The 13-year-old boy laid in his hospital bed, staring miserably at the TV screen. Blues Clues. He hated Blues Clues. He contemplated throwing the telephone at the TV screen. It was day 2 in the hospital after having his grand mal seizure. Combined with his rare muscle disease, he was in unbearable amounts of pain. It was the lowest low he had experienced in a very long time. He couldn’t move well enough to find the remote to change the channel. He was so helpless, he could not even control what he was forced to stare at as he suffered in silence. As Blue’s Clues continued to dance on the screen, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness drove his depression to a new low.
A nurse, a man, walked into the hospital room and looked at the pain that must have been radiating from the boy’s face.
“You probably want to watch something else,” he said, as he found the remote control.
The boy nodded and muttered a desperate, “yeah.”
The nurse found a show on the History Channel about the Pyramids, tucked the remote near the boy’s hand, and left the room.
It was in that moment that the boy went from his focal point of depression, to having just enough hope, he knew he could fight to get better.
I have no doubt in my mind, that that nurse has absolutely no idea what that tiny act of kindness meant to my husband as a 13-year-old boy. Seventeen years later, Nathan can vividly remember the kindness shown to him by a stranger, in a moment of utter helplessness. It was the kindness of that stranger that allowed him to change his attitude just enough to be able to see something positive. It was enough to help him see that he could fight to get better.
I’m sure that nurse did not walk into that room believing he was going to change a little boy’s perspective towards life by changing the channel on the TV. I’m sure that he walked away, took care of countless patients throughout the remainder of his shift, and no longer remembers the little boy with a passion for history. It was not his intention that resulted in impact, it was a simple act of kindness.
Kindness contains a power of inexplicable consequence. It is impossible for us to fully understand the potential of the ripple effect it has on the world around us.
What would have happened to that little boy in this hospital bed, had that nurse not changed the channel for him? It is impossible to know. You could guess an infinite number of scenarios. Regardless of the guessing game, I for one, and eternally grateful for the kindness he showed to my husband, that allowed him to see enough good in the world to keep fighting.
I tell this story in order to illustrate the point that you never know the impact your actions can have, positive or negative. You never know what the person next to you is going through. You never know the difference one kind word can make in the life of a friend, family member, or stranger.
A kind word, a smile, a hug, a cup of coffee, a chocolate chip cookie. None of these things are life-changing revelations. But the kindness behind each of them contains a power that is infinitely more impactful than we could ever understand.
This month for Picking Poppies, I want to encourage you to consider the frequency with which you show kindness to the world around you.
Would you be willing to commit to one act of kindness per day, for the next 30 days? As shown in the story above, kindness can be shown even the smallest of actions.
What does it mean to commit to this?
Commit to one act of kindness for the next 30 days. When you do something kind, write it down. Keep the list for yourself, to look at as a reminder of the kindness you have shown. If you are willing, share a story or two with me, so we can spread stories of love and kindness. The world needs to hear more about those stories. I will be doing 30 days of kindness. But I don’t want to share my stories with you, I want to share your stories with the world. Get ahold of me, and let me help you spread stories of kindness.
Thank you so much for participating in Picking Poppies. These monthly episodes have come to be such a meaningful thing in honor of Ayden, who has inspired us to live each day with intention, always focusing on love and kindness.
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