“In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – Jennifer Dukes Lee
When I was a junior in college I broke my arm. More specifically, I broke my radial head, the part of your forearm that connects to your elbow. I had never broken a bone before. And honestly the inconvenience of not being able to use my arm for the better part of two months was far more difficult than the pain. I couldn’t bend or twist my arm at all for the first several weeks, I couldn’t grip anything with my hand. You realize how much you need your arm when you can’t use it. I couldn’t do most house chores, I couldn’t tie my own hair back, I couldn’t open my own pill bottles, I couldn’t put on a bra.
I became very dependent on everyone around me and it was challenging. I needed my roommates to cook my meals, do my chores, tie my hair back so I could wash my face. I needed my coworkers to do most of my job for me. Growing bone is also exhausting, so I was tired all the time. Honestly, it was a pretty embarrassing, helpless time.
But because I broke my arm right at the elbow, I didn’t have a cast. They wanted me to start moving my arm as much as possible as soon as possible so that it didn’t heal in one position. I had a sling that I was supposed to wear to alert people around me that I was injured and I needed space. But the sling was removable. So I often didn’t wear it.
Because I didn’t want people to know I was broken and helpless.
All in all, it worked out. No one ended up bumping into me, I didn’t trip and fall and hurt myself more, my chores got done, my job got done, I got fed, my school work was completed. For eight weeks I went about campus and almost no one knew that I was injured and exhausted. My arm healed, and life went on.
My point, if it isn’t obvious yet, is that we have no idea what someone is going through. Not everyone you encounter will have a literal broken arm, but everyone around you is going through something. And we don’t want the world around us to know. Your coworkers may be struggling financially, your friends marriage may be falling apart, your family members may be struggling with depression.
We are all hurt, we are all exhausted, we are all embarrassed at how broken we feel.
So this week, I challenge you to be kinder. Ask your barista how their day is going and really listen, give the people on the sidewalk a little extra room, reach out to your friends who you haven’t heard from in a while and let them know you still care. If someone is short with you, give them some grace. If someone is quieter, say hello. Set aside your pride, your self-centeredness, and be kind instead. Find one moment every day this week to be intentionally kind.
Maybe we won’t change the world with kindness, but maybe we will.