Sometimes, I am still surprised. I know that people say that the world is cruel place, that we have to be careful, that we should not go off trusting people willy-nilly. And so sometimes, I am surprised to find that much of this distrust is unnecessary and much of it is false.
Noah started high school this year and made the soccer team as well. Our days and nights are full and carefully planned. There are games and practices and activities and things that draw his attention and ours. And while all of this is shiny and new, the lives of our other three children are brimming over with things that are new to them. One is learning to read on a brand new level. Another is finding the balance needed when homework increases and friends abound. Another is juggling middle school demands with academic expectations and all of it is important to them... and to us.
As we planned for fall, it became evident that we could not be at everything for everyone. A tricky thing for us since we have tried, thus far, to be present at those things our kids take on. So, we jumped into a car-pool and Noah found himself driving to and from games with 4 of his buddies and one of their folks. In this group, we take our turn. Now, truth be told, I was thrilled that we could find a group that was willing to share this load with us. The decision, at the outset, was practical and good. So, imagine my surprise when it became far more than that.
Imagine my surprise when a mom comments on my son's character in a way that brings grateful tears to my momma-eyes. Imagine my surprise when it is my day to drive carpool and another mom offers to take my little ones so they do not have to spend so much time in the van. Imagine my surprise when being present at a game will keep me from picking up another child from school and yet another mom steps up and offers her home for him to hang out in until one of us can pick him up. Imagine...
The list can go on and on and I find myself humbled and grateful to be so regularly surprised.
Sometimes, I think we allow ourselves to feel all alone in the world. Sometimes, we lock our doors and peer out the windows assuming that what is found on the other side is dark and scary and bad. We assume that those who draw close are planning to take from us in some way and we allow this fear to push us away from reaching out. And maybe, we have been hurt. Maybe, you have found that there are those who do not seek to help, who do not speak words of encouragement, who are hard or selfish or mean...
But, here is what I am learning this year... I am learning that what I expect has a lot to do with what I see. And I am learning that there are good people around me who help because they choose to help. And I am learning that being near them makes me expect more from myself... makes me want to offer more to others... makes me navel-gaze a little less and look around to see what I can offer to those who are sitting beside me. Because the truth is, there is a lot of good out there... but we have a part to play as well.
Last week, I found myself across the table from a dear, old friend. She listened as I told about my work as a speaker and a writer. After a few minutes, she leaned back and said, "I can totally see you doing this. You have always been able to talk to a crowd and communicate well." She went on to reflect on things she has seen in me over many years of friendship. Her kind words washed over me and, all over again, I was lost in the wonder of kindness. I was reminded how it matters what we do. I was reminded that it matters what we say. And I was reminded, deeply, that the work we do as mommas can leave us hungry for such affirmation.
So today, let's look around a bit. Let's look at those around us in a brand new way and let God nudge us in the way we should go. Let's be open to lending a hand, offering a compliment, and being a wave of needed grace in the life of someone nearby. Because the world is what we make of it... and finding a way to connect to others and allow them to do the same makes it an awfully sweet place to be. We have the chance, today, to be the hands and voice of God to the people He dearly loves.
It's strange to me to think that those who have taught me these lessons just might read this blog. I think they will wonder why their kindness strikes me... it seems to be so much a part of how they are wired. So, if that is you, just know this... Kindness matters and for all your gentle words and times of conversation, for all your offers of help and time spent driving, for all you are teaching me and for all you offer my boy, thank you. Thank you. It is in the ordinary living of life in community that I am reminded of the richness of grace.