I don’t know about you, but 2016 has been rough for us. Exhausting, discouraging, full of hard work and lots of blessings too, but mostly we are looking towards 2017 and praying things feel a little less difficult. Or at least difficult in different, meaningful ways given that we have a newborn on the way…
I posted on my instagram account earlier this week that while many people have been talking about the hateful things on their news feeds, I have found hope in how much kindness I have seen. One of the first Facebook stories I saw the day after the election was how my friend Sarah had organized a book donation for everyone in her kindergarten daughters class, and that every child would be receiving several books (Including two of my favorites- A Chair For My Mother and Dragons love Tacos). That day I also saw offers of resources and support for those struggling, those sad and scared, those who feel unheard. It would be insane to deny that really destructive things are happening as well, but I’m clinging to the advice of Mr. Rogers and looking for the helpers.
I want to share one instance of kindness that really touched me today. I was at a craft fair/fundraiser for my MOPS group this morning. I had set up a variety of personalized cards and other goods and one of the things I made was a coffee cup with the phrase “progress not perfection” which is a phrase I knew from my admiration of the Cultivate What Matters Shop that I mentioned in an earlier post this month. A gentleman approached my table and was browsing my items when he saw that mug, picked it up, and asked me where I got the phrase. I told him it was one of my three anti-perfectionist mantras I’ve been saying over and over since becoming a parent. I told him where I’d come across it. He then told me it is a traditional/important saying for Alcoholics Anonymous. Incidentally, he happened to be on his way to an AA meeting when he came across our craft fair. He proudly told me he was 35 years sober and I was humbled by the day by day dedication I know that takes. I told him that now that saying means even more to me than it did before and he told me he’d like to buy the cup.
About half an hour later, I saw another mom walking towards me with the cup in hand. The same one this gentleman had purchased. I got a little nervous thinking maybe something was wrong and I hadn’t noticed- was there a chip? a crack? I was then told that as he was wandering the rest of the fair, he had also told this mom about being 35 years sober and she said that gave her hope for someone she knew who was in the early stages of their AA journey. This gentlemen passed on the mug for her to give to this other person as an encouragement. He will probably never even meet this other person, he just wanted to offer this symbol of encouragement and kindness. When I heard this, I got chills and almost started to cry. It made me want to find so many ways big and small to pass on kindness to others. It reminded me that with all the struggles of this year, there is a lot of light and a lot of good neighbors who aren’t necessarily showing up on the news feeds the way the loud acts of hate do. I don’t think we should be ignoring those, but I hope we can make kindness so common that we can remember both sides of our humanity. May we not choose silence and apathy when action and kindness are an option.