I made a quick trip to the mall today. As I was standing in line at Old Navy, I noticed a young girl behind me talking to her son. I’m guessing he was around four and his mother was quietly urging him to behave. He started touching my purse and playfully punching his mom and the more he acted out, the more she pleaded with him to stop. I could tell by her posture that she was embarrassed and I couldn’t help but reach out to her. We spend so much time trying to conform to the way others think we should be. We get caught up in comparing ourselves to other parents and measuring our own kids against someone else’s. I smiled at her and explained how I remember those days shopping with small kids like it was yesterday. We exchanged stories and before long she was smiling back at me through grateful eyes. Life isn’t perfect and we aren’t perfect either. People need our empathy and not our criticism.People need our support, not our judgement. She decided to walk with me for a short time so we could continue talking. She needed someone to take her by the hand and say it’s going to be okay. Those words of encouragement made a tremendous difference in her day and as we finally parted ways, she turned and looked me in the eyes and said, thank you for being so understanding. I smiled back and told her to have a nice day.
There are days I feel her pain. Days I can’t help but ask myself, where have I gone wrong? Those are the times my heart really hurts and the more critical I am, the sadder I feel. We are hard enough on ourselves without friends, family and strangers chiming in to make us feel worse. Think of this story the next time you feel the urge to pass judgement. Offer support instead and notice the significant difference you make in somebody’s day. Be the difference you want to see in the world. Be kinder, be compassionate and always jump in to provide some support. One person can make a tremendous difference. What kind of difference are you willing to make?