Don’t just Pay It Forward, but Press Forward in Kindness

two hands holding a single white rose

World Kindness Day is Saturday, November 13. This day is set aside to promote kindness in the world and in individual relationships. 

I walked into the waiting room, 8 months pregnant, with a 2.5 year old and a 4 year old. It was an afternoon appointment directly in the middle of nap time and I just hoped it would be a fast in and out. 

There were two older ladies in the waiting room of my OBGYN’s office, so we picked a few seats on the end and back row. My son played on the ipad and my daughter, who had brought in her baby doll, sat next to me and set her baby in the chair beside her. She then proceeded to play with her doll, standing in front of the chair and pretending to slide her doll down the arm. She was being quiet and cute and I took the moment to lay my head back and rest. My third pregnancy with two littles was exhausting and I was ready for the little baby girl inside to be born so she would stop kicking my bladder and decrease the pressure on my sciatica. 

My little girl had moved down a few seats, now pretending to read from a magazine with her doll when I noticed the woman who was sitting in front of us move over a few chairs. I didn’t think anything of it and smiled over at my tiny, fun loving girlie. She was holding her doll like a baby, and pretended to cough and said, “Oh mommy, baby is sickie.” She stood up and began patting the dolls back, moving closer to the lady. At this point, the woman got up in a huff and moved clear across to the other side of the room, then turned to me and said, “It’s not that I think your child is annoying, I just can’t be around sick children.” 

I was aghast. Shocked. Hurt.  

Yeah, I had never met this woman in my life, but my child had done nothing wrong, she was sweet and quiet and just being an innocent child. 

Yeah, I had never met this woman in my life, so how could she have known that I was an exhausted mommy, trying to survive the last few months of my pregnancy.

Yeah, I had never met this woman in my life, so she had no idea of the postpartum depression that engulfed my soul after this darling, doll playing girlie was born. She had no idea how much faith and trust it took to get pregnant again, desperately fighting the fear of walking through the darkness once more. 

Yeah, she had no idea how much her unkindness stung. 

I said nothing to her because all of my effort went into keeping the tears brimming in my eyes from falling. I pulled my sweet girl into my lap, kissed her head, and took in her sweet scent as she awkwardly rested against my protruding belly.

The other woman in the waiting room witnessed the entire situation. When the dreadful woman was called in, the other woman turned toward me and said, “Your children are beautiful and so well behaved.” She proceeded to be so kind and encouraging. 

Kindness is like a sweet balm to the soul. 
An act of kindness can literally breathe new breath into your lungs. 
A word of kindness can soothe a troubled heart. 

people holding hands showing kindnessFrom a Cancel Culture to a Kindness Culture

As a mother, there is nothing that bring more joy to my heart than when others are kind to my kids. I will always be grateful for the kindness of teachers and coaches who speak encouragement into my children’s lives. I will always be grateful for the child who shows kindness to my kid on that first day of a new school. I will always be grateful for the mother who includes my out-of-the-box child.

We live in a world where sometimes the cup of kindness seems empty and dry. We don’t have to look past our screens to see that many have chosen cruel confrontation, criticism and confusion at the seat of their computer versus kindness. More and more we hear of anger that is stirred up on the roads, bullying that breaks the heart and pure selfishness that over shines everything else. Where are the kindred spirits full of generosity and simple thoughtfulness? 

In order for my children to be products of kindness, I must first produce kindness. Everyday I must clothe myself with kindness, knowing that though my children are growing up in a “Karen” filled, cancel culture, they are also daily witnesses to how I treat people, how I respond to strangers and how I act in difficult situations. I pray they see a momma who is not perfect, but who tries desperately to default to kindness first. 

Be a Compass for Kindness

Let Kindness be our true north in our day to day lives. We must seek out kindness by giving it away; be it with a smile or a small act. We must show others the way to kindness.

Kindness is always shown to me by people who have intentionally seen me. The kind woman in the waiting room saw my hurt and moved towards me with compassion and encouragement. In order to be kind, we must see others, see their hurts, their struggles, and day to day lives and move toward them. In a world where we are constantly looking down at our phones or just moving quickly from one way to the next, we have to make an effort to point our compass toward others, look into their eyes and move toward kindness,  

Be a Receiver of Kindness

Here’s the deal, we may be relatively good at giving away kindness, but most of us are not great at receiving it. Recently I saw a poll on Facebook that asked, “If you were at a restaurant and you baby was crying uncontrollably and a woman and stranger sitting at the table next to you offered to try and soothe and hold the baby so you could eat or get a break, would you allow the stranger to hold your baby?”

The majority of those who answered said no. 

Now granted, as a first time mom I probably would have said no too. But now, as a mom who has walked through many seasons, a mom who has walked through postpartum depression twice, a mom who has dragged crying children out of stores, who couldn’t find the pacifier to save her life and opened a package in the middle of Target; for a mom who lived through so many days tired, lonely, desperate for someone to see me in my mess of babies and be kind to me and mine…Today I would say, “Yes! Please hold my baby! Thank you!” 

I wish I would have received other peoples kindness more. I wish I would have embraced their compliments, accepted their generosity, let their smiles, looks of compassion and solidarity breathed life into my heart. 

I wish I would have offered kindness more. 

Mamas, let us create a culture of kindness by teaching our children to navigate this world by pointing their compass toward kindness.

There will always be unkind ones in the waiting rooms.

Let us be the other kind; the kind that see others and move toward them.

Let’s be the kind that doesn’t just pay it forward, but presses forward in kindness, today and always.  


 

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Andrea is a true Houston native! Other than her college years at Baylor and a few summers with family in Guatemala, she has lived around the Houston area forever and cannot imagine living anywhere else. Especially because of family nearby as built in babysitters, so many friendships built throughout the years, and the great people of this city, Houston is so dear to her heart. In junior high her family moved to the Sugar Land area, but she attended a high school in town and spent as much time as possible at the Galleria in the 90s! After graduating from Baylor University with a degree in Secondary Education, she married her high school sweetheart, Orlando, and they moved to the Richmond area where they have been ever since and where she homeschools their son and 2 daughters, ages 15, 12 & 9. Andrea is very active in Women’s ministry at her church and in her community. She began writing for more therapeutic reasons when the kids were small and soon began writing publicly, remembering her love for writing and realizing the gift and calling that it was in her life. She published her first book, Breathless: Prayers from a Mother Learning to Exhale in 2018, a devotional last year and is currently working on a few new projects. In her down time, Andrea loves alone time, especially because she’s an enneagram 4! She also loves coffee, hanging out with her family and friends, traveling, New York City, musicals, especially Hamilton, fair trade jewelry, and charcuterie boards! You can find her writing at www.andreaportilla.com or follow her on Instagram @dreaportilla and on Facebook.

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