Kindness Matters

All of us go through hard things.  We all have trials and tribulations.  We all weather storms.  Sometimes those storms are colossal hurricanes or a powerful earthquake that shatters your world, and sometime they are just small rain showers.  No matter the severity, we all face them at different times in our lives. That cashier at the grocery store may have just found out her mom has cancer.  The boy crossing the street alone may have recently lost his dog. The mom with the crying baby in the restaurant may have a deployed husband who she hasn’t spoken to in months.  The man sitting alone in the park may have lost his job.  The teen in line in front of you may have failed an important test.  The woman in the car next to you at the light with tears slowly rolling down her face may have just gotten terrible news.  The girl who seems to have it all together all the time could be crumbling inside.  The point is that you may never know what someone is going through. Every single person you encounter in a day has his or her own baggage just like you have your own. 

Many people are good at hiding what is going on inside.  They put on a brave face and carry on with life while their heart is being ripped open from the inside out. I know women who suffer in silence because they can’t get pregnant or sustain a pregnancy and no one else knows what they have gone through.  I’ve heard stories of so many young children who commit suicide and no one, including their parents, knew they were struggling.  I know of men who have served our country that are struggling to figure out who they are now that they have seen such horrible things.  We come across these people all the time without knowing.  They could even smile at us, and we don’t see the pain in their eyes. Some could be our own friends or family. Some are strangers. Of course we don’t go looking for these people, and they don’t seek us out.  Maybe we should.

I urge you to choose kindness.  Choose to smile at strangers you pass. Say a kind word to someone you encounter.  A simple please and thank you goes a long way. Give a compliment to someone new.  Do small acts of kindness. Lend your shoulder to someone to cry on. Ask how someone is doing and really mean it.   Let that person know that you want an answer other than “fine” because you truly care about their wellbeing. Take the high road.  Your kindness could be the thing that puts a real smile on someone’s face or fills a void in his or her heart.  Your kind words could mean the difference in someone choosing to take their own life.  Your smile could turn someone else’s day around completely. Your shoulder could bring healing.

What do you have to loose by being kind? Yes, it may take time away from your day, but there is so much you could get from it. Maybe it saves someone’s life. Maybe it will save your own.  Maybe it is the one thing that will heal your own broken heart.   Maybe it is what you were called to do.  Maybe it is God’s purpose for your life.  You have nothing to loose and everything to gain just by choosing kindness.  Choosing to live a life of joy by spreading kindness IS what we are called to do.    It IS the right choice. Kindness matters.  

Anchored,

Introvert…Yep! That’s Me!

To say that I am an introvert is an understatement.  I am very good at making it not appear that way when I have to, but those that know me well, know that it is true.  If you observe me with my friends, you wouldn’t believe me because I can be loud and joke around with them.  I really have a hard time in groups of people that I don’t know well.  I think that is why it takes me so long to develop good friendships every time we move. I have even had friends tell me that when they first met me, they thought that I was stuck up because I didn’t talk or interact with them much.  When they finally got to really know me, they saw that wasn’t the case at all.  I am just very shy and awkward around people I don’t know well.  I like to stand back and observe and not really interact until I am more comfortable. I keep to myself.  It is why I don’t like to talk on the phone even to my friends and family.  I would much rather text or email you any day of the week than talk to you on the phone. I am much better with talking on the phone when I initiate it than I am when someone just calls me and I wasn’t expecting it.  I don’t like parties and most social functions unless it is with my very close group of friends.  I would rather hang out with my best friends inside a beach house than go out and party any night of the week.  It was the same way even back in college.  As a military wife, we have to host and attend a lot of parties and I hate every one of them.  I would rather just stay home in my little bubble. Social gatherings make me uncomfortable.  It is kind of funny because my husband is the exact same way.  He will even go as far as saying that he just doesn’t like people. We are both awkward and extremely introverted together, and that is why we work so well. We can both sit in the same room for hours and not speak to each other and be totally ok with that. We both like our space and our time to ourselves.   It is just who we are.  

This is all on my mind after this past weekend at my daughter’s cheerleading competition. I have a really hard time interacting with the other moms on our team.  It isn’t because I don’t like them.  It is just about me being shy and uncomfortable in the situation because I don’t know any of them that well.  I tend to stand off to the side with my husband or by myself and just observe.  I know they all probably think I am anti-social and stuck up, but I’m really just awkward.  I don’t know what to say or do in those situations. During the weekend my husband walked away from the room we were in at one point (he couldn’t stand the crowd himself and had to leave), but I was really trying to interact the best I could with some of the moms.  I was putting in a solid effort even though it was hard. Anyway, there was a point where most of the moms kind of scattered and I was left with just a couple of them. I suddenly felt like I was the odd man out in the conversation and became VERY uncomfortable. I was just kind of standing there awkwardly, so I made up some excuse about needing to leave. I left and tried to locate my husband.  There were a million people at this event and there were people EVERYWHERE.  The more I couldn’t find my husband, the more anxious I got for some reason. I did not like that feeling.  I wanted out of the situation and I wanted to find my comfort zone and couldn’t.  My husband was getting annoyed with me as I was sending text after text trying to find him. It was ridiculous.  I am a grown woman and should not feel that way! 

When I was younger, it was even worse. I used to make my little sister do stuff for me all of the time because I didn’t want to talk to people.  For example, if I was at Chick-fil-a and needed a refill on my drink, I would make her go up to the counter and ask for it because I was too afraid to do it myself.  I was that painfully shy. I will sometimes still make my husband do things like call and talk to the insurance company or something when I am too shy or uncomfortable to do it myself. It’s crazy, I know! I was forced to get over some of that, thankfully, because of my husband’s career.  With him deployed so much, I was forced to learn to do things on my own and overcome my fears of interacting with others.  When he is home, though, I do sometimes revert back to my extreme shyness like I did this weekend.  I just can’t help it.  It is who I am. I wish I could change it, but I don’t know how.  

I see myself in my oldest daughter all the time.  She has the same awkward shyness that I had as a kid. Sometimes I think she is even worse than me. She is almost 15 years old and ordering food in a restaurant is nearly impossible for her. At the doctor’s office, the doctor will ask her questions and she won’t say anything. Instead she looks and me and waits for me to tell him how she feels like I know what it going on inside her body.  It’s sad. I also see her making her little sister do things that she is afraid to do herself just like I did. I worry about her. I wish I knew how to help her overcome that so she doesn’t struggle with the same things that I have struggled with my whole life. I wish I could give her boldness.  I wish I could take away the shyness. I wish I could convince her that it is ok to talk to others.  How can I do that when I can’t even do it for myself sometimes, though? 

It is funny to me that I can write about all of this and put it out there into the world for everyone to read, but I could never have this conversation with anyone in person.  I guess you could say that I hide behind my computer and my phone. It is much easier to type than it is to actually interact in person for me.  Maybe one day I will get over it, but I certainly won’t be holding my breath. I think I just have to accept that it is a part of me. It is who and I am, and I just have to continue to learn to cope with it the best I can.

Anchored and Introverted,