Random Acts of Kindness 

Sickness can be lonelifying. Not to mention depressing. So it goes without saying that simple acts of kindness in the midst of sickness can go a long way. 

I’ve been sick for the past few weeks. This week, while resigning myself to another lonely week of persistent nausea (I’ve got enough nausea to light Sydney on fire) and other medical nuisances, I received a self-care package from a friend. It contained herbal tea, a candle and a blanket, all of which I have used this week. That simple act of kindness has made my week, and made it more bearable. 

That simple act of kindness has made my week, and made it more bearable.

I have been the unwitting recipient of other acts of kindness during past illnesses. One time, I was sitting in my doctor’s surgery bent double with pain. It felt like some one had taken a screwdriver to my eardrum. As I waited my turn, the doctor came out and called another patient’s name. She stood to her feet, pointed to me and said, ‘You can go first. You need it more than I do.’ I have never forgotten her random act of kindness. 

By the way, that particular ailment was shingles in the ear, for anyone playing at home. Ouch. 

Another time, I was sitting in ED in hospital, waiting to be taken in. The triage nurse had seen me and given me Endone for the pain, but I vomited it back up. I was in so much pain I was crying. A fellow patient started advocating for me. ‘Hey,’ she called to the nurse, ‘can’t you do something for her? She’s obviously in pain!’ 

Even though the nurses couldn’t do anything more for me until I saw the doctor, that patient’s advocacy meant the world to me. It meant I was seen. It meant that even though I was suffering, I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to face it alone. It made all the difference. 

Even though I was suffering, I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t have to face it alone.

It’s hard to receive acts of kindness when we’re used to being the giver. It’s even harder to ask for them when we need them. During this recent illness, I’ve tried to practise asking more often. I’ve reached out to loved ones, asking for prayer. I’ve accepted offers of phone calls and visits. I’ve let people know when I’m feeling lonely. 

It’s not easy to be vulnerable. Illness induces a particularly vulnerable state of being. But we don’t have to do it alone. 

During this current episode of sickness, I’ve also seen acts of kindness from God. I’ve received phone calls after praying for companionship. I’ve felt the softness of his company as he sits through this illness with me. And I’ve received stories in dreams, inspiration for fictional writing. Such things are sheer gifts. I’ve done nothing to earn them. They are true kindnesses. 

Such things are sheer gifts…They are true kindnesses.

I’m grateful to friends, strangers and the Lord for their random acts of kindness toward me. I hope to pay it forward when I’m better. 

Have you experienced random acts of kindness during periods of illness or other vulnerability? What difference did those acts make to you? How can you pay it forward this week? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

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