While I was shopping with my son, a lady came up to us. At first I looked at her face to see if I recognised her. I didn’t. My mind was grappling with the usual questions . Does she go to church with us? Does her son go to school with mine? Does she know members of my family? I desperately struggled to make the connections.
As she stood in front of us, she said to me: “Let this $10 go towards his snacks.” I was taken aback. Thoughts assaulted my mind again. At first I was offended because I thought that she didn’t think that I could afford my son’s snacks. But on further thought I began to wonder why. My son profusely thanked her. Then snapping my mind out of my reverie, I thanked her as well. She smiled at me and resumed her shopping. She never told me her name but I will never forget her action.
Why did she do this act of kindness? Could it be that my son reminded her of someone near and dear to her heart? Was she impressed by his speech and his character? Not only does my son speak fluent English but he reasons well out loud. He is also small for his age and persons are amazed when he tells them he is eight years old. I call him my sapphire because he is the epitome of innocence in his words and actions. He is helpful, kind and thoughtful. His laughter is infectious and he loves people.
In these harsh economic times, prices are increasing. We accept this. In these harsh economic times, similarly to the prices, acts of kindness should increase. We should be kind to each other. People will be kind to us as well. Money is not a requirement for kindness. Love does not cost anything but it is a powerful currency when shared with others. This lady’s act of kindness inspires me to do random acts of kindness and speak words of kindness whenever I can. If she reads this, I hope she remembers that incident in the supermarket aisle by the cleaning products. My son and I thank her again for her act of kindness and the inspiration which echoes in our hearts.
Michaela was so excited. Her father was taking her to the bookstore to buy another Babysitter’s Club book. As an 8 year old she loved that series because it was centred on a group of girls who loved to take care of children, experienced adventures and treasured long lasting friendships. Michaela was wearing her favorite dress. It was blue with a red flower in the centre. Michaela usually wore it as soon as it was washed and pressed. Hand in hand with her father they crossed Main Street and entered the department store.
The town was filled with people this Saturday morning. Everyone was in a hurry. Many people were waiting for someone outside of the department store, as this was a popular meeting point. The air conditioner blasted in Michaela’s face in contrast to the sweltering Caribbean heat. The perfume and cologne scent assaulted their noses as they hurried inside, away from the hustle and bustle of Main Street.
Michaela excitedly pulled her father to the area of the elevator. Riding the elevator was more exciting than the escalator. She anticipated the feeling in the pit of her stomach when the elevator moved up or down. The area was crowded. The elevator doors opened and five people rushed out while people rushed in. Then it happened. Michaela’s hand broke from her father’s. She looked back to see him as the elevator doors closed behind. She was trapped in an elevator with unfamiliar faces. Where was her father? Why was he not with her? Which floor was the bookstore?
Michaela rode the elevator to the 2nd floor. The doors opened. Some people came out but her father was not there. She tried not to panic. Her heart was racing, but on the outside she appeared calm. Her father always told her the worst thing to do in these situations was to panic.
Instead Michaela helped people get to their floor by pressing the button to the desired floor. Suddenly she heard a voice announce: “Could Michaela Williams come to the first floor? Her father is waiting for her.” Her heart leapt for joy. She quickly pressed the number 1. The elevator doors could not close fast enough. As they opened to the first floor, Michaela pushed passed a lady to get out. She looked up and saw her father. She ran to him and hugged him tightly, vowing silently that she would never let him go.
“God has a plan, keep clinging to this,
Forget your agenda, look to his.
As you walk by faith clinging, to his hand,
Remember this, God has a plan.
– Jan McIntosh
There are so many pieces of life. At times it is uncertain how they fit. However there is always a grand design. The direction is uncertain but faith leads the way in the creation of the big picture. Lisa Earle McLeod in her publication Forget Perfect introduces the concept of “front sight”. Foresight is looking forward and hindsight is looking back. Yet front sight requires the ability to picture oneself ten years from now and speak to the present self.
This radical tactic assists with decision making as the big picture is already revealed. The necessary pieces are being dealt with in the present to fit the puzzle together. There are two options. Either the pieces are given to you or the pieces are given with the big picture. The first option generally leads to frustration and the feeling of despair. With the second option, the big picture is the motivation to put the pieces together. The process becomes an enjoyable one and the result feels even more fulfilling.
The big picture gives purpose to life. Teamwork develops a better individual. Success requires cooperation, honour and respect. Honour is a two way experience. Success also involves love and forgiveness. Certain behaviours should be adopted in dealing with others. Work with joy. Efficiency is doing the job right and effectiveness is doing the right job. Refrain from arguing and complaining, about the tasks at hand or with others. Instead of gossiping, find ways to encourage one another and ameliorate the situation. Condemn the action and not the person.
Be content with the present. Practice the values of humility, compassion, self control, faith and forgiveness. Trust in God and the plan that He has for you will surpass your earthly expectations. Trust God to be the undisputable guide, comfort and power throughout the journey. Trust in God and the little pieces of the puzzle will combine to form the great design of your life.
