I've been discovering that acts of kindness are valuable mostly for how they can transform us.
Often, doing "good deeds" left me feeling self-conscious and goody-goody, proud, and then loathing myself as I notice how awkward my thoughts got.
Recently Adam & I have been in his parents' pool quite a bit. Little bugs and bees fly in and get stuck in the water. Rescuing the ones that are still alive has revived a very tender part of me. Allowing an insect to sit on my finger while its wings dry teaches me patience. I study it, and see how beautiful it is. To my surprise, I realize that even loving insects is something I carry within.
The potential to be appreciate this little bee is within me, but it is the act of rescuing her that awakens that potential.
In the same way, killing insects strengthens my feelings of loathing towards them. (And I don't necessarily feel ready to be kind to mosquitoes and ticks.)
But the thought that remains with me is that acts of gentleness, generosity, and love are powerful for the transformation within me that they can create. The focus is no longer on what I am doing for others, but how doing these things changes me for the better.
What I do becomes who I am.