My daughter attends the youth group meetings at our church every Wednesday night. Without fail. I mean, well. . .religiously. And a few weeks ago, the theme of the group was “Encouragement Night.” The teens and young adults in attendance spent the evening finding ways to send encouraging messages to their friends and family. Given that this is the 21st century, some sent text messages to their friends, some made phone calls, and some sent emails.
But my daughter decided to go Old School. She made a list of 42 friends and family and sent each of them a handwritten encouraging message on a piece of stationary via snail mail, so that each person received a personalized note delivered directly to his or her mailbox.
When I asked her why she chose this approach, she said, “Every time I get something in the mail, it brightens my day and makes me feel special. And I want these people to feel that way, too.”
Furthermore, as she was writing them, she realized that there were 52 weeks in a year, so she upped the list by ten people, figuring that even though she would be sending them all out at the same time, the impact would be the same as if she sent one encouraging note every week for an entire year. Needless to say, she couldn’t do it all in the space of a two hour youth group meeting, so it took her several days to complete all of the notecards.
The thing of it is: My daughter was born with severe vision issues. And while she compensated very well for most of her life, her vision took a huge turn for the worse during her sophomore year. She required two more eye surgeries, bringing her lifetime total to 12. For reasons that the doctors still can’t explain, her eye muscles now cause her a great deal of pain. Daily. She is a senior now, but since her vision crashed, she has started using the white cane with the red tip, learned to read Braille, and works with a 1-on-1 aide who travels with her during the school day to do her reading and writing for her because focusing her eyes to do any reading or writing at all—which, it must be said, are her two favorite pastimes--not only causes her vision to go blurry, but makes her eye muscles throb in pain.
And yet as you can see from the picture that accompanies this post, she wrote out each note to a list of 52 special people and sent them out, anyway, even though it caused her pain. I’m happy to say that my card arrived only a day or two after she dropped the stack of brightly colored envelopes in the mail.
Not only am I incredibly proud of her for her sacrifice, but this activity was an object lesson to me that even if we’re dealing with an annoying colleague, a situation that is less than convenient, or circumstances that might even cause us some pain or discomfort, kindness may be the only reasonable and appropriate response--even when it isn’t easy or comfortable.
Sometimes, as it turns out, there IS a cost to expressing kindness.
But my daughter showed me that sometimes we need to do it, anyway.
Even if it hurts. TZT