I sat at my kitchen desk on a Monday morning, hunched forward, concentrating on an email. (My computer posture leaves much to be desired.) It was a full day of meetings and managing projects; I was trying to maximize every minute. I glanced at the clock — twelve minutes until my next online appointment. In the midst of my mental flurry of deciding which item on my to-do list could be tackled in twelve minutes, I thought about my neighbor.
It had been a couple weeks since I’d seen her. I know that consistency is key when growing a new friendship. I didn’t want too much time to pass before reaching out again, but as I looked at my calendar, I just didn’t see where I could squeeze in a coffee date anytime soon.
That’s when I saw the chocolate cake.
My aunt and uncle had come over the night before and brought one of those delicious, super moist, chocolate bundt cakes from Costco. It’s so big and rich we only made a small dent in the dessert. And the thought came to me, “I could take a piece of cake to Christel.”
I’ve been on a journey of looking for simple ways to live out intentional kindness. Through that, I’ve learned the importance of embracing the power of now. The power of now is about taking immediate action. It’s so easy to say, “Oh, that’s a good idea. I’ll get it to later when I have more time or more energy or more [fill in the blank],” but then never do it.
Hesitation often causes good intentions to fall by the wayside of inaction.
I now had ten minutes left so I got up and cut a big slice of chocolate cake. I put it in a disposable plastic container and grabbed a pretty napkin I had leftover from a party. I walked across the street and rang Christel’s doorbell.
“Good morning!” she said, opening the door.
“Hi! I was thinking about you today. I had some chocolate cake, and I just wanted to pop over and bring you a slice.”
Her beautifully wrinkled face lit up.
“Oh, what a wonderful surprise! I will enjoy this so much. Thank you!”
I hugged my neighbor and walked back home, sharing her smile. I got back to my desk just in time for my next meeting. Delivering chocolate cake wasn’t on my to-do list, but I couldn’t have chosen a better way to use my twelve minutes.
I share this story as much for my own heart as for yours today, friend, because we’ve got to remember kindness doesn’t have to be flashy or elaborate to make a big difference. Making this mental shift has made all the difference!
I used to think that to show someone I cared I had to go all out. That a kind gesture needed to reflect a lot of time or money or be Instagram-able in order to be truly meaningful. But guess what? People just long to be thought of. People just long to be seen and cared for.
I didn’t spend hours baking a cake. I didn’t even buy the cake! I simply looked at what I had and saw an opportunity to share it and bless another.
Another thing that used to hinder me from embracing the power of now and offering simple kindness was the plague of what-ifs. They might sound like this: What if she doesn’t like chocolate? What if she’s allergic to gluten? What if she’s not home? What if she feels nervous about germs and sharing food? We can easily “what-if” ourselves out of simple kindness.
Here’s what we have to remember: God calls us to love in action! Ten times Scripture reminds us of the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” And there’s no shortage of explanations of what that looks like! For example, 1 John 3:16-18:
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion — how can God’s love be in that person? Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.
We are responsible for our obedience — God is responsible for the outcome! Even if Christel didn’t like chocolate cake and took my gift straight to the trash, I would have still done my part and she would still know that she was thought of.
What do you already have today that you could share with someone to show your love? Here are six simple ideas:
- Drop off an extra portion of soup or leftovers from dinner to a friend who is sick.
- Cut flowers from your yard or pick fruit from tree and take them to a neighbor.
- Spend ten minutes between tasks texting someone to tell them you love or appreciate them.
- Pack an extra snack for a friend or coworker.
- Ask a friend if you can pick up something for them at the store you’re already going to.
- Clean out your closet and think about who might be blessed by the items you no longer need.
Kindness doesn’t have to be complicated. If all you’ve got is twelve minutes and leftover cake, give it joyfully. The same God who made much of five little loaves and two fish can make much of exactly what you have too.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Hall says
Most excellent!!!!! i am a shut in—I always love it when I receive a card or someone drops by. I live with my son and his wife and 3 grandchildren; but they are so busy I can go days without seeing them hardly seeing them.
Becky Keife says
Besty, I love hearing that those small gestures of a card or a quick visit are meaningful to you. God bless you, sister.
