Ours is a weighty world right now, isn’t it? Where are the carefree days of summer, a mid-year break from responsibility, work, and maybe even most of your worries? Even if you’re able to get away for a few days, it’s impossible to escape the gravity of pandemic and politics and protests. Is there any way to make the world around us a bit brighter?
When I wasn’t even thinking about it, I found an answer. Actually, it was a simple reminder that showed up in the most unexpected of places — on a bag of chips.
Friends recently invited us for a weekend visit, and we had jumped at the chance. Though we’ve been protected (so far) from COVID, cabin fever had set in. That, the monotony of our days, and the ridiculous heat and humidity of middle Georgia had us packing our bags. Almost five months into the practice of distancing, we craved proximity.
Rain threatened to dampen my enthusiasm right when we got to our friends’ home, but I wasn’t having it — especially the irony of not having seen a drop in weeks (bless my veggie patch’s withering heart), and now it decides to pour? But after a lifetime of living in the South, I knew it would pass soon enough.
So, we slipped into our swimsuits and gathered all the things we needed for an afternoon on the lake — eats and drinks and towels and sunscreen. We waited for the storm to pass and caught up with each others’ lives. Pretty soon and just as expected, the sun chased away the clouds. We took our queue and hit the water.
Maybe an hour into our boat ride, my husband dove into the snacks. He walked over to me with a grin on his face, and I realized he was eating forbidden fruit to a man on a low carb diet — potato chips. And not just any potato chip, but the beloved choice of my youth — Lay’s barbecue chips. He held out the bag, and I inhaled deeply, wondering how in the world something so right could be so wrong. In a sweet and selfless gesture, Tad said, “Just two more” and handed over the rest.
While waxing nostalgic, I reached in to grab a handful (no one can eat just one, right?), and it was then I noticed something on the front of the bag, a little message of encouragement:
Be kind today and . . .
Ask someone how they’re feeling.
The message resonated immediately. How many times have I asked that very question over the last five months? How many times has someone asked me that question? We’ve been swimming in the same COVID-infested waters for months now, and it has taken a toll on all of us. Couple that with on-going racial tensions and our current political climate, and I imagine we’re all sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I couldn’t wait to get back to our friends’ house to dig through the rest of the chip bags to see what messages were on them. Sure enough, each type of chip had a different message—
Be kind today and . . .
Show you care by helping out.
Stand up for someone.
Tell someone you appreciate them.
My marketing brain loved the intentional product packaging and design. I applauded Lay’s for including positive and affirming messages (especially for children), for encouraging kindness, and offering suggestions how to do so.
As I sat on the boat among friends, spirits lifted and alone in my thoughts, I marveled at God’s kindness and how a little bag of chips could preach good news to me. As an empty nester with my kids scattered over three states, family out of town, and friends hunkered down, I’ve had intense bouts of loneliness and even low-grade depression over the last few months. While a great thing happened this year – my first book released! – the world has turned upside-down, and the personal implications have been disheartening. I miss corporate worship, going out to eat, seeing the bottom half of people’s faces. I miss all the “normal” things I took for granted. I’ve grown weary.
I teeter-totter between “fine” and “un-fine” day to day, hour to hour, and sometimes moment to moment. As someone who can always find silver linings and bright sides, I do see God at work. But more than ever, I’ve sensed spiritual warfare and realized we aren’t made for this world. We’re made for something more, something better.
Right now our nation is polarized. Civil discourse can be elusive. But kindness will always make the world a better place. We can make make that happen right now.
For starters, love is kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). All of 1 Corinthians 13 offers us practical ways to express love and kindness. Ephesians 4:32 tells us kindness is tenderhearted and forgiving. Galatians 6:10 says “as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone.” We may not know the details of suffering for those around us, but beneath the surface we’re all battling something. The kindness of others may be exactly what we need.
Scripture speaks to kindness in the Old Testament to the New, and one of the most interesting verses to me is Proverbs 11:17 (ESV):
A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.
Being kind benefits others, but it also does ourselves good. As I extend kindness to the people around me, it offers me a return blessing. It might seem elementary, but it doesn’t diminish the truth: being kind is the easiest way to make our world a better place. Right here, right now.
We may not know the details of suffering for those around us, but beneath the surface we're all battling something. The kindness of others may be exactly what we need. -@robindance: Click To Tweet