Each of us is faced with thousands of choices every day that define our thoughts, our behavior, and who we are to the world. This fall’s Thrive Conference explores the idea that the choices we make hold power and provide opportunities that influence ourselves, others, and how we see God. Each Tuesday from now until October, we’ll feature one story of someone whose life was changed by the conference or who was faced with a choice and held firmly to the belief that “I Choose.” Today’s story is courtesy of Nancy Holte, who is writing about how she intentionally chooses kindness.

A few weeks ago, I attended a funeral for the father of a good friend of mine. I’d met him only once, right before his wife’s funeral, and remember walking away thinking I’d love to get to know him better. He was just so gracious. As it turns out, this man was known for his kindness. At his funeral I heard someone say he’d left a legacy of kindness. Immediately I thought, “That is the kind of legacy I’d like to leave. A legacy of kindness.”

This summer has been a tough time in our country and our world. Truthfully, I can’t remember a time when it seemed like more people were filled with hate than with care and concern. I know it’s not true, of course. I still believe there are more nice people than mean ones, but unfortunately, when we watch the news that’s not what we see. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if, just for one day, we turned on the news and only heard stories of people doing nice things for one another? Just. One. Day.

I read a story the other day of a man named Bryan who was treated rudely by the woman in line in front of him at the gas station. Both of her credit cards had just been denied and, suffice it to say, she was having a bad day. But she caught a smile on his face and chose to respond with ugly words and behavior. She may have assumed he was smiling at her distress, which is still no excuse for her abhorrent actions.

Let me say, if someone yelled at me the things that woman yelled at Bryan, I’m not sure I would have responded very well. To be honest, I probably would have cried and hurried to my car. I’m almost 99.9% certain it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do something kind in return. But that’s what Bryan did.

After she walked out the door, he asked the clerk to put $20 on her gas pump and allow him to pay for it. Needless to say the clerk, who had heard the exchange, was flabbergasted at his response. Then, something even more remarkable happened. The man behind Bryan decided to pay for the rest of her gas so she could have a full tank. When they went out to tell the woman she could fill up her tank, she was astounded and embarrassed about her behavior. You see, she’d just gotten a new job and didn’t know how she’d fill her tank to get her to her first day of work.

Sometimes, kindness isn’t our first response, especially if we’ve been hurt. Maybe, though, we could try to change that. Maybe that’s why God tells us in Matthew 5 to “turn the other cheek.” He knew there would be days when people would be cruel and he wanted us to have a plan in place.

People aren’t always mean because they are bad people. Actually, I would venture to say most of the time they are unkind because they are hurting. The saying is true, “hurting people hurt people.”

So today, I choose kindness. When someone gets angry with me or annoys me (by say, tailgating me at 70 MPH), I will, with God’s help, respond with love. I will assume they are having a bad day and strive to be the one who helps turn their day around. Will you join me? Will you choose kindness, too? One little act CAN make a difference.

Let’s start a kindness revolution! We don’t have to wait until someone treats us poorly to do something nice. Do it now! In fact, I would venture to guess if we start choosing to perform an act of kindness every day, we will have an easier time of responding graciously when we are treated poorly.

I pray it will be said of me, “She left a legacy of kindness.”

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12

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