Sunday, January 17, 2016

BEING KINDER by Susan Harris

The profile picture was blank and I had not seen a post from Charlie since 2012, but earlier this month, Facebook notified me that it was his birthday. I grimaced, not wanting to pass up the opportunity to wish an old classmate cheers of the day but unsure if he even visited his own page. Two hours later I was still thinking about it so quickly I typed a simple “Happy Birthday” on Charlie’s timeline. 

Back in high school our form teacher had “punished” me and my friend, Cindy, by putting Charlie to sit between us so we’d talk less. Intelligent, quiet, nerdy Charlie. At first, he was open to the suggestion of exchanging seats so us girls could be together, but gradually he refused. He had become quite interested in our girl talk and  enjoyed being included in the conversations.

A dozen years later I ran into him one Sunday evening at an ATM location. His welcome was so exuberant that I could not find the shy, quiet teenager I last knew him to be.

“Can I take you for dinner?” he asked after the exclamations of what the years had done to each of us had concluded. I gestured to my car where four young ladies were waiting. “No, I’m speaking at a church tonight and my friends and I are on our way there.”

“Tomorrow then?” He sounded really sincere so I had to tell him the truth.

“I don’t go out alone with guys, Charlie. Sorry, but how about coming to church with us.”

Charlie glanced at my left hand, ignored the invitation to church, then piped up. “Bring your husband then.” 

I giggled and shook my head. I did not know how serious he was, but I was so surprised at this loud, extroverted engineer that Charlie had become that I needed time to adjust to that change before I introduced a husband at a dinner table. I glanced at my watch then bade him goodbye, smiling at his parting words “I don’t know how I let the good girls slip out of my hands at high school."

On the evening of writing the birthday greeting, I was astonished to see a notification that Charlie had liked and commented on my post. “Thanks for remembering, Susan. It’s that time again, and like you, I reflect on ….”

How did Charlie know I reflect the way I do? It turned out that all these years he, without a picture on social media, had followed my posts. Without leaving any trace of a like or comment. Pretty much like I do on a lot of posts I read. Pretty much like a lot of people do on posts that impact and challenge their lives. We move on when we could be kinder by letting the person know what an encouragement their words had been.

I’ve not made New Year resolutions over the last ten years or so and I’m not making one this year. But I am interested in being kinder, in reaching out to the ones on the sidelines, the less popular and visible, as a new beginning.

 What about you?

SUSAN HARRIS  is an author, speaker and former teacher.


Lux G. said...

I think if to be kinder is the only resolution/goal one has for the year, it's going to be a fulfilling year. :)
No resolutions for me either.

Glynis said...
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Glynis said...

Charlie sounds like an interesting fellow. You handled the situation very well, I must say. And I like the message of your post here, Susan. 'Being Kinder' is always a good goal to have at any time of the year, isn't it? Sometimes it takes extra energy to do so, but that extra energy is time well spent sharing the Fruits of the Spirit! Well done. Well said.

Susan Harris said...

Thanks for your lovely words, Glynis. You are an encourager by nature and exude kindness in your writing. Interestingly, a reunion is being planned, the date is actually in June in Brooklyn, NY. Not sure I'm going though.

Peter Black said...

A cute smiler of a story, Susan! Sowing seeds of kindness really does produce a harvest. It may not be realized in few months or even a year or two, but as in Charlie's case, it may take many years. I'm sure that heaven alone knows and will ultimately reveal the full extent of our influence in sowing seeds of kindness and encouragement that reap goodness in people's lives. ~~+~~

Susan Harris said...

That is indeed so, Lux. I actually revisit my year on my birthday and set a theme by which I live for that year. Hence the dissolution of the New Year resolution.:-). I hope your year is a beautiful and bountiful one.

Susan Harris said...
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Susan Harris said...

I actually think you are the kindest person on the blog, Peter. You've read each of my blogs on the TWG site since I've been blogging, and always leaves an encouraging comment. You too inspire me to be kinder. I am not on the Internet as much as I used to be so that's somewhat of a deterrent to doing more. But I want to be a faithful steward of whatever time I spend on the net.

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