Yet, even in the world we see that a little kindness goes a long way and has great power to bring the light of God's gifts into very dark places with remarkable power. I remember reading of a study many years ago where children who had come out of extremely challenged childhoods had been interviewed as young adults. Scientists were trying to understand why some thrived in such rocky soil compared to those who withered emotionally and ethically.
The common thread was not government programs or harshness of winters or stellar textbooks. The one consistent thread for each of these survivors who became thrivers was some one person who truly believed in that child. Often a single someone who expressed hope for their future, who shared with the child the passionate belief that the child was worthy and able and had important work they were called to do. It was often a grandparent, an older sibling, a teacher, an adult friend of the parent through church or neighborhood. It could even be an incarcerated parent who wrote faithful and shared faith and belief that the child could have a better life.
Even when that person did not live until the child achieved adulthood, the lessons were remembered, nurtured, revisited, added to through experience so that even during great challenges with little visible outside support, these children were focused, not on being the best student or best athlete or most popular, but rather they were focused on fulfilling their potential as good people.
We often hear of athletes who grew up in desperate poverty and continue to exhibit behaviors steeped in fear, greed and hopelessness. But less often we get a glimpse of stories the world seems to find more unusual than glorious, stories of professional athletes who routinely contribute to charitable foundations, support worthy causes with far more than a check and have productive lives after pro sports. These are people who have learned that learning to be kind beats trophies and the accolades of the world. We don't hear so much about them because the best of them are not doing it for recognition, but rather to pay forward kindness shown to them.
We do not have to have grown up in wretchedness or achieved world fame to embrace this life-style. We do not need big bucks in a charitable foundation or a PhD or an MVP trophy. What we need is a willingness to open our hearts, our heads, our lives to help as best we can our fellow travelers who are physically needy, or lonely, or needing a friend. If we are willing, God will open the doors to the wisdom, strength and resources we need to make kindness a major fuel in our lives.