“Live for something.  Do good, and leave behind you a monument of virtue that the storms of time can never destroy.  Write your name in kindness, love, and mercy on the hearts of thousands you come in contact with year by year, and you will never be forgotten.  Your name and your good deeds will shine as stars in heaven.” – Thomas Chalmers

I was gratified by the positive response to my last blog (A Special Gift – Blog 309).  It seems the story of my friend Bob Perk’s relentless kindness and patience toward a difficult neighbor touched your hearts. Most importantly, many readers told me it made them more resolved to be kind to others they come in contact with daily, too. One said, “I want to be Bob!”

I hadn’t anticipated writing a post-script to that blog, but Bob sent me two.  I’d like to share them both with you, to provide a complete picture of what it takes to be truly committed to being kind.

You will recall that one of the residents of Bob’s new senior living community seemed determined to be cynical and sour toward his attempts to make life happy and cheerful for the other residents.  A typical example of his kindness and thoughtfulness was Bob’s decision to put on a picnic of hot dogs, sodas and sides for any residents who had nowhere to go to celebrate the Fourth of July. Bob generously paid for everything out of his own small income.

Most of his neighbors adore Bob for such acts, but this one woman seemed impervious to his good will, constantly belittling his efforts with cynical and sarcastic remarks. Although he was initially taken aback, Bob wisely made a conscious choice not to take it personally.  Each time they met, he continued to greet her pleasantly (even when she wouldn’t make eye contact or even return his “Hello”) and prayed for her daily.

One day he found himself in the elevator with her and he decided to speak up. He told me he asked her “why she found pleasure in mocking my efforts, yet showed up for the hot dog meal on the Fourth…Before she responded, I said, ‘Because I want you to be my friend.’” 

She was startled by his bold declaration, but Bob observed, “I believe my directness stunned her and my sincerity confused her stone cold spirit.  Even though I broke the wall she has built, she will most likely rebuild it in order to protect her narrow-minded assumptions and not appear at fault.  Still, I have removed a part of the wall with the only tool I know best.  Love.  Love is the answer.”

I made an observation in the blog that if you follow Bob’s shining example and spread kindness to others, most people will show deep gratitude.  But some may appear to resist.  We don’t know what their personal background is or what they have been through in life that has made them think and behave the way they do.

A few days later, Bob sent me this surprising update:

“I happened to look outside and saw C. sitting there by herself.  I opened the door and said hello.  She called me over and we had this incredible conversation.  Very open and friendly.

She then revealed that yesterday she found out that she has cancer…again.  Breast.  One removed years ago.  I carefully, gently placed my hand on her shoulder and told her that ‘I will see you in my prayers.’ 

I asked that if she felt comfortable doing so, I’d like updates.  She said, ‘You’re the only one who offered.’ …..Before I left, she thanked me again and told me I was very kind and caring. 

I see it this way: I just continued to include her rather than reject her.  God knew of her cancer and knows how alienating she was.  [God] asked me to break through so others will be there for her too.”

I wish that was the storybook ending we would all love — That Bob’s relentless kindness and love permanently tore down the walls she had put up between herself and others.  Unfortunately, reality is often a bit less than perfect.

After that wonderful heart-to-heart encounter with his troubled neighbor, Bob went about putting the finishing touches on a fabulous party he was preparing. It was to be held on his birthday, but Bob was not the guest of honor. He was the host and any of the 200 residents in his community were welcome to attend as honored guests.

He spent weeks preparing a lavish menu (including 80 pounds of pulled pork), and lots of yummy sides and deserts, a variety of games for them to play, raffle prizes, and music.  Bob’s music is his passion and a special gift he likes to share with others. He is a professional DJ and singer, so he put on a 45 minute show for them as well.  Arching over the party, he stretched a tent that made the guests feel like they were at the circus.

What an amazing time everyone had!

All except one.

When I emailed Bob and asked how his new friend C. had liked the party, he replied, “ Sadly, she did not attend.  In fact, she told one of my friends that day that ‘He is a liar.  He did not decorate by himself!’ 

Bob continued, “I have now come to believe and accept that the few recent kind words are a rarity….I believe this is a mental challenge she is facing….Still, I don’t feel that my efforts were lost.  A gift from God?  Indeed.  He permitted me to break through and bring out the person she should/could be.  I will continue to pray and treat her with the respect she deserves.” 

I acknowledged Bob for the incredible effort and personal expense he kindly undertook to give his neighbors a fabulous evening. I am sure they will remember it forever.  And I was especially proud of him for his attitude toward C’s retreat back into her bitter little emotional shell.  Instead of getting angry at her, he recognized it as an opportunity for him to grow as a person and to be God’s instrument to show her what’s possible for her life, if she chooses.

So what’s the payoff for being kind and loving to everyone you come in contact with — including the few difficult ones who seem to rebuff your good intentions and even try to punish you for being kind?

I believe the payoff is that, as the Law of Attraction states, “energy attracts like energy.”  Therefore, if you keep on being positive, generous, kind and caring, you will inevitably attract more and more people and circumstances that reflect YOUR positive energy.  Being positive won’t insulate you from all negative people and situations, but it will help you grow into someone who is 100% sure of her own values and consciously embodies them everywhere, with everyone.  If our values and convictions are never tested, how can we know what we are truly committed to?

I am convinced that there are still more chapters to be written in Bob and C’s fascinating friendship saga.  She may act as though she doesn’t believe it, but deep down, she cannot deny that at least one person on this earth truly CARES about her, no matter what.

And that is why when you “write your name in kindness, love and mercy” it will forever bless you, the giver, along with the thousands of hearts who are the recipients.

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