Contagious kindness

Pastoral Messages | March 5, 2020

I saw something amazing happen in the hospital lobby this week. It started with a young man in scrubs. I’m not sure if he was just having a great day or if every day he encountered people with radiant eyes and huge smile. But that afternoon he greeted everyone he saw with a grin. And from that one young man, joy spread around that lobby with abandon.

First the volunteer at the front desk grinned, and I watched as she smiled more than usual at the person asking questions. A group of nurses caught the joy. In the seconds after they passed the young man, they leaned toward each other with new lightness in their step.

And then, he walked by a man in a wheelchair, on his way home after being discharged. His face was wrinkled in pain or worry, or both. His wife walked alongside him, looking weary, pulling his big oxygen tank. Behind him was a young man who worked at the hospital, pushing the wheelchair, his face flat from boredom or concentration.

But then the radiant young man gave the wheelchair pusher a grin and one of those reverse nods. He smiled back and his whole demeanor transformed. He suddenly was present to the world and his patient right in front of him. He leaned forward as he said something to the man in the wheelchair, who laughed and said something in return. And at that sound of laughter, I watched his wife visibly relax.

That one man infected the whole lobby with his joy. I had been spending days repeatedly washing my hands, for good reason, to protect myself and others from sickness. But the one thing I saw infecting all of us that afternoon was joy – a simple happiness that grows from human connection and a sense of being seen.

As followers of Jesus, we can be people of contagious kindness. Thankfully, joy can spread in small, but powerful ways – a smile and gracious eyes, a head nod and attentive words. There’s no risk to these simple acts of spreading kindness, only the benefits that come when we remember we’re not alone and when we trust that connection can diminish our fear.

So, let’s be contagious with God’s loving kindness in our lives. As Paul wrote church in Thessalonica: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

-Sara Olson-Smith, associate pastor

10 Comments on “Contagious kindness”

  • anke maass

    March 10, 2020 at 4:10 pm

    I wish I could send this little note that my mom had in her treasures…as it is in her handwriting and is written how she heard it!!! It makes me smile everytime I look at it. thanks for the reminder of just a smile that changes a mood!!!

  • Sandi Wright

    March 7, 2020 at 12:33 pm

    Thank you Sara for this wonderful message! It is so true and inspiring!

    • Carol Seitz

      March 9, 2020 at 10:15 am

      It takes so little energy and is so powerful. SMILE!

  • Chatlotte Monical

    March 6, 2020 at 3:54 pm

    Thank you Sarah for this great message. You have one I’d those infectious smiles that always makes me happy to see! It’s a wonderful reminder to all of us of what we can do to spread a little joy to those around us!

  • Lucia Moore

    March 6, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Sunshine is good but nothing brings joy to others like a radiant smile.Thank-you for sharing this. This is what we all need these days.

  • Allyson Miller

    March 6, 2020 at 9:08 am

    This made my day yesterday! I loved it so much I shared with a lot of people at work, all of whom thought it was great as well. ?

  • Vida Luth

    March 5, 2020 at 8:07 pm

    A smile or a friendly hello is magic to those who receive it. Your story reinforces that with the young man in the lobby. Smiles are contagious, you are correct!

  • Rick Beorkrem

    March 5, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    I love this! It reminds me of one Sunday when I was a boy. My sister was sick so I had to walk a lonely, long way to church . I thought about how Jesus is my friend. After the sermon, the song started: “Stand up, stand up, for Jesus…”. I was amazed that not one person stood up: was everyone not showing their love toward Jesus, my friend?
    I was one of the first out the front door. I stopped a little to the side… purposely in plain sight, watching the worshipers come out. Feeling lonely, I was hoping someone would greet me. No one spoke to me. No one smiled at me. No one even acknowledge me with a slight nod of the head. My heart was heavy during my long way back home. As an adult, many times, when entering or leaving a service, when I spot a young boy or a young man, alone, I walk over to him.

    I look him right in the eye and say: “Hi! How are you, today?” Keeping eye contact, I pause and wait for him to respond. If he doesn’t respond, I smile and tell him: “It’s nice to see you… here… today.” Not wanting him to be scared, of a stranger, I walk away.

    Remembering that boy, long ago…I leave feeling real good, inside.

  • Lisa Miller

    March 5, 2020 at 4:01 pm

    Wonderful story to share, thanks Sara. Just think of what this world would be like if everyone was just kind…heaven perhaps?

  • Mary Jorth

    March 5, 2020 at 2:47 pm

    What a lovely reminder, Sara, thank you. You exude that joy always. We are all blessed by you.

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