Several years ago, I was in a car accident. The other driver and I suffered only minor injuries, but our vehicles were badly damaged. I had never been in a car accident before, and I was terrified and overwhelmed. A woman who was several cars ahead of the accident heard the crash and stopped to make sure everyone was okay. When she saw my distress, she told me that she had been in a similar accident before, so she understood my situation and how I was feeling.
The woman and I talked while we waited for the police and a tow truck to arrive. Although it made her late to her mother-in-law’s birthday party, the woman remained with me for over an hour to support and guide me through the necessary steps following the accident. She told me what to expect at each stage of the process, gave me advice, and told me about her own experiences. She was a calming and comforting presence.
Before she joined me, I had felt totally alone. Knowing that I had a kind and supportive companion helped me immensely. The fact that she shifted her plans to help a stranger makes her actions even more remarkable. And she was not the only stranger who helped me. It was a sweltering July day, and as we stood waiting in the sun, several people reached out to us. A homeless man who was sitting several yards down the road brought over bottles of water. Two people who were leaving a nearby store gave us granola bars. One driver called out to us from his car to see if everyone was okay and to let us know that he was praying for us. And several people stopped to make sure we were alright and ask if we needed anything.
As I recall the kindness of these strangers, I think of the many examples in scripture of people who cared for others and the ways their care enriched the lives of those around them. Tabitha (Dorcas) helped other widows and people in need in her community. She was so loved by her community that when she died they requested that Peter raise her from the dead, and her life and death brought many to the faith (see Acts 9:36-43). I think also of Rahab, who assisted the two Israelite spies and hid them from soldiers who sought to kill them. As a result of her actions, she and her family were spared when Jericho was raided (see Josh. 2 and 6:22-25). And I recall the wealthy woman who offered Elisha food, made a room for him in her home, and allowed him to stay there. Because of her care for him, Elisha promised that she would have a son and later revived her son following his death (see 2 Kings 4:8-37).
Having heard these stories my whole life, I have always known that I should strive to be kind and caring toward others, including strangers. But until the day of my car accident, I didn’t know how it felt to be on the other side — the one receiving care and kindness. The care shown to me after my accident has changed the way I interact with strangers in need. It often seems easier to turn a blind eye and continue on my way or simply to say, “I’m sorry, I’m not able to help.” But I am beyond grateful for the people who decided not to turn away from me when I needed help. And when I remember the difference their actions made for me, I feel a tug to stop and do what I can.
The woman who helped me probably doesn’t know what an impact she had on me. She may not even recall stopping that day. But this highlights the importance of always treating others with kindness and love. Our simplest actions can change a person’s situation or mindset. We never know how much someone may need us and the effect our action might have on her life. Even when it doesn’t seem easy or convenient to stop and offer help, it is worth it.
Questions for Reflection
1. When has a stranger shown you an unexpected and much-needed act of kindness? What did this teach you about kindness? How did it change the way you show kindness to others?
2. Of the examples from scripture above, which stands out to you the most? Why?
3. What are some of the risks of offering care and kindness to others? What are some of the rewards?
This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.