Shortly after I had given birth to Elijah, I began through a series of health problems, one of the symptoms of which was anxiety at random. Looking back with a medical understanding of what was going on, I realize now that my body was starving for oxygen, but at the time, I was scared, tired and a little insecure.
I had just had a baby, I was overweight, and I wasn’t sure what was wrong with me or when/ if it would end. The relentless and unpredictable nature of the anxieties were testing my sanity. I didn’t have enough energy to clean my house. I tried to use most of my energy to take care of the kids. I found it helped to get outside. Being indoors seemed to feel dark.
I remember one afternoon, as I sat with my little bundle on my lap, the little 13 year old girl from across the street came over. She was just as sweet and care free as can be. She would take care of the neighbor next door’s dog when she was away and we would wave at one another. She had no way of knowing what I was going through as I would always flash her a smile and say “hi.” One evening she came over with her girl-friend from school to coo at the baby. There was no social barrier between us, she simply wanted to know if he was a good baby, if he knew how to wave yet, if she could hold him. “Of course” I said as I handed him over. I had no makeup on, my dark circles looking like two purple bruises under my eyes, my tummy lapped over the top of my skirt as I sat.
It had been a long time since I had felt “put together” or even not ugly. I didn’t feel good, I struggled to keep my body still as my mind raced with anxieties stemming from the suffocation going on inside me unknowingly. Then Olivia (that was the girl’s name) said something to me, that still makes me smile every time I think about it.
She sat there holding Elijah, I didn’t really have the energy to worry about my appearance or much else for that matter, yet Olivia had no idea that what she said to me, the fact that she even wanted to talk to me, changed my day. I felt like the struggle was written all over my face and that I was some sort of a wet blanket for anyone’s joy, yet she and her little friend were so bright and so friendly. I had been feeling alone and tired in my soul. I had been through a spiritual, emotional and physical wringing-out. She sat there touching Elijah’s hands, laughing at how chubby he was, then her attention turned to me. She asked me about where we used to live, a hundred other questions that helped pull me out of my own head and have one of the first conversations in a while that wasn’t about me being sick. She looked at me from head down and said “I love your hair that way, look at her hair (she said to her friend), I like how she does her ponytail.” Now I know, this was a common compliment, probably said a million different ways to a million different girls; but to me, that day, it was almost a shock. I hadn’t been told I was pretty or been really looked at by anyone but my husband in a very long time. I had felt like I was giving up on myself, yet here was this girl looking into my eyes in sincerity finding the best thing about me and pointing it out.
Olivia was very genuine as we sat and chatted on the front porch. She wasn’t a bother, in fact, she still has no idea how much I needed that evening. She was one little girl who spoke from a place of kindness and sincerity in her heart and the meaning was felt deeply. I guess what I am getting at is that there are a lot of people chatting, but not listening, there are a lot of people looking into people’s eyes, but not seeing them.
Whenever possible, reach outside of yourself and into the path of someone else, be real, be genuine, and love people. You never know when you’ll come across that person who needs someone to be interested in them, they just need one kind word. That is the power of one.