I’ve lifted this week’s quote from one of this week’s weekend reads. In his last Instaram post, thebenevolentone3 uses the above quote (which is one of my favorites) to explain why he chose to post kind and inspiring captions about his classmates. There are so many things in my own life that I remember because of the way in which they made me feel from the bully on the bus in seventh grade who relentlessly ridiculed my outfits each day to the high school English teacher who went out of his way to make me (and the rest of the class) feel intelligent, witty and important. When a coach or teacher makes one of my children feel good about themselves, I can literally see the confidence swell in their chests but when someone says something hurtful you can almost see their hearts breaking.
In church this week, the sermon focused on Genesis 42 and how the unresolved sins of yesterday have lasting effects on our lives today. In the story, Joseph, who had been sold into slavery as a teenager by his older brothers, has risen to become the most powerful man in all of Egypt next to Pharaoh when encounters his brothers for the first time in two decades. Despite his power and his position, seeing his brothers drudges the pain they caused him all of those years ago. Joseph never forgot the way in which they made him feel.
Each day we make choices about how we are going to interact those around us. Are we going to be the bully on the bus that makes a little girl dread going to school each day, or are we going to be the teacher who uplifts their students instilling a love of art or music or literature or science? Will you be like my chemistry teacher who asked me, in front of a room full of my peers, if I was stupid, causing me to hate anything and everything related to the periodic table? Or will you be like my physics teacher who, when I was frustrated and about to give up, told me that if she could do it, then I most certainly could? Her words and confidence made me believe in myself and actually led to me to earning a small physics scholarship for college.
Just as the effects of terrible deeds and cruelty can have a lasting impact on our lives, so can the effects of beauty and kindness and love. How much better would the world be if each and every person took a moment to do something kind or uplifting for another person each day. When someone compliments me, it can brighten my whole day but one nasty comment can resonate for weeks. My hope is that I am remembered for making people feel good about themselves and I have actually found that the more kindness I show others, the better I feel about myself.