Just as Brian and I were leaving church this morning, a woman who had been sitting next to us during the service decided to greet us. At first, I didn’t really know what to do. Usually when a stranger greets me, my bubbly personality takes over and I happily engage in conversation. Since our beautiful daughter passed away, I have had a hard time finding my footing in moments like this. It took a moment for me to figure out how to respond. She asked if we were just visiting, and I told her we had been in the area for a while now but hadn’t found our church home quite yet. She said she was glad we came, and hoped to see us next week. Her smile was warm and inviting. She spoke so sweetly and her joy radiated through me.
If only she could see how broken I am. It has been 5 weeks since Aria left this earth and my wounds are still so raw. I find myself randomly shedding tears throughout the day, and I’m still figuring out how to live life after loss. So here I was, barely managing to maintain my own friendships, and I was joyfully engaging in conversation with someone I had never met before. Somehow, in that moment I felt happy. I was so glad that someone reached out and recognized that I was here. She was overwhelmingly kind and exactly what my damaged heart needed this morning. I even wondered if she felt God leading her to greet me.
My interaction with this woman really got me thinking. I wondered how many times I ignored someone because I was too shy to say hello. How many times have I been impatient with someone who was barely hanging on by a thread? Most of the time we can’t see the brokeness in others. We don’t know they are hurting, but the way we treat them makes such a huge difference.
A few weeks ago, I was checking out at Target when the cashier joked with me about the weather. I hadn’t smiled in days, but I knew this conversation would become very awkward if I didn’t respond. So I forced a laugh and agreed with her. And you know what? That forced laugh was enough to bring my mood up just a little bit. It gave me hope that I would soon find joy and real laughter again. In the cashier’s eyes, we were just talking about a snowstorm. But to me, we were proving that happiness is still out there.
You never know what your actions will bring to someone’s life. How we treat others can have an incredible impact, and we may never realize how meaningful something actually was. Today I learned how valuable a simple “hello” can be. It is my hope that anyone reading this feels encouraged to be bold with their kindness. Go forth and spread joy into the world, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Your actions matter so much more than you think.