My husband Mike has been rolling out of bed to play early morning basketball for nearly a decade now. It is something he looks forward to—in many ways the highlight of his busy and stressful day. Recently something happened at morning basketball that inspired deep gratitude in me. It was a random act of kindness. A friend (though he was really only an acquaintance at the time) first observed and then served my husband.
Now you have to understand some things about Mike. He’s the kind of man that is always serving others. Unless he’s buying ice cream, he just doesn’t spend money on himself. It’s my job to replace things that wear out, because he just won’t.
The truth is that he went for a very long time playing basketball on very old shoes. And because I don’t watch him play, I wasn’t aware of his desperate need. But his basketball friends noticed and even joked with him about it every now and again. Mike never said a word to me.
One player took particular interest and began striking up casual conversations with my husband in between games. This player didn’t have much in common with Mike. He was twenty years younger, a university student, with no wife or children. But that was of little matter to this young man who began sleuthing information so covertly that Mike suspected nothing.
He slipped the question, “Are you partial to Adidas or does brand even matter?” into one conversation.
“I see you are wearing low tops. Do you like them better than high tops?” he asked another occasion.
I’m not sure how he did it, but somehow he even sleuthed out Mike’s shoe size.
A few days later, this man came to basketball with a box under his arm. He handed the box to my husband and asked, “What do you think of these shoes?”
“They’re great!” Mike replied.
The young man smiled, “They’re yours!”
Mike, of course, was appreciative and gracious. When he came home sporting his new shoes, however, my initial response was different. I felt a pang of embarrassment. We can certainly afford to buy our own shoes, I thought. We don’t need someone else wasting money on us. But as I pondered what had taken place, a sense of humble gratitude swelled within me. Somebody cared about my husband. Somebody observed his need and went out of his way to bless his life.
I was overwhelmed with a feeling—a feeling I can only describe as this world is a wonderful place.
Strange that simple kindness can powerfully reinforce our faith in all that is good.
I suddenly had the desire to serve others in the same spontaneous way. And I knew that I could do it. Every day God places people in my path who need my kindness. If I have eyes quick to observe and hands quick to serve, I can ignite a fire of optimism in those whom I encounter, just like this young man did in me.
Some things in our world may persist in darkness, but goodness multiplies every time we make simple kindness a priority.