Intentional Acts of Appreciation
6+ years ago, I was a young mom of 2 small children. One of those kids was chronically ill and miserable. Tony was working fulltime for the same company he does today, and he was going to school to earn his MBA. I was stressed and lonely. It was a really hard time. One of those times that you realize at the time that it's hard.
My sweet sick child cried constantly. We were waiting for the ENT to have an opening so we could get this poor child ear tubes. The child had been sick since February of 2005. I remember the doctor's office let me pick which antibiotic to use because we all knew none of them were going to help. And the child cried. And cried. And clung to me. With Tony seemingly always gone, the child wasn't used to him. So, I held the child. All the time.
I remember feeling like I was hitting my breaking point. I remember calling what felt like everyone I knew looking for someone to do something with. The walls were closing in on me. I will never forget one Friday night. I was near desperate for adult interaction. I called someone I didn't consider a close friend (or really much more than an acquitance) because I knew her husband wasn't home. I asked if she would like to get together. She said no. She had to shop for a comforter. I hung up the phone and sobbed. I was coming unglued, and she needed a comforter. Fair enough.
We always went to church- with or without Tony. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. And I always got called down to the nursery. The workers were kind, but could not get sweet sick child to stop crying. It was too much for them. I understood, but wanted to cry, too. Was I ever going to get a break? And then, one Wednesday night, I did.
A sweet sweet mom came up to me. We were friendly, but not particularly close. No ill will, just not a lot of interaction. You know those types of relationships. She is a few years younger than I am. I was standing in the foyer of the church, and sweet sick child was sobbing. I was crying, too. I will never forget. She came up to me and asked if she could hold the child. I explained that the crying wasn't going to stop. She sweetly told me that if the child was going to cry regardless that she would be happy to take a turn so that I could have a break from it. And she took the baby. And went outside and sang. And the crying continued. Some from the baby, but a lot from me.
I don't think I realized at the time the impact that act of kindness was going to have on me. I'm quite certain she didn't think a thing of it. She likely doesn't even remember, but I do. I remember feeling like Jesus himself had come down and taken that baby from me. I remember breathing. Deeply. For the first time in months.
It changed me, and I've told lots of people that story. It occurred to me today, however, that I'm not sure I ever told her how thankful I was. So, today, I'm telling her thank you. I'm not going to type her name for the entire world to see, because I'm quite certain she wouldn't want that. But I'll make sure she sees this. And knows how very very thankful I was for her kindness.
And now I encourage you. I encourage you to tell someone thank you. Too much time has not passed. The thank you will still be appreciated. It should never feel like going out on a limb to show gratitude. (And I encourage you to say yes to helping someone. To kindness. You just never know how much that person might need to take a deep breath.)