Ours is a weighty world right now, isn’t it? Where are the carefree days of summer, a mid-year break from responsibility, work, and maybe even most of your worries? Even if you’re able to get away for a few days, it’s impossible to escape the gravity of pandemic and politics and protests. Is there any way to make the world around us a bit brighter?
When I wasn’t even thinking about it, I found an answer. Actually, it was a simple reminder that showed up in the most unexpected of places — on a bag of chips.
Friends recently invited us for a weekend visit, and we had jumped at the chance. Though we’ve been protected (so far) from COVID, cabin fever had set in. That, the monotony of our days, and the ridiculous heat and humidity of middle Georgia had us packing our bags. Almost five months into the practice of distancing, we craved proximity.
Rain threatened to dampen my enthusiasm right when we got to our friends’ home, but I wasn’t having it — especially the irony of not having seen a drop in weeks (bless my veggie patch’s withering heart), and now it decides to pour? But after a lifetime of living in the South, I knew it would pass soon enough.
So, we slipped into our swimsuits and gathered all the things we needed for an afternoon on the lake — eats and drinks and towels and sunscreen. We waited for the storm to pass and caught up with each others’ lives. Pretty soon and just as expected, the sun chased away the clouds. We took our queue and hit the water.
Maybe an hour into our boat ride, my husband dove into the snacks. He walked over to me with a grin on his face, and I realized he was eating forbidden fruit to a man on a low carb diet — potato chips. And not just any potato chip, but the beloved choice of my youth — Lay’s barbecue chips. He held out the bag, and I inhaled deeply, wondering how in the world something so right could be so wrong. In a sweet and selfless gesture, Tad said, “Just two more” and handed over the rest.
While waxing nostalgic, I reached in to grab a handful (no one can eat just one, right?), and it was then I noticed something on the front of the bag, a little message of encouragement:
Be kind today and . . .
Ask someone how they’re feeling.
The message resonated immediately. How many times have I asked that very question over the last five months? How many times has someone asked me that question? We’ve been swimming in the same COVID-infested waters for months now, and it has taken a toll on all of us. Couple that with on-going racial tensions and our current political climate, and I imagine we’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I couldn’t wait to get back to our friends’ house to dig through the rest of the chip bags to see what messages were on them. Sure enough, each type of chip had a different message—
Be kind today and . . .
Show you care by helping out.
Stand up for someone.
Tell someone you appreciate them.
My marketing brain loved the intentional product packaging and design. I applauded Lay’s for including positive and affirming messages (especially for children), for encouraging kindness, and offering suggestions how to do so.
As I sat on the boat among friends, spirits lifted and alone in my thoughts, I marveled at God’s kindness and how a little bag of chips could preach good news to me. As an empty nester with my kids scattered over three states, family out of town, and friends hunkered down, I’ve had intense bouts of loneliness and even low-grade depression over the last few months. While a great thing happened this year – my first book released! – the world has turned upside-down, and the personal implications have been disheartening. I miss corporate worship, going out to eat, seeing the bottom half of people’s faces. I miss all the “normal” things I took for granted. I’ve grown weary.
I teeter-totter between “fine” and “un-fine” day to day, hour to hour, and sometimes moment to moment. As someone who can always find silver linings and bright sides, I do see God at work. But more than ever, I’ve sensed spiritual warfare and realized we aren’t made for this world. We’re made for something more, something better.
Right now our nation is polarized. Civil discourse can be elusive. But kindness will always make the world a better place. We can make make that happen right now.
For starters, love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). All of 1 Corinthians 13 offers us practical ways to express love and kindness. Ephesians 4:32 tells us kindness is tenderhearted and forgiving. Galatians 6:10 says “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.” We may not know the details of suffering for those around us, but beneath the surface we’re all battling something. The kindness of others may be exactly what we need.
Scripture speaks to kindness in the Old Testament to the New, and one of the most interesting verses to me is Proverbs 11:17 (ESV):
A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.
Being kind benefits others, but it also does ourselves good. As I extend kindness to the people around me, it offers me a return blessing. It might seem elementary, but it doesn’t diminish the truth: being kind is the easiest way to make our world a better place. Right here, right now.
