Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Cheapest Way to Pay it Forward

I struggled to get out of the store after a long, tiring grocery shopping trip.  The baby was strapped to me in the Moby Wrap, crying,  and two little ones were ordered to hold on to the side of the over-full cart.  Soon after stepping out through the automatic door, a woman with a kind face and a teenage daughter stopped me.  "You're doing a great job!  Your children are so well behaved!  Please let me help you with your groceries."  She then pushed the cart while I held one child in each hand.  Once we reached the car, I buckled in the little ones and calmed the baby while her and her daughter tried to figure out how to fit all my bags around the stroller in the back of the car.

Her kind words (and many others like them over my 8 years of being a mother) really struck me.  Her words even had more impact on me than the fact that she helped pack my bags into the car.  I want to be that woman.  I want to pay that forward.  I want to lift others up! 

I'm not in a position currently to help others financially.  And as a busy mom I don't always have the time and energy to give service in the traditional sense.  But kind words are free.  Kind words are easy.  Kind words are uplifting.


"I'm so stressed out!  I don't feel like I'm doing anything right some days!" my friend lamented to me.  She was working herself ragged trying to take care of her home and children and dealing with the other stresses of life.  All she could see was the things that were going wrong.  But all I could see were the many wonderful things she was doing right.  So I touched my hand to her knee and said, "I've been there, too.  It seems I'm "there" often.  You are a good mom!  You're an inspiration to me."


"Go tell Shirley 'thank you' for having us over," my friend told her little one after a fun playdate.   The handsome boy reluctantly walked closer to me and mumbled a shy, "Thank you."  I knelt down at his level, looked him in the eye, took his hand gently, and said, "You're welcome.  I'm so glad you came today."


We all stood up and started putting away our chairs after the closing prayer of the Family Support Group, for which I'm facilitator.  As we worked, we continued to talk with each other about God, addiction, our loved ones, our struggles, the 12 Steps, and even unrelated things like the weather.  Sometimes the "meeting" after the meeting is the most uplifting and supportive part.  This is our time to make real connections and friendships with each other, share ideas, and expand on thoughts and testimonies that were shared during the meeting. While one member told us about how excited she was to visit her grandkids in another state next week, I noticed Jane (name changed) try to sneak out.

She had only attended a couple times and shared a tiny, mostly vague, part of her story so far.  I wasn't sure what in her life had prompted her to start coming, but it was very clear that she felt hopeless and depressed.  Obviously she needed healing and peace, and I knew that she could find it in the Atonement of Christ through the 12 Steps. But in the beginning of “recovery,” before you gain a testimony of the process, it can be hard to attend each week. Just like with addicts, co-dependents won't seek recovery until the pain of the solution is less than the pain of the problem. Many new members of the group need encouragement to keep coming back. They need to feel like they are loved and that their contributions to the group are important. I caught her eye before she had a chance to step out the door and said, "Thank you for coming.  You're right where you need to be.  See you next week!"

I looked down at my peacefully nursing newborn.  As a new mom, I quickly became overwhelmed with thoughts of all the things I needed to teach her.  Then my mind cleared and I thought, "If I could have her learn just one thing, what would be the most important?"  So I looked her in the eyes and said softly, "You are a daughter of God.  And you are of worth because you're His child and He loves you."


Everyone needs to feel needed.  Everyone needs to feel loved.  

What can you do to lift those around you?  Even sharing some simple words of kindness can make a huge difference in someone's life, young or old.

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