stranger,” every chance you get.  I believe you will find that kindness is a magnificent healing agent, for everyone involved.

In love & light . . . .

© 04/23/2013

Photos by Marja Flick-Buijs

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26 Comments

  1. That is a really moving story. I agree with you 100% that every chance we have we should try to be kind to strangers. We really don’t know the impacts we are making by doing so.

    Reply
    • Yes, indeed. Thank you, so much, for reading and commenting. Have a beautifully blessed day! S

      Reply
  2. Wow, my heart breaks for what you went through, although I know that wasn’t the point of your story. I’m actually blown away that such a simple act made that much of an impact on you, enough to be grateful and tell the story today. I’m very touched by it. I’ve seen people in need of help before, and I want to help them so bad. I never know if I should ask them if they need any help or not. I don’t want to insult them. Twice I asked … once they said yes and I helped, another time they said no, so I went on my way. If I were that woman and had seen you, I would’ve wanted to help you further. I might’ve asked if you needed anything else. What is the proper way to behave in such a situation if we see someone in need? It sounds like that woman behaved exactly the way you needed in that moment.

    This post also makes me think that just being who we are and acting natural helps others. It wouldn’t occur to me not to want to be kind and help out. I wouldn’t know how to be any other way. Thank you for sharing this.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Lori. I believe that most people are kind, at heart. You are correct, however, that we sometimes aren’t sure what to do or how to respond when we see someone in need of assistance. I told this story because I believe the woman I met that day set a very good example. I have tried to live my life this way too; and I believe that most other people agree that kindness is a very good thing. Sometimes, we all just need a little reminder of what we already know. Have a wonderful day! Love & Light, S

      Reply
  3. Heather

     /  April 23, 2013

    So inspiring, Sloan! The compassion and love I felt by reading your words brought sweet tears to my eyes. God bless you! I’m so happy to know you. With Love & Light! Heather from Namaste News

    Reply
    • Heather,

      Thank you, so much, for your kind comments and the gift of your friendship. I am blessed to know You, my beautiful friend. Have a very lovely day! Many Blessings, Love & LIght, Sloan

      Reply
  4. This really made me think…..because it has never crossed my mind that maybe someone wouldn’t want more help or how it may effect someone’s dignity. I would have been the stranger that didn’t know when to stop helping…..eeek! Thanks for a new perspective on this.

    Reply
    • I believe it depends upon the person you have decided to help and what is happening, at the time. In this case, I believe that woman could see that what I really wanted was to be able to do it myself; but what I really needed was some help. She allowed me to try to handle the situation myself, but when I couldn’t, she was there to lend a helping hand. Being kind is about a lot more than “fixing” something for other people. It is about opening our hearts to them and letting them know that we still SEE them, even in their moments of weakness. I trust that your kind heart will never fail you or lead you too far astray. So, keep listening to it and just go with the flow. Love & Light, Sloan

      Reply
  5. I really resonate with this…I see compassion as a lost art. Holding the door for someone who is obviously struggling or even for someone who isn’t. Today as I was walking the kid I babysit around the neighborhood just babbling away and naming what she heard. we met a man out in front of his house. He was older in years and announced to me that he loved to see new life. It wasn’t hard to smile at him and turn the stroller so he could see. He then announced to me he has thirteen great grand children. I said wow that is alot and smiled…then do you know what this man did? He thanked me for letting him see the baby.I try and teach my daughter that Compassion and generosity is something we can do daily . I wish she had been there to hear the gratitude in his voice.

    Reply
    • How wonderful! Our lives are so busy and there can be so very many distractions that it’s sometimes difficult to remember how a few minutes of our time or some tiny deed can make a huge difference in another person’s life. That man will probably be thinking about that beautiful experience for weeks to come. Thank you for sharing the story! Many Blessings, Sloan

      Reply
  6. Thanks for sharing this story. I admire that you are sharing the unvarnished truth about your personal challenges. That’s quite courageous. Keep smiling ;-).

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jason. I suppose it would be hard to explain how I came to know the various lessons I share without “keeping it real” (so to speak). I enjoy your comments and hope to see you back soon. And, I love your recent post about smiling being scientifically proven to increase sales. I believe smiling increases everything good in our lives. You keep smiling too! Blessings, S

      Reply
      • 😄 Glad you liked the post about smiling. I love the realness- keep it coming. BTW, I don’t know u, but your story sounds highly motivating. It is easy to live in the moment when you know how much worse it can be. Gratitude is where it’s at. Take care.

  7. There is often a purpose to the struggles we experience in life. When we overcome them they are a testimony first to ourselves and then when we share how we overcame a struggle it gives inspiration and encouragement to others experiencing struggles. Your post showed us your personal testimony and the result of your struggle and how people can play a part in another persons struggle just with a simple act of kindness. One act can have a life changing affect on another persons life as your post so beautifully detailed.

    BE ENCOURAGED! BE BLESSED!

    Reply
  8. Francine, thank you for your lovely and insightful comments. I believe that we all have our struggles and obstacles to overcome. My hope is that, in the sharing of my experiences and the insights I’ve gained from them, others will be helped and/or, in some small way, inspired. Like you, I hope to make some small difference in this world and to share my many blessings with others, in the process. Because I couldn’t have managed any of it without my faith, I believe “testimony” is an excellent word for it. I sincerely appreciate your kind support. Thanks again, you beautiful soul! Love & Light, S

    Reply
  9. That is a wonderful story. Life presents many opportunities for us to teach and to learn, to give and to receive. I have not experienced the physical helplessness that you describe in your story but I have experienced challenges in other aspects of my life that allowed me to learn humility and which, at the same time, gave others the opportunity to experience the joy that comes from helping (loving) others. Too often, many of us are too proud to ask for help or to allow our fellow travelers to give us what we need. The woman in your story was blessed, as were you. Life presents these opportunities on a daily basis. We need to take your excellent advice and seize them. Carpe diem!

    Reply
    • As always, my dear friend, your comments are lovely, wise, and insightful. Thanks for sharing them. And thank you, again and again, for Everything.
      Love, Sloan

      Reply
  10. Very inspiring Sloan!

    Reply
  11. Thank you, Cathie! Have a wonderful weekend! Love & Light, S

    Reply
  12. There are loving people everywhere! Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking my post Affirmation, Gratitude and Volunteering! :~) Gratitude Dance~

    Reply
  13. Yes! What a poignant and beautiful reminder of one of my favorite sentiments that “no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” (Aesop) Your story lodged a lump in my throat–compassion for you, gratitude to the kind woman, and memories of the countless times that something as simple as a smile or someone holding the door for me has filled my eyes with tears of gratitude. Inspiring me to try to live abundant kindness every day. Thank you, sweetie. xo

    Reply
  14. Thank you, Sweet Serene! And you DO live abundant kindnesss, every day. I’ve seen it. You’re an Earth Angel. Have a beautifully blessed day! Love & Light, Sloan

    Reply
  15. Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful evening! 🙂 Sloan

    Reply
  1. Love and Kindness | relentlesssalessparring

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