I wrote “Liz” at the top of the paper, and my Communications professor told us to pass our papers to the person on our left. She instructed us to write our first impression of the person whose name appeared at the top of the page, then fold the paper over to conceal our comment, and pass it on. The pages moved around the circle. My sheet with “Liz” at the top was returned to me. I unfolded it and read.
Several of my classmates had written “caring,” to describe their first impressions of me. Maybe their description was only a generic compliment to describe a classmate they didn’t know well, but I decided to appreciate their comments, and for a while I tried to be the kind and caring person I thought people believed me to be.
But over the years I grew less and less sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. I became busy with my work and career. I focused on my progress toward status and success. I listened to the “take care of yourself first” propaganda our society broadcasts, and I forgot to be the caring, compassionate person I once believed I was. And as I grew older, the world began to seem like a harsh, cold, and uncaring place.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” ~~ Mahatma Ghandi
This year I want to be the compassionate person God created me to be. I want to be the caring person my classmates recognized in that long-ago college classroom.
“As God’s chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
In 2017, I’m planning a few actions steps to return me to the caring person I used to be.
Reach out to some old friends I haven’t seen in a while. Plan to meet someone to reconnect over lunch or coffee each month.
Serve without calculating how many hours I spend. Volunteer without asking, “What’s in this for me?”
Be present and pay attention to the people in my life every day. Ask them how their day was and really listen to their answers.
Say “Thank you,” I understand,” and “I’m grateful” to someone every day.
Perform regular random acts of kindness. Look for opportunities to give someone a surprise gift or compliment every month.
If I want the world to be a more warm, welcoming and compassionate place, I need to be a more interested, open and caring person. In 2017, I’m writing “caring” at the top of my list and passing it on.
How do you show your care and concern for others? What helps you show compassion and kindness to the world?
I said good-bye at the door of my daughter's kindergarten classroom and headed for the parking lot; but when I looked back, my daughter came running after me, shrieking down the hallway. Her dad and I had just divorced, and my daughter and I were both going through a period of separation anxiety.
The school counselor suggested I allow my daughter to bring something from home, something small and unobtrusive she could wear or keep in a pocket, something to remind her of the loving adults who would still be there for her at the end of the day.
In my dresser drawer, I found an old, gold-tone locket necklace, and I put tiny pictures of her dad and me inside. My daughter wore that locket every day of kindergarten, and she stopped chasing me, crying, through the hallways when I dropped her off at school.
Some kids carry teddy bears or old blankets to remind them of home and help them feel secure. Most kids outgrow carrying their security objects around all day.
But many adults still have security objects that we keep near to see and touch. Sometimes we all need a physical connection to our invisible sources of strength and love.
When I was feeling particularly anxious and insecure, I found my old Cowardly Lion doll and stood him on my dresser to remind me to have courage and keep moving. I hoard quilts that hold memories of special people. I will never part with the Taz doll my husband won for me at the amusement park game stall. And lately, I've started carrying this smooth river stone to remind me of the strength and solidity of God's presence.
I know all these lockets, dolls, and stones don't hold any special powers. They are not lucky charms, and they possess no magic spells. Our touchstones are merely tangible reminders of the love and safety available to us and the special people who give us comfort and peace.
On first grade picture day, I pulled from the dresser drawer that old, golden locket, now tarnished and tangled. I asked, "Do you want to wear this today?"
My daughter shrugged.
Lockets and stones can never take the place of the love they represent, and once we become secure in that love, the reminders become merely reminders again.
My daughter moved on to wearing necklaces she and her friends made out of safety pins. But I still have that Cowardly Lion doll.
What security objects do your children treasure? What are your own tangible reminders of love?