Small Acts of Love

When it comes to living lives of virtue, we often find ourselves being able to “talk the talk”, but we seem to have a hard time “walking the walk”. I am just as guilty as anyone in this regard. We wholeheartedly commit ourselves to loving and serving fellow man, and then either deliberately or by an act of ignorance, let personal opportunities for loving others pass right beneath our very noses. It’s almost like we sleep walk past these opportunities. Wake up! Come alive by doing small acts of love for others. The opportunities are right there in front of us, dozens of times each day.

We need to open our eyes and become attentive to the needs and sufferings of people who present themselves in our daily lives. If we really and truly love others as ourselves, should we sit around and wait for them to ask us to do something for them? Or, by being aware of others needs, and seeing something that needs doing, shouldn’t we just do it?

There is an old story that illustrates this very well. There was a family who suffered the tragic loss of a child. It was customary for this family to leave their shoes outside their back door. A man who knew this family heard of their loss. When he came to their house to offer his condolences and saw the shoes outside the door, it occurred to him that they might want to wear the shoes to the funeral. The shoes were worn and dirty, so he took them home, cleaned and shined them and returned them before they’d been missed.

The opportunity to do a small act of love presented itself to him and he took action.

“I knew if I had asked if there was anything I could do, they would have said ‘no.’ Their shoes needed cleaning so I did it,” he said matter of factly. To him it was no big deal, but to the family his “small act of love” touched their hearts and eased their pain. Pain is a lot easier to handle when you know people love you.

Stop and think back over your day: Was there something you saw that needed doing but you passed it by because you would have been socially embarrassed to act? Was there a person who needed your attention that would have loved a five minute talk, but you were too busy with mundane tasks that could have waited? Did you miss an opportunity to help an elderly person? How many people did you walk by who looked dejected and needed an encouraging word? Was there something that you could have done for your parents that would have made them smile? Could you have taken 5 minutes of your time to help another student struggling with a math problem?

Every day we are given opportunities to change the world with “small acts of love.” However, if we aren’t careful, we may fail to see those opportunities because we’re too busy, too stressed, and too caught up in what’s happening in our own lives. Open your eyes to the needs of others, have the courage to do what needs to be done, and don’t fool yourself by thinking that the “small acts of love” you do are too insignificant to make a difference.

Remember the story of the little boy who was seen throwing starfish that had washed up on the beach back into the ocean? “Why do you bother?” a man asked him. “There are hundreds of them. You couldn’t possibly save them all.” “No,” the little boy answered, “but I can save this one, and it makes a difference to him,” he said as he threw the starfish back into the sea.

What you do (or don’t do) each day does make a difference in the lives of others.