Just Be Kind
A few years ago, our local Quaker church coined a yard sign that read: Just Be Kind. The signs are still visible in many yards around town and the message still rings true. What would our world be like if we were simply more kind to one another across the board?
My husband and I needed a few things from the grocery store last weekend and stopped at a Fareway store. It was not our normal store, but it was close to our other errands, so we found a parking spot and popped in to grab our shortlist of items.
It was not very busy. The aisles were wide and spacious. A few stray shoppers were making their way through, crossing off items as they went. But one family caught my attention. Two parents and a small child were in the bread aisle. The child was no more than three years old, sitting in the cart playing on a cell phone while his parents pushed him along. The boy asked a question. He wasn’t loud or obnoxious, he simply asked something. And the mother, probably in her mid-twenties, replied directly using a cuss work in the middle of her sentence.
I was immediately taken aback. The child was small. He had done nothing wrong. The mother’s tone was sharp and direct. The boy went back to the cell phone. And then he said something else and pointed to the phone. The mother snatched the phone out of his hands and stuffed it in her back pocket. The child raised his voice a degree and asked for it back. Again, the mother swore at the child, this time directing the explicit at him. She told him he’d better stop whining and threatened him with punishment.
His little head fell, and he folded his hands on the shopping cart handle. He was so small and so undeserving of such vulgar behavior. The father (or at least I assumed it was the father) kept pushing the cart. His conversation with the mother was calm and decent. It was the child taking the brunt. No one came to his defense.
That yard sign came to my mind. I wanted to stick it in her cart. Is it any wonder elementary school teachers are dealing with more anger and violence in their classrooms than ever before? Children are being raised in unloving homes with self-serving parents. By the time the children get to school, everything they’ve bottled up from home pours out and explodes into the classrooms.
It breaks my heart. I watched that family make their way back to the meat counter. The two adults were still discussing their list and other things. The child was mostly ignored or disciplined in the cart. His little face was sad. I smiled at him and his eyes lit up for a moment, then he glanced at the mother and I watched his eyes fade again. He was hesitant to interact.
All I can do for that little guy in the cart is pray for him and his future. I don’t know him. I do not live in his town. I have no connection to him. But Jesus does. I handed him over to Jesus in prayer right there at the meat counter.
Just Be Kind. It needs to be more than a yard sign. It needs to be a message we shout from the mountaintops and blast over social media. It needs to be a message we live and demonstrate. May we find it in our hearts to be kind in both word and deed so others may experience our joy, if even for a moment.