My favorite spot as a four-year-old was under the tamarind tree in our front yard, playing with coconut shells from my mom’s kitchen. I could spend hours pretending to cook in the shade of that giant tree. Once in a while, I would play in my cousin’s yard across the street, throwing rocks at the baby mangoes and watching them fall off the branches. I loved those sour mangoes, especially when they were sprinkled with some salt and chili powder. We would also find little wildflowers; my favorites were the tiny ones that looked like daisies.
Growing up in India, I didn’t have a lot of store-bought toys. I was always exploring nature and creating fun with the things I found outside. Now, before you feel bad for me and imagine scenes from the movie Slum Dog Millionaire, let me give you the full picture. I was actually born into an upper middle-class family in India. I had everything I needed. My dad worked in the middle east and my mom’s entire family lived in the USA. I was attending a private Catholic school and grew up with maids, nannies, and a driver. I wasn’t really missing anything. But sometimes you don’t know what you are missing until someone shows you.
One summer, my mom’s aunt was visiting from America, and she brought a gift for me; it was a baby doll. It was fair, with big brown eyes and brown yarn for hair. That Cabbage Patch doll became my favorite toy. We were inseparable. I took that little doll everywhere until eventually she was no longer fair, but looked more like me! There is something magical about a little girl and her baby doll. I never knew it until I got her.
I didn’t realize until much later in life that Cabbage Patch dolls were super popular in America around the time I got mine. My great-aunt could have just bought me a random doll from the dollar store and I wouldn’t have known the difference, but she was so kind and generous that she got this little girl who had never seen a baby doll, the same doll that all the other little girls wanted.
Her gift is one that I often think about because it was more than just a doll for me. It was an act of kindness. When we think of kindness, we think of giving someone what they need or want. Kindness is so much more. When we extend kindness to people, we are showing them what they deserve, whether it is dignity, honor, or love. I didn’t need a baby doll or even know to want one, but my aunt believed that every little girl deserves to have one. And she chose the best for me to remind me that I am loved.
So I define kindness as “Love, and then some.”
Jesus lived out this “love, and then some” kindness. When Jesus encountered the woman with the issue of blood, we see this displayed so well. This woman was desperate for healing and her faith brought her to Jesus. “She had heard the reports about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, ‘If I touch even his garments, I will be made well’” (Mark 5:27-28).
Her act of faith came to fruition, as she got her healing at that moment. Her story could have been over at this sentence but Jesus stops, looks at her, and waits for her to share her story. Jesus was on His way to save a little girl who was on her deathbed — He didn’t have to stop. He already knew this woman’s story because He is God, but He made space for her to share in front of that crowd. Do you see His kindness towards her? Due to her illness, society labeled her as unclean, so she probably lived alone, rejected by her community, and hidden like she didn’t matter. She felt unworthy to touch Him, so she settled to touch the hem of his garment, the part that would have been dirty from dragging on the ground. She came to Him needing physical healing, but Jesus showed her “love and then some” as He extended kindness to give her dignity, calling her “Daughter.”
Jesus gave her what she was really missing.
He does the same for us. Jesus didn’t just die to save us from eternal damnation; His generous kindness, mercy, compassion, grace, and love are with us every single day. In the original language, all of those words are summed up as hesed; the Holy Spirit is the ultimate gift of hesed, because He is God with us, dwelling in us to remind us that we are children of God. As it affirms in Romans 8:16, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
Like the little girl who didn’t realize what treasure her heart had been missing, like the woman who suffered alone for twelve years — we all go through seasons of not knowing what we really need. Whether you are lonely or doubting or in pain, the Holy Spirit whispers your name, Daughter. You are beloved. Lean into His voice today and be filled up with God’s “love and then some.”