Love In The Little Ways
Whether you are working a minimum wage to make ends meet, between jobs while wishing your career would start, or haunted by mounds of student debt, lack of money often becomes a pesky thing. You cover shifts at work, budget, and save every penny, yet your coffee orders slowly go from a venti with extra whip to tall, herbal teas.
Everything in life costs money, from taking care of yourself to loving those around you. And that is where the money-less state tends to sting the most. It’s one thing to do without some of your favorite treats, but when your friend’s bridal shower comes around, you wish you could get her something lovely; or when you read about ministries helping children in third-world countries, you wish there was a way you could help.
However, true love and affection cannot be monetized. In the midst of daily living, you can still shine the light of God’s love into the people around you, despite the thinness of your wallet.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -Matthew 5:14-16 NIV
Here are nine little ways to show love to those around you:
Custom playlist: Is there anything more touching than a beautiful song? Give that gift to a friend using a music service, such as Spotify, to create a playlist that you know will make them smile. It is a gift that will bring joy to long commutes and exhausting homework sessions.
Note for a stranger: The people you haven't met need just as much love as those that you are already close to. Write a kind note sharing an encouraging verse, such as Psalm 46:1, and a prayer for their day; share about God’s love and remind them of hope in the midst of darkness. Leave this little note in a place where someone can find it: a park bench or tucked into a library book. Who knows how much of a difference your words could make?
Paper flower bouquet: Who doesn't love a bouquet of beautiful flowers? Make it yourself at a fraction of the cost of the real thing with paper coffee filters, skewers, and some tape. It makes a lovely hostess gift.
Bible study: We all need more time in God’s Word to refresh our souls. Host a little Bible study tea party with your friends to share that experience. It doesn't have to be elaborate; store bought cookies, Lipton, Scripture, and love are all you need to make this a success. For added fun, turn it into a picnic at a beautiful park. Not sure what to study? Here’s a fantastic study series on Ruth that you can use or get ideas from.
Pay it forward: This one is an oldie but a goodie; pay for the coffee of the person behind you. A simple gesture like this can not only brighten someone’s day, but also may inspire them to share the kindness by paying for the person behind them. One of the longest coffee kindness chains stretched for 400 people!
Visit a nursing home: At the end of your life when you sense that the story is almost over, the loneliness can become unbearable. Share hope with those struggling through this by visiting or volunteering at a nursing home. These people have lived through many experiences and have a lot to share. Take the time to listen because sometimes simply being present is the most powerful gift of love.
My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak. -James 1:19a NIV
Donate clothes: We all have items hanging in our closet that we haven't worn in forever. Put them to good use be giving them to those in need. Donate to a nationwide charity like Goodwill or to a local ministry that helps refugees or the poor. If the local ministry also needs volunteers as well as donations, you have an even better opportunity to shine His love!
Tiny treat: we all need little coffee breaks, so why not put one in a box? Include a pretty mug from the thrift store (you’d be amazed at how many adorable things are sold there), a tea bag or pack of instant coffee, some sugar cubes, a couple homemade cookies, and a verse (Lamentations 3:22-23 is a great option!). Wrap everything in striped baking twine for extra cuteness factor, and then, send it in the mail or deliver in person. Here’s a recipe for when you don't have the time or money to make a huge batch of cookies.
Parking meter: There are few things as frustrating as coming back to your car late from a meeting and finding you got a parking ticket. Start carrying around some quarters with you so that when your see a meter running low, you can give them a few extra minutes and save them from a ticket.