It was a really cold Saturday afternoon in Chicago two weeks before Christmas, and I was doing what basically every other person in the city was doing–going Christmas shopping, of course.
On this particular December day it was so cold that literally every time you stepped out of your warm car or house you just wanted to swear. So, here I was getting out of my car, (insert curse word here)…I know, it’s terrible, but I blame it completely on the weather, I wasn’t built for the mid-west.
Anyway, as I got out of my car I decided to get a warm coffee before braving the crowds. I ran into a familiar Starbucks and took my place in line. As I was waiting, I heard the door open, and a gust of freezing cold air came flooding into the warm Starbucks. I turned around, and watched as this older lady, looking like she wanted to murder someone, come huffing and puffing in to take her spot behind me in line.
As she took her place, I heard her loudly say, in a thick New Yorker accent, “Well, that’s just f$#%&! up!” (since this is a Christian blog and all, I’ll let you figure out the exact wording). I couldn’t help but turn around and start laughing. Through my giggles I said, “what? The weather?” And again in her thick accent said, “Ya, it’s just f%$#&! up!”
Between the fact that I basically had just gotten out of my car and said a slightly less terrible swear because of the cold, and her thick accent, I just lost it laughing.
As I approached the register and began ordering (again through my giggles, to which the lady taking my order was so not amused by) I stopped mid-order, turned around and said, “you know what, I’m going to pay for this lady’s order as well.”
To this, the lady (who’s name I later found out was Eve) instantly protested saying that she was coming in to get a coffee for her husband too, and she couldn’t let me do that. I ignored her protest, and smiled saying, “well, I’m getting your coffee, Merry Christmas, I’m happy to do it, ya know… a little kindness goes a long way.”
As I reached for my wallet to pay, I was shocked when this lady embraced me and started to cry. She began to say through her tears, “I can’t remember any one doing something so spontaneously kind for me”, and then turns her attention to the lady taking our order (who still was unmoved by the exchange happening between us) and said, “don’t you just love this girl”?
Then turning her embrace and attention towards me she said, “way to restore my hope in humanity.”
I was floored.
I had no clue that this spontaneous gesture of kindness would bring this woman to tears, who just moments ago had barreled into the Starbucks spitting profanities.
After paying I walked over to the counter to wait for my coffee with a full heart. There is nothing like knowing you have just made an impact for good in someone’s life, especially a perfect stranger.
Eve then walked over to me, and asked me my name and proceeded to thank me about five more times with tears still in her eyes.
I walked out of that Starbucks not just with a warm coffee, but more importantly with a fresh reminder of how unsolicited kindness is one of the most powerful forces in our world. It can soften the hardest of hearts, and remind another person of one of the most important things in life….that they are SEEN.
Kindness says, “I see you, I see your struggle, you’re not alone, and I want to help, even if it’s in the smallest of ways.” I truly believe that unsolicited kindness is also one of the most powerful ways to show the love of Christ to the watching world.
We live in a time when we speed pass each other all in the name of getting “our” things accomplished. But what if we made a point to notice those around us? To take a moment to give them something they never would have asked for, but so desperately need. That could be in the form of a warm coffee, like Eve. Or it could be a kind smile, or maybe even a tank of gas.
Anything that interrupts a person’s day with a message of kindness will have implications that far outweigh any sacrifice that was made to give it.
I’m sure I was just as thankful for Eve as she was for me. Because it reminded me to be kind, even when it’s 10 below and you just want to swear. Eve reminded me that people just long to be seen, and I hope that I can always be a person who strives to see them.