Becky, this is such good encouragement. I struggle with those what-ifs. Thanks for encouraging me to get beyond them and just do what the Spirit has prompted me to do.
By the way, I got this message from another older friend yesterday. Guess I better take note!
Becky Keife says
Yes! Silence the what-if’s and listen to the Spirit! 🙂
What a wonderful reminder of how we can be the hands and feet of Christ! We all can make little differences that add up to so much in God’s hands. Thank you for the most excellent reminder.
Becky Keife says
Thanks so much for being here and reading, Bettye. I’m so glad this was encouraging to you!
Beth Williams says
Such great wisdom here. Loving these: Hesitation often causes good intentions to fall by the wayside of inaction. We can easily “what-if” ourselves out of simple kindness. God calls us to love everyone no matter what. Everyone wants to be seen, known & loved. Last week I gave a couple of friends gift cards for birthday & anniversary. Yesterday I called & spoke with step MIL. Each Friday I volunteer with Loaves & Fishes food bank. I help put meals together in take out containers, hand out food boxes, wash dishes whatever needs to be done. Also donate clothes to their clothing giveaway. I made mac & cheese for a friend who has another friend who just lost his second sister. He is grieving & I want to help her out.
Some really easy things to do are to call or text people, send a card or email. If you have time spend some of it with others-just sit with them while they talk. It really isn’t that hard to brighten someone’s day. My pastor’s wife sends me texts periodically telling me she’s praying for me–I work in a Covid unit at hospital. It makes my day so much better.
Becky Keife says
Those are all great ideas, Beth!!
Josephine Broderick says
Your message is a blessing.
Becky Keife says
Thank you, Josephine.
Pastor Gwen Tackett says
I love this !! Intentional kindness changes lives and builds friendships We are to encourage one another daily and yet we procrastinate because we feel the moment is not perfect Thank you. This is so beautiful …the heart of Jesus
Becky Keife says
Well said, Pastor Gwen. Thanks for letting me know this resonates with you.
Great article!! Our world needs more ‘simple’ kindness.
Thanks so much for reminding
Us how we make people feel
By being kind.
Today I’m especially thinking about kids in school that don’t
Feel a part of the groups.
Remember kids will remember
How wonderful they feel when
They are chosen..
Thank you Becky for giving me your gift of encouragement and confirmation. I am a 76 year old woman with very little monetary means and am no longer able to drive. So God has given me a job to do that requires nothing except my time and willingness to pray. Needless to say He keeps me busy.
I have an ongoing daily conversation with Him as He never leaves my side.
I keep in touch with my friends and acquaintances via texts and emails. I try to bring a smile and sometimes a little outright laughter to them.
Being acknowledged and thought of can make anyone’s day a little brighter.
When I was a younger woman living in Los Angeles, I worked downtown and I had a few blocks to walk from the bus stop to my job. People never smiled or said hello. So I decided to do that to everyone I passed by. People were shocked and weren’t sure how to respond to my hellos and good morning’s. We must become intentional in what we do. What I have found is that when I do this it actually lifts my spirits as well.
I like the phrase “be the person you want otters to be.”
Becky Keife says
I love your heart, Loretta. You have so much to give!
