Let’s be honest here. Truly, how many of us, wake up, eat breakfast, workout, go about our day, come home, make dinner, get ready for bed and wake up the next day to repeat the process. No judgement here. I’m raising my hand!
The reality is, if we are not careful, life’s mediocrity has a way of steeling our ability to notice the things that have nothing to do with that next work deadline, but that have everything to do with who we’re walking life’s journey with. Our family. Our friends. The people we pass by at the gym, on our morning walks or at the grocery store.
So, the question is, how do we get out of this cycle? What can we do today to turn our arrows outward in kindness?
As a 9 year old girl, one morning I grabbed my backpack, opened the front door and walked across the fresh grass to start my walk to the bus. When I reached the sidewalk, I heard the sound of a faint, familiar voice behind me.
What seemed like perfect slow motion, my head turned to the right, as the slight end-of-summer breeze softly kissed my skin. There, facing me across the lawn, stood my dad in the doorway, intently looking.
“Remember Mandy. Don’t forget to lift,” he said.
This small, yet impactful moment in my life, will forever remain as one of the most important and cherished lessons I have and will ever learn. Within these words, “don’t forget to lift,” hold’s the answers to the questions above. Everytime I hear my dad’s words in my mind, I’m reminded to shift my attention away from myself and direct it to those people at the grocery store or at the gym.
Years after this experience, one spring morning I pulled myself out from underneath my sheets and prepared for the day. I grabbed flats and began walking to one of my University classes. My pace seemed frantic and unaware of my surroundings, until I noticed a student on my left.
His beautiful, black skin shined against the sun. I slowed down, looked at him and immediately blurted something out.
“I like your shirt.”
The sides of his cheeks lifted, and his perfectly white teeth against his skin began to glimmer.
As we walked to class together, I asked his name.
“Promise,” he said.
With a curious laugh, I asked, “Where did your name come from?”
I listened with my eyes soley and intently focused on him, as I twisted my body to face his.
I learned that before he was born, his parents lived in Nigeria and earnestly yearned for a son. Instead, they were blessed with a family of girls. But after many years, he came into the world and was given the name Promise; a fitting name for a child who’s father always believed God would gift them the promise of a son.
Still focused on Promise, I gazed up at his eyes until we parted ways. I haven’t seen Promise since, but when I watched him leave that day, the importance of focusing on others became clear. From our simple two-minute conversation, I recognized that Promise was and is important. He a human being full of stories, experience and sacredness.
After this experience, I opened the door of the BYU-I Student Center and walked past people of all colors and races. Some had tears falling down their cheeks. Others laughed, filling the entire hallway with echoes. Others smiled as they held hands with their significant others.
I asked myself, “What stories do they have? What experiences and hardships are they facing? And what is my part in their lives? Then, the words came. “Remember, Mandy. Don’t forget to lift.”
In honor of kindness week, I share these stories to remind us all to to focus on the people around us. How can we help people in their struggles? Maybe it’s just a listening ear. Maybe it’s just a smile as you walk by someone on the sidewalk. Maybe it's sending some extra love to your family and friends. Or maybe it’s asking for cash back at the grocery store and handing the money to the grocer when you leave.
Get creative, and whatever it is, throw out kindness like pixie dust, filling the world with your light!