“How has your day been today?” asks a smiling girl at the beginning of my last class of the day. Her jeans are too small and have holes. I have a feeling that things are rough at home for her. I suspect that she may not always get dinner and a shower. Yet, she genuinely wants to know how I am doing. She continues to smile waiting for my response. “My day has been wonderful,” I say. “I got a lot of grading done while you guys were at your related arts classes. Thank you for asking.” After responding, I realized that an 8th grade girl just taught me a very valuable lesson.
Her simple question has reminded me that too often I am so caught up in my own struggles that I forget that there are other people on this planet. I am given many opportunities during the day to ask others about how they are doing and to inquire about their lives. How often do I get caught up in my own concerns instead? A lot.
The other thing that stood out to me about this student was her genuineness. She really wanted to know how I was doing – quite mature for an 8th grader! Not only should we show concern for others, we need to do so with genuine compassion. Often when I do ask someone how they are doing, I just expect them to say “I’m fine.” It is almost uncomfortable on that rare occasion that someone gives me detailed insight into their life. Instead of my usual mindset, I should ask how someone is doing, and then genuinely continue to inquire about how I can pray for them.
Over the course of the last four months, I have had numerous people ask me about how I am doing. At first these questions were very difficult for me. I wanted to say “How do you think I am doing? Life sucks because my daughter died!” Over time though, I have realized that these questions were really people reaching out because they simply did not know how to support someone who has lost a child. Now that I think about it, five months ago, I wouldn’t have had a clue what to say or do for someone who lost a child. I have grown to very much appreciate these questions now, because I can sense their sincerity. Knowing that others still think about our family regularly and are praying for us has been a tremendous source of strength. Since the grieving process can often be a difficult one, it is not one that should be traveled alone. I am thankful that I haven’t had to do that.
The student who inquired about my day inadvertently reminded me how important it is to genuinely support each other. This is reaffirmed in scripture. From the very beginning, God decided that it was not good for man to be alone. This is why Eve was created. We need each other to battle the challenges that life so often throws at us.
I challenge you to imagine what our world would look like if we all chose to genuinely reach out to others on a daily basis. In the words of Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”