Expressions of kindness are like a glimpse of heaven


By Jenna Ebener
A Reflection

When I was in Belize in June, one thing that really stood out to me was the sincerity of the residents of an island where we stayed. I do not remember ever being in a place where almost every interaction was based on fostering connection. These interactions were authentically sincere and did not seem led by the need for material gain. Even though many interactions were with waitresses and street vendors, I never felt like they were interacting with me only to get my business. Two examples in particular stick in my mind.

On our first night on the island, someone in our group celebrated her 30th birthday. As soon as our waitress realized it was someone’s birthday, she moved us to another table where they had set up balloons and party hats. A birthday playlist played the rest of the night while the staff brought out a birthday cupcake, sparklers and drinks for everyone. I have never been somewhere where strangers were so thoughtful and happy to lift up another person. You could feel the love radiating off of them.

The second example took place on our free day of exploring the island. There was a ladder with a platform that allowed you to jump into the ocean. I took my turn and plunged into the water. As I swam to the edge, I realized my bug repellant bracelet had fallen off. I was not worried about it but before I even had time to think about it, three young boys were trying to get my attention. They noticed my bracelet floating in the water and were concerned that it was an Apple Watch, so they jumped in and brought me my bracelet. I was struck by their genuine concern and selflessness.


These are just two examples of many that reminded me of the innate goodness of humans. I experienced the kindness of those who expected nothing in return. It took those experiences for me to realize how jaded I have become at times. Oftentimes, after someone had been kind to me, a brief thought would come to mind: “I wonder what they want from me?” The answer, thankfully, was connection, not material gain, and helped me view others with a fresh lens of love rather than judgement or expectation.

How often are we stuck in negative thinking about other people’s motives? Do we interact with others as if we are interacting directly with God? That is how I felt on that island. Those residents treated me, a stranger, with a respect and sincerity that refreshed my soul. If each of us could make even one person feel like that every day, imagine what a kinder world we would live in! To experience that level of kindness gives us just a sample of what heaven will be like. If humans can love so deeply, imagine how much more deeply our Creator loves us.  “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

(Jenna Ebener, a graduate of St. Ambrose University in Davenport, is a social worker at a school in Colorado for students with a combination of medical, cognitive and behavior disabilities. She relies on God every day to aid her on this wonderful, yet intense journey.)

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