The early afternoon summer sun was reflecting off the bright blue water as my pre-adolescent self, all scrawniness and gangly limbs, burst from the pool change room in a purple- dotted bathing suit.
I was a ten-year-old juxtaposition: a little girl whose eyes were sparkling in anticipation of a fun afternoon in my friend’s grandparents’ pool, and yet at the same time also a child whose spirit had taken to hunching, an attempt to self-protect in a world I already knew could be confusing and sometimes painful.
My friend’s mother, Beth, stopped me right as I reached the water’s edge.
“You are so beautiful,” Beth said, smiling down at me. She touched my shoulder gently before sending me off into the pool to play.
It was a momentary, split-second interaction, and yet I stored her kindness in my heart where it still sits on this day many many years later.
Her simple words accompanied me through the not- always- easy growing up years that followed that sweet, innocent summer day. Years where I was the uncoordinated, frizzy haired kid who wasn’t quite sure of herself and often felt alone.
The balm of her words, along with additional encouragement from others, stayed with me as more years passed and I finally began to grow out of being an awkward, nervous teen and into the happy woman I am today.
It inspired in me a desire to pass along kindness to those I encounter and to do my small part to be an encourager of others.
I once somewhere read something to the effect of that we never truly know what the people we encounter each day are facing, and so we should always endeavor to tread gently.
The tracks we leave as we walk through life can be ones of hopelessness or hope in the lives and spirits of others.
It doesn’t take having a highly accomplished career or a ton of money or an amazing personality: having our hearts open and attuned to the small needs of others around us can change lives forever. I think this is one of the miracles of our world.
“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” ― Mother Teresa