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Thank you Becky for what you shared today it is excellent. We can be people who help others that are not well or thoses who are struggling to pay bill feed their kids etc. If we have food left over. Like you said our Lord did when he fed 5000 plus people that would have been their that day. Plus all the kids that is why I said 5000 plus people. It shows us our Lord never turned anyone away. As they all came that day to hear our Lord speak. Many could have travelled miles to get to our Lord speak that day. But the Disciples that day wanted them to go and find there own food. But you see our Lord was so kind and thoughtful. The Disciples look at the crowd that day. They knew they were hungry. That is why they said to Our Lord tell them to go and get food as the hour is getting late. Jesus already knew how he was going to feed them. But before he fed them he put his Disciples to the test said. You give them something to eat. The Disciples said to them we only have five loaves and two fish. Sometimes in our life God put us to the test to see if we really love his people. That he could say like he did to Disciples You feed them. Meaning a family that has little or nothing if you know one when you have so much. You are not struggling. Or with little or nothing. So if that happened would you do it? Yes I would. As I been asked to cook meals for my Dad to help him out as he 81. Jesus asked me to do that for my Dad. Then you see the miracle. With the Disciples you see Jesus kindness and love. Jesus told the Disciples to bring the five loaves and two fishes over to him. Then Jesus to the people there that day to sit down. Then he took the fives loaves and two fishes and looked to his Father in Heaven and blessed and broke them. Gave them to people there that day. So everyone was fed no one was left out. When everyone had finished eating they saw the kindness and goodness of Jesus. We are to the same if we can. If we see a Family in need. That is struggling. We can go meal that meal for them. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or deer. Even just cheesy macaroni pasta. When you go that house with that meal. Even should it only cheesy macaroni pasta. You will see the big smile on that Mother’s face. To show you cared. That Mother will be so thankful you did that. Especially if struggling. To pay bills and fed her kids. That Mother will never forget you. For doing that. What you are doing is showing the love of Jesus to that Mother and her kids. That Mother might not be saved. But she might know you are saved. You never know what that can do. That Mother will go away with what ever you have made her. Say she might not that Mother say it too your face. There is Love and kindness in that person heart. You know it is your love and kindness for Jesus that made you do that. Like it says in Matthew 25 verse 35. It says “For I was hungry and you gave Me Food I was thirsty and you gave Me a drink I was a stranger you took me in.” What I mean by I was a stranger you took me in not into your home. But took that Mother and Family into you your heart as they could have been strangers to you. But you saw they needed to fed that Mother and her kids. You decided to help by make them something to eat. When you had plenty. How lovely that was. God above see you being the hands and feet of Jesus and helping someone in need. Plus by doing that you are showing the Love of Jesus to them. Like Jesus did that day to all the people who came to hear him speak. He did turn them away. Jesus showed them love by feeding them with the food that was there that day the five loaves and two fishes. He asked his Father to bless it by making it streach. So as everyone was fed that day plus the Children. You are being a blessing to that Mother if you do this too. Making your food streach to meet that Mother’s needs. Like I meet my Dad’s need by cooking meals for him to help him out. God sees all this that we do. If we do it with a great full heart and in the Love of Jesus like I do for my Dad. God will bless us for doing so. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
You’re speaking my love language! Unfortunately I had a strange thing happen a few years ago. I was welcoming my new Jewish neighbors to our neighborhood. I made a 6 layer salad which took lots of time since I’d never made this before. After I dropped it off and introduced myself about an hour later the husband came to my house with the salad. He returned it, saying they couldn’t eat it because of kosher food reasons. I’ve never had anything like this happen. But like you said after you dropped off the chocolate cake, your neighbor could have tossed it in the trash, had a gluten allergy etc. It was obedience to the Lord. I did what I heard the Lord speak to me. He handles the rest. Amen.
Gail Noe says
Love this!!!!! Thank you!
Brenda M. Russell says
Thank you for sharing.
I have wondered many times, “what if I miss what they really like or need.” I should not do that because I miss the opportunity of being kind to someone.
Kindness is not difficult, just ask God to lead you. Don’t be afraid to look or sound awkward. People need one another, that’s how God planned it for our benefit.
Sometimes I don’t budget well and it causes me stress because my husband is very meticulous when it comes to banking and finances. Even though I try very hard and then I explain what happened and that I am sorry, he just can’t help getting so upset. Then I get sad because I don’t get angry with him when he makes mistakes or does things I don’t like. Grace, Mercy and Forgiveness is what I need so I give it willingly.
Enjoy your evening.
Pearl Allard says
Becky, I love this. And I very much appreciate the encouragement that we don’t have to go all out; we can simply give what we DO have. Much needed. Thank you.
Live this! Serving in the cracks can be the best acts of service.
Praise the Lord! Becky, what a sweet, simple, lovely story! I loved every minute of reading it.
Every word you’ve said is true. Thank you for sharing. God bless you, kind, loving, generous girl.
Becky Keife says
Oh, your kind comment made my day! Thank you for reading and offering such sweet encouragement!