I have found myself seeing so much that needs to be done yet feeling so inadequate to make a dent. I’m not talking about just at my house. I’m talking about at my church. I’m talking about in my community. I’m talking about in the world. I see problems. I know of people hurting. But, I can’t fix it all. The needs are too great. Where do I even start? I’m overwhelmed.
In response, part of me has wanted to throw up my arms in defeat and do nothing since I can’t do everything. But, a few months ago, I read a very encouraging story in a book. A lady named Falaka Fattah made this amazing impact in her sphere of influence. She significantly changed lives for the better. She stated, “While no one person can do everything, anyone can start something.” (Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2, page 49). Reading her story showed me how important it was that she did do something. And, I realized the same is true for me…and for you. None of us can do everything. But each of us can do something. And, our something does make a difference.
I can have that widow over for supper.
I can make that washcloth for the missionary in the third world country who requested one.
I can homeschool my kids.
I can bring a meal to the family who just had a baby.
I can babysit my friend’s kids so she and her husband can have a Valentines’ date.
And, perhaps even more simple yet more significant, I can give a hug.
I have my older two kids write on their calendar each evening at least one thing they are thankful for from the day. It’s a practice I myself started several years ago with my own calendar and find invaluable. I wanted to pass on the habit of cultivating thankfulness to my kids.
About a week ago I happened to be in my eleven-year-old son’s room and glanced at his calendar. I normally don’t make a habit of reading what he wrote. The thankful habit is for his own benefit. But, every once in a while, I happen to notice what my kids write. My son had written several things the last few days that I remembered such as going to a Chinese restaurant. But, then I saw he had written “Hug Mommy.” This surprised me.
For starters, you have to understand that my oldest child and I have a bit of a challenging relationship. That might be a slight understatement. Don’t get me wrong—we love each other. It’s just…we both are very strong willed…and that can make for many frustrating moments (both ways) between a parent and child.
So, what in the world was this hug he had thought was significant enough to merit writing on his calendar?
I do intentionally hug my kids first thing in the morning and right before they go to bed each day, but I knew that couldn’t be what he was referring too. Way too common and ordinary. I didn’t want to bring attention to what he had written and make him self-conscious about it, so I didn’t ask him for a reminder. I just marveled that I gave a hug that must have been very special to him.
However, after a couple days of reflection, I connected the dots on the hug. The date was my clue. I had actually messaged my long-distance friend right after that hug. Why? To thank her for her example. Prior to messaging her I had been in my son’s bedroom and had been incredibly frustrated with my son (did I mention we are like oil and water a lot of times?!). I had not known how to handle his meltdown in that moment. But I remembered my friend’s example with some of her intense parenting moments—she would hug her son. So, I had followed my friend’s example, asked my son if he wanted a hug (which wasn’t what I naturally felt like doing at the moment at all), and he had replied through his tears, “Yes.” So, there we sat on the edge of his bed in a long embrace. Him crying on my shoulder but slowly calming down. And, me not knowing what else to do but pray for wisdom and hug him back.
That hug, a hug based solely on a choice I made not at all on a feeling I felt, is what he had written about on his calendar. Wow. By God’s grace, in that meltdown moment, I had seen the path of wisdom and went down it. (If only I would always go down the path of wisdom when facing a child’s meltdown!)
Due to the nature of this story, I decided to go ahead and ask my son if I could share it on my blog. At first, he was taken aback that I had read his calendar (which is hanging right on the wall in his room for anyone to see), but he quickly admitted he reads my calendar (which is hanging right on the wall in my bathroom for anyone to see). He agreed I could share this personal story as long as I let you know that my other kids have meltdowns as well—not just him. I assured him I would let you know. Sooo…yeah, I have four kids that have meltdowns not just one.
Since I had brought attention to the “hug mommy,” he also confided that it had felt really good for me to hug him in that moment during the meltdown. He said sometimes he doesn’t want a hug during a meltdown because he is too angry. But, that time, it had just felt really good. Praise God, I hugged him!
I can’t do everything to solve all the world’s problems and bring peace on Earth. But, I can do something. And, so can you.