“Be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Wounded people are suspicious people.
I felt sorry for the office people in my gated community. Early in the morning, they sent out a phone tree message that water in the community would be shut off due to a water main break; they would restore water as quickly as possible.
The complaints on the Facebook group page went into high gear. People didn’t get the message. It was from an unfamiliar number. Why didn’t they keep up with repairs better? After all, we’re paying so much for lot rent. And on and on. Then the water had to be turned off yet again the next day. Same song, louder second verse.
If I were in the shoes of the office staff, I thought, I’d feel like I was having a bad day. So, since my husband and I are trying to combat the negativity in our community by finding chances to be positive and affirming, I decided to show a bit of kindness. I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies to give to the office staff.
The receptionist’s response surprised me.
When I said I realized it probably had been a bad day with the water problems, she responded, “I have to ask: Are you being sarcastic? Is there anything harmful in those cookies?”
Actually, I had hesitated to make cookies, realizing it wasn’t smart to accept food gifts from strangers. If I were her, it would be perfectly acceptable to say, “Thank you” and land a certain cookie plate in the trash. I had decided to take the risk and do it anyway, thinking my concerns were trite. Not so. She explained that once there had been someone who once brought in a food gift and well, let’s just say, the entire office had the trots the next day.
No wonder she was suspicious of my cookies. She and others had been hurt.
It sounded horrible. I wanted to do something kind, but the reaction was one of fear and distrust. But haven’t we all reacted to deep hurt in the same way? It’s hard to trust again. It’s hard to trust other people who are innocent. It must be a common feeling because Billy Joel sings about it in “An Innocent Man.”
I’ve been guilty of rebuffing kindness too.
I thought of the time my older brother brought me a gift. A typical older brother, he teased me unmercifully when we were kids. He was into electronics and had an electricity kit. He told me he was going to sneak into my bedroom while I was asleep and shock me. With wide-eyed, ten-year-old gullibility, I asked what I could do to stop him. “Nothing,” he said, “But if you rub lotion into your arms, it won’t hurt as bad.”
I rubbed lotion on my arms for a solid month.
Then he brought me a chocolate covered frozen banana from Dairy Queen. Unknown to him, the banana inside was rotten. I had a fit. I turned on him and accused him of all kinds of nasty things. Finally, I burst into tears and stomped off to my room. Before the door slammed, I heard him say to my mother, “Gee, I was just trying to do something nice for her.”
Past hurt makes it hard to trust.
Wounded people surround us. All of us know someone who has been a victim of theft, extortion, abuse, or manipulation in some way. They need love and kindness, but they are so wounded, they have trouble accepting the gift for fear they’ll be taken advantage of. Again.
So, do we not bake cookies? Repair broken roofs? Listen to broken hearts?
We do. We take the risk. And we do it again and again. We prove our love and trustworthiness by doing it a second and third time, so we help the wounded person build up a cache of good, positive experiences. A missionary once told me that, in order to reach a certain religious group with the Gospel, we must do 100 acts of kindness before they’ll even begin to listen to our message, and that those 100 acts have to come from more than one person.
If someone rejects your act of kindness, it’s not against you.
They are merely showing the level of their past woundedness. Take it as a cry of “Love me again. Prove that I can trust kindness.”
Have you ever had a gift of kindness rebuffed? Don’t let it discourage you. Those acts of kindness will put flesh on God’s love and will help heal the deeper wounds of the wounded. You may never see the results of your acts of mercy, but you can trust that God will use your kindness to work in the heart of the recipient, helping them to rebuild their trust.
Jill’s Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies is a great recipe you can use to do a kindness reach out.
For another aspect of loving others through our actions, check out my Arise Daily devotion, “Loving Till They Change.”
Do your wounds from the past tempt you to be suspicious of the motivations of kind people? Ask God for discernment, look at the character of the person, and take a small step of risk. if you have trouble wondering why God would want to be kind to you, I dare you to trust Him. He is trustworthy and will never let you down. Let Proverbs 3:5,6 be a frequent reminder to you to put your trust in God, not in your own insights.