Last week I happened upon this quote:
"I don't think there is a more important person to be." That is a bold statement, but I think it is 100% right. This quote spoke to me because I have always wanted to be the kind of person that lifts others up and makes them feel important. It's not always an easy thing to do, and try as I might, I often fail.... Technically, I guess it IS easy, just not always comfortable.
I started to write this blog post and then I got busy trying to catch up the rest of my blog, so I didn't take the time to finish it. I left it open though, so I would be reminded to do it...but that's as far as it got. Then this morning, when I was checking my Facebook, I saw that my friend Dawn had posted basically the same quote!
The background on hers was more eye catching than the one on top, but as soon as I saw it I thought she must have got it from my weekly post called Monday Memos because of the timing of it all and then reformatted hers to be cuter. I went back and looked at the quotes I posted and it wasn't one of them. That meant she found it somewhere else and was moved enough by it to post it. Sometimes I need to get hit over the head to recognize Heavenly Father's prompts, but not this time. To me, it was a confirmation that maybe I needed to finish this post and not leave it in my "drafts" folder to get buried in the abyss.
For as long as I can remember, I've always had a special place in my heart for the underdog. After I received my Patriarchal Blessing, I knew why. It is part of my mission while here. And I truly believe it is part of every single person's mission. We are here to lift each other and bear one another's burdens. I have a deep longing to reach out to the less fortunate and those who need, though I am not always sure how to help. My heart is filled with love and charity for the lowly and one of my deepest desires is that everyone will be happy. Yeah, that's a tall order. But I still wish it.
I have also always been drawn to and have a deep love for little children. It breaks my heart when I see any of them with less than ideal circumstances. One of the reasons I went into Child Development was so I could be a light of hope for those little ones who didn't receive the kind of treatment they deserved at home. I worked in a preschool for over four years and it was heart breaking to witness what some of those children had to endure. Little children shouldn't have to be in want of love. When I volunteered in my son's classrooms over the years, I tried very hard to give encouragement to those who appeared sad (or even angry since anger is frequently a secondary emotion of sadness) and were obviously in need of a caring human. Sadly, there was always at least one in every class. So many children come from such rough and abusive homes and it's heart wrenching to see. But even one kind word can make a world of difference in their lives.
Rewind back to 4th grade. We had just moved and I didn't know many of my classmates. I will never forget one of the girls in my class. She was thin and frail and dressed in worn and tattered clothes. Her hair was short, unevenly cut and rarely combed. She had no friends and didn't always smell too pleasant, so as you can imagine, the other kids made fun of her. My heart ached for her. I couldn't bare to see her so lonely and hurt by the cruel words of others and so I befriended her. I was her only friend. I wish I had kept a journal back then, because I don't remember what happened to her, and my only memory of her is of 4th grade. I don't remember her in high school or any other time.
Then one day I saw her name on Facebook. I looked at her profile to see if it could possibly be the same person and it was. I friend-ed her and could tell right away that her life had been tough. But she seemed happy (not that Facebook can really prove that) and I was just grateful she was still doing okay (as far as I could tell from Facebook).
I share that story not to boast that I reached out to her, but because I have often wondered what would have become of her if no one had been nice to her? Would she have become a lost cipher and end up dead or worse? I will never know. I will never know if my small act of kindness even had an impact on her. I truly hope it did. I hope in someway it helped her to feel like she was worthy of love from others.
Even if my small token of kindness did not change her life in any way, it changed mine. It made me more compassionate and a more loving person. I could not have lived with myself if I had not reached out to her. I know that if Jesus had been in our classroom, that little unkempt girl would have been the first person He would have spoken to. And I genuinely want to be more like Him.
But it goes deeper than that.
It's much easier to be kind to those who tug at our heart strings and make us feel compelled to reach out and help them, than it is to go out of our way and say something nice to those who might have offended us or seem to have their ducks all in a row and are the picture of happiness. But those people also need kindness shown to them. I think we often overlook the people who seem to have it all together and don't go out of our way to show extra kindness to them because they don't appear to "need" it. But truly, don't we all need it?
We live in a world that loves to judge, criticize, and condemn. I don't believe there is one single person on our planet, no matter how wealthy, how many friends they have, how wonderful their family is, or how many parties they get invited to, that doesn't need to hear someone say something nice to them. ONE NICE THING. It can be the thing that changes their day, their outlook, or their entire life. There is power in the words we say to others. And there is even more power when that one nice thing comes amidst many unkind things they may be hearing from others. Kind words will be remembered.
It's easy to say unkind things to others or to say nothing at all. But it's an art to be the person who finds that one nice thing to say when no one else does.
I hope those reading this will try to master that art. It's a lofty goal for sure, but I hope we can at least improve on it and be the ones with something nice to say when we see someone that looks insecure, unsure of themselves, uncomfortable, or left out. It's not hard to find those people. We are surrounded by them. Adults and children alike. Sometimes they can be spotted easily. They may look outwardly sad or angry. But other times you have to really look. Often they wear a pasted smile on their face and force a brave appearance.
One thing I know for sure, EVERYONE can use a kind word! Those words are never wasted.
I am grateful for the people in my life who take the time to say nice things to me. The ones who make me feel special and important and are genuinely excited to see me. I know how good it makes me feel when I am treated with kindness by others and I know that we can all become those people who scatter kindness. Kindness is contagious. Let's start spreading it around like there is no limit to it, because there isn't!
That I know for sure.