A few weeks ago, I read a Facebook post from a girl who attended the same high school as me. Although that was about 40 years ago, and seemingly 100 years of life experiences ago, I could still feel the honest and genuine kindness in her post: same girl, just older. We were never close friends, but were friendly to one another. The majority of my high school relationships were like that. I made a concerted effort to keep people at arms length, for fear they would see a crack in my well rehearsed facade.
As I read her post, which detailed an intimate conversation she shared with a homeless woman, I felt love for this girl I knew but did not know well. I mean, think about this; how many people do you know who have taken the time to try to engage a homeless person in a real conversation? I know of none other. The pure beauty of this act—the complete acceptance with no judgment —played in my mind for days. It made me want to be a better person too.
It seems we all have hidden fears that rear their ugly heads when faced with an opportunity like that. Would you seize that moment? Or would you be more concerned about your own well being, or about the protection of your wallet? I don’t say this in judgment, because I cannot tell you how I would have handled the situation. I would like to believe that I would embrace the less fortunate. I am always eager to give to them financially—but emotionally? I’m not sure. Imagine the significance of just being heard when you have become part of the faceless, unheard, population.
Now consider the exact opposite. What if you saw a woman at a party who looked fairly well put together, standing alone. Would you make an effort to seek her out and provide her company? Or would you assume she had chosen to be alone and did not want yours nor anyone else’s company? Perhaps this woman secretly sought validation just as desperately as the homeless woman. What fears or insecurities might you have that would prevent you from approaching her?
We hold in our hands the power of transformation pretty much all of the time. I cannot explain why we don’t use it more often. Every human needs some type of validation to thrive. What if those few words that you bit back because of fear or trepidation were exactly the words someone needed…really needed…and they were left unsaid on your tongue before you swallowed them down.
I have written a few blogs previously about the power of words and how they can be used like weapons. But this sweet classmate of mine reminded me, through her simple act of humanity, that a few kind words can rejuvenate a soul. And since reading her post, I have paid closer attention to opportunities to spread that kind of love. I have also been the lucky recipient of such kindness, surely many times more than I deserve.
So, alter that Nike slogan just a bit…and just say it! If you are standing in the grocery store behind a young woman using WIC stamps trying to provide food for her children, and you can hear the disgruntled murmurings of others in line, speak up and say one good thing to her. Trust me, she needs it. It will ease her feelings of embarrassment and of being judged. Be that one person’s hero.
Imagine how wonderful our world could become if each one of us exercised the transformational power of a few kind words. Step outside of your own comfort zone in order to comfort someone else. Make a difference. You know you want to.