We’ve all heard of it before. The efforts of individuals such as Mother Theresa and Ghandi that have started out small, have expanded outside their realms of immediate intentions. Yet, the phenomenon never ceases to amaze us. I believe that the simplest acts of compassion can make the biggest difference in another’s life.
I wanted to commit suicide. When my world was desperately crumbling, slipping out of control, all it took was a small gesture of compassion to save me. The tears streaming down my best friend’s face startled me. The pure sincerity and fiery compassion of her soul stunned me, and rather than words, my own tears began to fall in response. Letting me know she cared made the biggest difference in my life, especially at a time when I needed it most. Not only have I felt the power of compassion affect my life, but I’ve seen this power affect the lives of others.
“May God bless you,” I would say with as smile, as I handed each person his or her warm grits, scrambled eggs, and sausages. My father began to take me along with him every Saturday morning to give breakfast to homeless people when I was thirteen. We would save up our money each week to feed as many people as we could. Their grateful, teeth-missing smiles meant a lot to us. We didn’t do this for profit. We did it, because we knew that even our small efforts could somehow touch and possibly change another’s life out there in the real world.
My father raced into my room one afternoon, waving a letter with news we’d never forget. One of the men we used to see on those Saturday’s had now found a job working in one of the restaurants on Bourbon Street and had even found a small apartment in the ninth ward. The letter explained how our little mission inspired him to make a difference too, and every now and then, our tears of gratitude still fall for him.
Armies of volunteers are building wells in Africa and housing hundreds of orphans. With every action, their acts of compassion are changing the world. However, this doesn’t mean you have to go out and do something miraculous; even the most ordinary acts of compassion are appreciated. Remember, it’s always the smallest things that start it all. Even a simple smile or wave will do. Who knows? Maybe a smile could brighten up the worst day of a person’s life. Maybe your acts of compassion will inspire others to make a difference. Maybe, just maybe, you could change the world.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.