We may not know the details of suffering for those around us, but beneath the surface we're all battling something. The kindness of others may be exactly what we need. -@robindance: Click To Tweet Leave a Comment
Michele Green says
what a timely devotion! You have summed up all my feelings and spoken so much truth. Thank you for this encouraging word. I can relate on so many levels. The one week we finally went to visit friends we wound up being exposed to Covid, my husband got sick, he is still dealing with symptoms, I’ve been fine but we had to to go through the whole isolation thing and then the guilt I felt about possibly exposing my grandchildren. It was so easy to give in to being depressed and lonely and all those other feelings. But my God is able and He sent encouragement and support through friends. The kindness of others is what got me through!!
Robin Dance says
Today, my hope was to shine light :). That these words encouraged YOU help me to see God’s kindness! Isn’t that lovely? I am so sorry your husband got sick, but thankful he sounds better (albeit still battling symptoms :/.). Small gestures of kindness DO minister a sweet grace. I’m glad people in your life are offering this to you in this season!
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
Now, more than ever, it has really hit home to me that we aren’t made for this world…there truly is something better to look forward to. So often we are willing to settle for a “tootsie roll” – the material and fleeting riches that this earthly world offers, when what God really wants for us is a “Godiva Bar” (please excuse my analogy…I love chocolate). He wants us to set our sights on the prize – the crown of glory that awaits us. Eternity is what we were made for. So what is this this “not yet” season all about? I think that God is trying to get our attention and wants us to be about His business which is sharing the love of Jesus (and yes, God can use a bag of potato chips) with those who don’t yet know His love and mercy. I believe this is a test of sorts, for believers, to see just what we’re made of. What is our reaction when the rubber meets the road? Not only can we make the world a wee bit better right now, we can increase the circle in heaven if we’re willing to be brave and step outside our comfort zone. Let’s keep passing the chips! Great post!
Robin Dance says
Bev!! CHOCOLATE ANALOGIES??? You win the prize today! Great word picture, friend. God has such sweet things awaiting us, and yes, He loves and wants ALL of us. Your comment is so spot on…thank you for sharing your thoughts.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Yes kindness will make the world a better place. No matter even if it a family member that doesn’t show you kindness. You show them the hand of Jesus. Even if they are not saved. I know my own Dad not saved. He at times doesn’t show me kindness. But even if I was not saved I still would show him kindness. I have forgiven him for things he done to me in the past. That I probably will not get a sorry for. I might get it one day if he get saved. But I will always show him kindness as saved plus if not saved as it says in the Bible honour your Mother and Father. Plus because I love him. I pray for his Salvation. We saved have to do what Jesus would want us to do that is be kind loving and caring to all people of the world. No matter what skin colour they have. Love them from the heart and pray for them. I would do that even if I was not saved. I if I see something one the news or see something or hear something. I go into prayer there and then if can quietly to myself. If not later on that day. For what ever it is. If my Family need my help I will try and help them. I pray for their Salvation as I am the only one saved along with my Husband. My Family say I am too kind and caring for my own good. I like to make and try to make the world a better place. Tell people that I am praying for them. Like I do for you all in incourage pray for you all. All the way from the other side of the world in Enniskillen Co. Fermanagh N.Ireland. As a song I was taught in Sunday School when small. It is Jesus hands were kind hand doing good to all. That is so true. I like to be like Jesus if I can and like the words of that song to all the people that cross my path. To make the world a better place. Show the Love of Jesus everywhere I go in this world. Thank you for another excellent reading XXX
Robin Dance says
I didn’t know you were from Ireland, Dawn! Wow…learning that after all this time made me smile. Thank you for being such a great support to our community. We are so grateful for your prayers!
Thanks for this today, Robin! I always love your writing and I’m curious if you’ve written more about being empty nesters with kids in 3 states? About to be empty nesters ourselves as well as in laws, and would love to hear more about how to love and parent well from afar and when your kids will be living near their spouse’s parents, but hours / states from you. I know this has bit to be a common challenge these days. Maybe you’ve written on such in the past from your experience?
Robin Dance says
Annie!! You made my day with your sweet comment :). I’ve really written very little online the past several years, but maybe I should reconsider? I *do* have an “empty nest” category on my blog if you’re interested, but it’s not quite what you’re looking for (I think): http://robindance.me/2018/04/inspired-to-inspire.html
Thank you for challenging me to write about this…If you sign up for emails on my blog, you’ll get updates if/when I pursue this ( http://eepurl.com/dkH4uv ). In the meantime, HUGS to you!