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The Power of Kindness

From Psalm 80

Shannon and me, Strong Memorial Hospital, July 2010

In 2010, several days after my rodding surgery and after two knee-length casts were placed on both legs, I was moved to a post-op recovery room, where I first met Shannon.

She was one of the younger nurses who took care of me during my two-week stay at Strong Memorial. She had a contagious smile, wore the cutest shoes, and treated me more like a friend than a patient.

I spent several afternoons under her care, but I remember one clearly. It had been about a week since I’d arrived at the hospital and given my casts and sutures—not to mention the agonizing pain that came with any leg movement whatsoever—I had yet to shower. So my naturally oily hair (which had already collected about a week’s worth of grease) combined with lingering lake-water residue, making for a whole ’nother level of oiliness even a ponytail couldn’t hide.

In walks Shannon, one sunny afternoon, with a small plastic tub of warm water. “We’re going to wash your hair.“

When I write the words, it seems simple and so … unimportant. But the extra time she took scrubbing and rinsing and the thought she put into bringing her own bottles of shampoo and conditioner because, her words, they smelled “way better than the hospital’s” made me forget for an afternoon that I was a trauma victim in a hospital. Instead, I got to be like any other twenty-one-year-old girl.

It was a small thing and, no doubt, if you asked Shannon, she’d say she was just doing her job. But for me, it was rejuvenating in a way I can’t explain. I felt a lot of things that week—fear for my future, confusion and anger over what had happened, embarrassment because of hospital gowns and bedpans and, yeah, greasy hair. But in that moment, I felt pretty again. And I was reminded that grease can be washed, casts are temporary, and wounds can heal.

Shannon lifted my spirits to the point that even now, almost ten years later, I remember her and still feel grateful. Sometimes the simple things—really, the kind things—make the biggest and most impressionable difference.

In Psalm 80, three times, the psalmist pleaded on behalf of Israel:

“God, take us back. Show us your kindness so we can be saved.” (v. 3)
“God All-Powerful, take us back. Show us your kindness so we can be saved.” (v. 7)
“LORD God All-Powerful, take us back. Show us your kindness so we can be saved.” (v. 19)

These words remind me that kindness does more than make big impressions. Kindness has the power to save.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). This simplifies the discussion, doesn’t it? I’ve heard lots of arguments—people asking, albeit good questions, about who is a real Christian and how do we know? This is how we know: How well do we love? How often are we kind? How much do we go out of our way, sacrificing our own time and resources, to help another in need?

We could be a missionary, or a teacher, or some kind of church leader—all in an attempt to follow Jesus’ example, seeking and saving the lost. But maybe it’s simpler than that too. Maybe we can make a big and lasting and powerfully saving difference in this world simply by being kind.

Hopefully yours,

Author, blog, Christian

Next Week’s Reading: Psalm 82–88.


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