Regina looked into James’ eyes and he looked into hers. This was the happiest day of her life. Behind them were specially selected family and friends. He put his hand into hers. They turned around to face these people for the first time as man and wife. Dreams of fulfillment and happily ever after floated in her mind. In retrospect, there were so many warnings. She wished she could have told her past self to stop because she was making a huge mistake in marrying James. Her heart was caught up in the fulfillment of the childhood fairy tale. The perfect dress coupled with the perfect song to walk down the aisle. Yet her dress was falling apart like the title of Achebe’s novel, being a precursor of her life to come. The carefully selected wedding song, sadly only she would remember it, not family, friends and certainly not her James.
They could not even consummate the marriage that night. After being rejected by an exclusive hotel, his plans of surprising her with a room turned out to surprise them with no room. Regina’s hips were cursing the rest of her body and not because of James’ expected sexual prowess as the male role of the wedding night. Her hips hurt because she was wearing the pretty, too tight but perfect Cinderella glass shoes. These shoes were obviously still for Cinderella, for they were not the perfect fit. Regina, unlike the fairy tale princess, did not have the perfect fit in anything. The dress fell apart, the shoes were too tight and James was not the Prince Charming that little girls believe in when they are planning their fairy tale wedding.
Before they were married he talked about different sexual experiences that were against Regina’s beliefs, claiming it would spice up the marriage. His aim was to make her smile. She was the naïve girl, who was not used to playing games of survival. Regina believed that James would protect her. She believed that he would take care of her. She believed James would never hurt her. But James broke Regina’s heart many times, while they were married. She had had enough. She felt belittled and betrayed. He found Regina broken and made the emotional cracks deeper and put even more cracks in her broken state. James left Regina because she asked him. She asked him to leave out of love. She was enabling the negative behavior which was being experienced whenever they were together. By stopping this behavior, Regina was giving James the ultimate gift and act of love. They both needed to miss each other in order to appreciate one another. Time would be the great healer. Patience and humility were the virtues hoped to be acquired with time.
The average woman takes words and actions personally. It takes a lot of emotional effort to go against that norm. Many problems originate from the acceptance of another person’s perception and portrayal. In the refusal of this acceptance, the journey of self love begins. Everything associated with happiness and integrity eventually reveals itself in life.
Famous philosopher Lao Tzu notes that all things are accomplished in nature. Worry is unnecessary. It is a waste of precious time and important energy. Worry strengthens the nightmare which exists in your mind. Dreams and nightmares have to be fed in order for them to stay alive. Let worry die its natural death. Stop coercion and execute tasks well. Efficiency is tiresome. Success requires the completion of the right task. A well done task is not necessarily done harder and faster. It sometimes needs a gentle touch and a natural resolution. When the action is forced the end result is not as good as if nature follows its course. In the case of coercion, it must eventually resume the natural path that was predestined.
The determining element between yesterday and today is strength. Yesterday should make us stronger today. Yesterday is not to be forgotten but used in today’s decisions. Change occurs between the time frames of today and yesterday.
Therefore consider the following steps to be stronger than yesterday.
- Stop taking actions and words personally
- Do not accept another person’s perception of yourself.
- Stop perceiving people as bad or wrong. They are just different.
- Do not fight fire with fire, by responding to remarks and suggestions.
- Release negative emotions through writing un-mailed letters.
- Find a trusted friend to vent problems and issues.
- Establish your boundaries.
These steps should be put into place to ensure that the individual does not revert to the captive, negative state. Captivity is experienced when fear is associated with another person’s response. Be free. However experience freedom responsibly. There is a concept of too much freedom, which can weaken the individual. Worship, rest, work and play should be experienced in even levels to ensure a balanced lifestyle. Relationships with family and friends play a central role in life. Communication is the key to fulfillment and understanding in relationships. That key should be used to unlock the closed doors which are misunderstandings within relationships. If the key is forced and pushed hard and fast, the door will not open. Strength yields to a gentle touch.
Her stomach rumbles from hunger and exhaustion. She smiles as she looks across the table at her children. Her son asks “What’s wrong?” She tells him softly but firmly to eat his food. Her heart is full of joy.They don’t have enough to eat but at least her children are fed. She could do without her meal, so they could have a little more sustenance.
He clutches a letter in his hand. The job he had for fifteen years has been made redundant. How will he pay the bills? How will he pay the mortgage? How will he find money to support his four children and his wife? He has enough for a month, but what will the following month hold?
Each night she dreads her husband coming home. The atmosphere is full of tension and negativity. Everything she does isn’t enough. He questions her cleanliness. He rejects the food she cooks. He gets upset with her preparation of a meal. He argues with her in each conversation. The caring, loving person she had married, who would do anything to see her smile, no longer exists. What remains is a cold individual, who is more contented with going out at night than spending time home with the family.
Enough is enough. Loss comes in different forms: poverty, job or marriage, just to name a few. There are two options, either continue to wallow in self pity or allow the positive energy to take over. The positive decision usually goes against societal expectations. Many will question “why?”. Explanation is unnecessary. True friends understand. Enemies will never believe you. So why bother to waste time and energy explaining thoughts and actions. Believe that time strengthens and heals the mind, body and soul.