“You will never forget a person who came to you with a torch in the dark.” ~M. Rose
You never know the impact you might have on someone at any given moment.
It may be entirely unknown to you.
While people often look “fine” on the surface and out in public, many aren’t.
In fact, there are some who spend most of their time sitting curled up in a ball, waiting for the darkness they feel to close in on them, to swallow them whole.
A simple look, smile, text, or “hello” in the grocery line could be the unknown light that keeps that darkness at bay; a lifeline that tethers these souls to the here and now, preventing them from floating toward the abyss.
For many of us, we have moments when we feel overwhelmed, underappreciated, and invisible, unseen and unheard in our hardest moments.
I have struggled with this myself. Weighed down from the heaviness of being a single parent, working several jobs and feeling like I was constantly falling short in every aspect of my life.
I’d have moments when I felt like a failure, unworthy of anything good or positive.
Dark and heavy feelings made me want to shut the curtains and hide away from the world in sorrow.
In each of these dark episodes of time, when I was filled with self-doubt and insecurity, someone would randomly reach out and share a sweet thought.
They would come completely out of left field, sometimes from people I knew and sometimes from strangers.
It would be something as simple as “Those are pretty earrings, they look nice on you,” shared by a stranger passing by or “I spoke with your daughters last night. They are such great kids. You’re doing a good job,” passed along by a friend.
Sometimes it would be something as simple as a note from one of my kids—“Love you, Mom”—that could turn it all around.
It was as though the kind words would encircle me, fill me with warmth, and then subtly go to those curtains and open them a little, gently, to let some light back into the room.
Conversely, feeling the random urge to reach out to someone and pay them a compliment, that’s something I know holds power too.
I shared a memory with a friend once, about a teacher who had spoken some encouraging words to me when I was in middle school. Her words motivated me to not give in to my shyness, but rather look for coping tools that would help me be a better public speaker.
I ran into that teacher a few weeks after my friend and I had that conversation, at a local bookstore. When I saw her, I felt moved to share with her the story I had told my friend, so I made it a point to go over to her. I told her what a positive impact she’d had on my life, and that I ended up with a career in public speaking because of her encouragement, all those years before.
I found out later, when her daughter sought me out online after the woman had passed, that her mom had been feeling blue, battling depression and cancer, and felt like she hadn’t made much of an impact in this world when we crossed paths and I shared my story with her. I had no idea this woman had been struggling, as we hadn’t seen each other in years… since school, actually.
Her daughter said that when they visited each other the evening of our chance encounter, her mom was all aglow with excitement and a renewed sense of optimism and fulfillment. She called my simple words “a gift” to her mom, and ultimately, with the happiness they brought her mom, to herself, as well.
Those are the little moments of light you share.
If you feel the instinct to call, or send a note, to smile, even just to say a kind word, perhaps there’s a greater reason for it. You might just be the vehicle by which an important dose of hope or happy is delivered, right in the nick of time.
Do it. You will never regret speaking a kindness out loud to someone.
Follow through on that urge.
Don’t let self-consciousness or professionalism hold you back.
Genuine kindness, when delivered, will never go to waste. In fact, it will usually multiply, like a ray of light that hits a mirror and scatters every which way; sharing a kind thought and lifting someone up is a powerful tool for turning their day around.
When you feel the urge to say something kind or reach out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, there could be more to it than you know.
You may just be that little bit of light that keeps someone else from staying too long in the dark.