In our cities so full of hustle and bustle it is amazing to watch how people are so absorbed in their own thoughts that they barely notice one another as they hurry past each other on the streets. Often times we see someone lost or someone who dropped something on the ground and is struggling to pick it up and we see people hurry by that don’t even think about stopping to help. As my family and I walked out to our car from the Utah Jazz basketball game though the crowds of people it really affected me to observe people walking past a homeless man that was begging on the corner without really even noticing him. It made me think about how in my own life there have been many times when a thought jumps in my head that I should stop and help someone or even simply smile at someone and how easy it is to ignore that thought. I was grateful that I noticed the man tonight and I was proud that as I walked over to hand this man some change, my son immediately pulled out his own wallet to make sure the man had enough to buy a hot meal. As we walked away I said to my son, “You realize there is a chance he might use the money we gave him to buy drugs or alcohol.” My son’s response was perfect. He said, “God isn’t going to judge me on how that man chooses to use that money, God is going to judge me on whether I stopped to help that man or not.” Great answer!!
So often in life all of us have those fleeting thoughts that we should stop and help someone out, but then we quickly talk ourselves out of it thinking, “They probably wouldn’t want my help anyway”, or, “I am sure someone else more qualified to help them will step in”, or “I just don’t have time to help right now”, or “I have my own problems to deal with”. We have all had those thoughts, and I am sure that there have been times when all of us have been sucked into paying more attention to those thoughts in our head where we talk ourselves out of helping and then felt that twinge of regret that we didn’t pay attention to our instinct to help. At least I know that I have fallen prey to that at times and then felt that feeling of sorrow that I didn’t help when I should have.
On the opposite end, I have had times when I did follow my instinct to help someone else in need and I felt on top of the world for doing so. All of you who have followed that instinct to help know exactly that on top of the world feeling I am talking about. It’s like being on cloud nine and you just can’t stop from smiling.
So if it makes us so happy to help others in need, then why don’t we do it more often?
Aside from talking ourselves out of it like I mentioned before, I think another part of the problem is that we wait for the really big times of need to step in and help others, rather than looking for the small things we can do every day. And in waiting for something big we can do we often end up doing nothing at all. We convince ourselves that doing something small won’t make any difference to someone else.
As you walk a busy street watch people who push by people impatiently and then watch those who stop to open the door for someone entering a building, or who assist someone with directions who is clearly lost, or who simply smile and tell someone to have a nice day. Watching the people who receive small acts of kindness you will see the relief in their face for the help they receive. You will see that these simple acts help to ease the stress people are feeling so they are free to handle the more difficult stresses of their day. These little acts of kindness do make a difference in people’s lives.
I think the lesson I learned from the bustle of the city tonight is the reminder to NEVER SUPPRESS A GENEROUS THOUGHT! Always error on the side of action! If there is someone in need of help, give it. If you can make a difference for good, make it. Look for the small things you can do. Find them every day and take action.
To you they may not seem a big deal. But to the recipient, your small deed may make a difference.