Her name was Tabitha, although some referred to her as Dorcas. The passage in Acts 9:31-41 that tells us about her gives very little information but the few words contain a powerful insight.
She was known for her kindness and generosity.
She sewed dresses for the widows of the town.
She was greatly missed when she died.
These nuggets that summed up Tabitha's life are small and great at the same time. She had no impressive title. She held no place of authority in the community. I don't see a woman of power and influence. Well, at least as the world around would define power and influence.
But I see something in the response of those who had been touched by Tabitha's kindness and generosity--the widows of the town.
They wept at her passing.
They felt a deep sense of loss.
They wondered what they would do without her.
And all of this was generated by a woman who was just being kind and generous, just doing what she could do to make the lives of those around her a little easier, a little better. She sewed dresses.
A commercial that has been running on TV for a while shows a series of kind acts, each one done in response to observing someone else doing a kind act. A pay-it-forward sequence with a twist. Each person is inspired to be kind and generous just because they saw kindness and generosity in another's life, not because they experienced it themselves.
I heard the story of a young woman who lost her cell phone on a recent road trip and then was shocked to find out from her parents that the stranger who had found it called her home and was sending it to them. A totally unexpected outcome for the gal and she was impacted by it.
My conclusion is that I underestimate the power we have to influence the world around us just by being kind and generous. And I have been amazed at the opportunities to be kind and generous that present themselves every day if I look for them. Kindness and generosity do not require any special talents or abilities, do not require advanced degrees, do not require much time and effort even. I am discovering that God just asks me to be available and willing.
I am grateful for the "Tabithas" in my life. Those who chose to be available, to extend a bit of kindness, to give a bit more than is necessary. I am thankful for the person who returned my purse to Customer Service after I left it in the shopping cart. I am thankful for the person who left his name and phone number on my car windshield after his car door hit mine. I am thankful for the friend who dropped off a vase of fresh flowers after I participated in a half marathon. And I'm thankful for those who have offered an encouraging word to think on the truth about me, my life, my circumstances.
The power of kindness and generosity isn't one of those "I've never thought of that before" ideas but what a great reminder for me to keep my eyes open and my ears attentive to put them into action in my life.