Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Think about that quote for just a moment.
How often do we make excuses to keep us from doing something kind--I'm too tired. I'm too busy. That person probably doesn't want my help anyway. I barely even know her. What if he doesn't want my help? She wasn't nice to me, why should be kind back?
I know I have before. But it's a funny thing when you make an effort to be kind in the face of doubts or concerns... when I did it anyway, I felt energized. I realized that maybe I wasn't quite as busy as I thought--that some things are worth making time for. I remembered the times when someone I barely knew did something kind for me and changed the course of a bad day. I realized that being kind to someone who hasn't been nice to me makes me feel better, ironically.
Sharing your light can do nothing but spread more light. It can't take away anything from you.
Many years ago, at a church function, I felt left out. We were fairly new to the neighborhood, but it had been at least a few months since we'd moved in, and I still didn't really have any friends. We lived in a town-home and the women who lived in regular homes didn't really pay much attention to those of us who lived in the town-homes probably because they figured we were transient. We wouldn't be there long term, so why make an effort? I felt so alone. There was a weekday activity one month that I almost didn't go to. I was nervous that I wouldn't have anyone to talk to. But I decided to go anyway. And guess what?
I was mostly ignored.
I was hurt and felt more alone than ever. It was like a flashback to middle school, except now I was married and pregnant with my first child. Until I noticed another girl, about my age, sitting at table, talking a little bit to some women by her. I don't remember if I introduced myself to her, or if she eventually said hi to me. All I remember is that we found out we had the same name, but spelled differently, that she'd just had a baby about six months ago, that she lived across the street from me, and that was about it. We talked for maybe two or three minutes, but that was the most I said to anyone that night. She said, "we should hang out sometime" but I, in my own insecurity, didn't think she really wanted to. That she was just saying that because it's what you say.
I went home sad, even a little depressed. But for some reason, I kept thinking about that girl--the one who spelled her name with an 'h.' I'd made some bread earlier that day and for some reason, I felt very strongly impressed that I should take a loaf to her. To write her a little note and thank her for talking to me and being kind. I was nervous. She'll think I'm crazy. She'll be annoyed. She probably didn't like me.
But I did it.
When I didn't hear back from her right away, I started to worry that she thought I was nuts, or had somehow been offended by my effort to be kind. But she did call me, and told me that she'd been feeling the exact same things as me, and she'd been there for a lot longer than me. We began to get to know each other, and were soon inseparable. Eight years later, she is still one of my best friends. We've been there for each other through our children's births, through moves, through post-partum depression, through surgeries, through losing our babies, through happiness and tears and joy and pain. We've moved away from each other and then moved back by each other. She and her family have been a blessing in my and my family's lives, and hopefully I have been one to her, too.
All because I took a chance and delivered one loaf of bread with a little note. I stopped thinking about myself and my own insecurities for half a second and gained a dear friend for life.
Not all acts of kindness will have that far-reaching of effects. But, then again, you never really know. Sometimes one light in the darkness can make all the difference in the world.