I have been doing this Christmas kindness thing officially for four years with my family and so many moments have surprised me.
And I want to warn you about a few things, if you are new to Light ‘Em Up or are doing any other random acts of kindness this holiday season.
The Surprise Challenges:
Resistance from your family.
Just because you’re excited about doing this, that doesn’t mean your family will be. The key is not to FORCE it on everyone – invite them. And try to let it be their idea. 😉 Give them the list of 100 ideas and let them pick. Start small. Maybe one thing. Let them experience it and catch the bug. Don’t punish a child for having a bad attitude. Invite them along and let them watch. You’ll be surprised at how they might come around.
Resistance from others.
Kindness is not normal in our world today. MOST of the time people are selling something. One man told me, “In all my years of construction, no one has ever done this for us.” (after we brought his crew cold water). So it’s not offensive if they are resistant. People are just cautious. It’s Ok! Just simply say, “Have a nice day! Merry Christmas.” Don’t push it. Or simply explain, “We are just trying to teach our kids the importance of giving to others and being kind.”
In a similar fashion, I have been shocked how resistant certain stores and places of businesses can be. Just try your BEST to stay polite and explain what you are doing. Always explain to your kids that kindness is unfortunately not normal and they think we are selling something. We have to be respectful and move on. There are people ALL over our towns that need love. We can just move on! These little moments prepare our kids well. They can’t get beat down and give up when they face resistance.
The Surprise Blessings…
I set out to change and light up others – and every time, I change. Every year, God changes me. I learn something about myself. I am pushed, moved, inspired and learn more internally. I gain more than I give.
Glimpse of heaven.
This sounds so cheesy, but when it all falls together and I see God working through my kids and the tears fall and needs are met … I get chills. It doesn’t happen every time we do Light ‘Em Up, but when it does, it feels like a little glimpse of heaven. It’s how we are supposed to love. Not just to our people or our friends. Not to the kindest neighbors – but to everyone. Meet the difficult needs and the easy needs. The big and the small tasks. Be available and willing. And when are kids start getting it and you see God’s love flow through them to another human. It feels like heaven on earth to me.
Visible & Tangible Rewards.
There are moments when we get to see the fruit of our acts of kindness – we get a hug or get to see the shocked faces and hope-filled eyes. That is so fun for our kids to see what they’ve done to another human. What a blessing. And then, they often press with “WHY?! WHY?! are you doing this?!” And those conversations are my favorite.
Wonder & Delayed Satisfaction.
Although the tangible reactions are sweet – there is something so valuable about a delayed reaction and the wonder of never knowing. We can sneak in like God’s hands and feet and do His work and then sneak away. Letting HIM get the glory. We may never know on this side of heaven what that act did – and we can explain this powerful thought to our kids. God knows. He will use it. It was for Him anyway – we just did our part.
Relationships & Community
A surprise for me out of Light ‘Em Up was the community and relationships. My mailman in Orlando is now my friend. Curlie from Magic Kingdom is now my friend. People that were formally strangers start to matter to your heart. And community happens.
People get all mushy and generous and in the spirit during December. That’s when I started it. And then it happened. I got hooked. And now, this is us. Year round. It’s how we do life every day. Looking for ways for God to insert our lives with the needs of those around us. How a smile, a hug, a paid bill, anything – can be used for His glory. There are opportunities every single day – big and small. I crave it and Him.
I hope you won’t get discouraged by the challenges. Use them as a chance to shine even when someone is rude. Jesus called us to love all people – not just our favorites. I feel out of my comfort zone too – and it’s all good experiences for us and our kids to get out there.
What has surprised you about being KIND in today’s culture? Have you faced any road blocks or surprising moments?
Be sure to add your city, state, country on the 2015 Light Em Blog post right over here ! The list is growing!