“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” – Desmond Tutu
“I can’t wait for you to come with me on my field trip tomorrow, mom,” said Paisley as I tucked her into bed. “Me, too!” I said. I really was excited about going. She was in Kindergarten, and because I was in school too, I missed a lot of the fun stuff that parents got to do with their kids. But, this time was different. My spring semester was already over, and it was the perfect opportunity for me to be able to go with Paisley and have some fun together.
The next morning was the most awesome field trip day. It was sunny and warm. I drove Paisley to school, and waited with the other moms for the teacher to try to get the kids in some kind of order when the field trip excitement is overwhelming. I followed the bus to the farm destination, and when we arrived, Paisley and I linked hands and off we went. We had the best time. We got to pet goats and other farm animals…good thing I brought my hand sanitizer. I really wish I liked animals a whole lot more than I really do. They are just stinky if you know what I mean.
When it was time for lunch, we all waited as the teachers gave us the instructions on where to sit, and where to throw our trash away. Paisley and I got our food, and sat down at one of the 2 extra big picnic tables assigned to our class. As everybody else got their food, I noticed that all the other moms and kids walked passed where we were sitting and chose to sit at the other table. When that table filled up, others came to our table, but sat at other side on the very end…too far away to have any kind of conversation. As I looked at the class, I saw some of the moms look my way and then look back at each other and talk. Are they talking about me? Is this all is my head? Nah, it was pretty obvious they were talking about us (insert eye rolling). It was sooo high school!
Paisley had no idea. She was just happy to be with me, and this was our special day. But, I felt judged and shunned. The shame just poured all over me. It was no secret that Paisley’s dad was in jail. She would talk to her friends about it at school. But, I guess those friends told their moms and they didn’t want to hang around. I mean, I kind of understood. It’s creepy. But, on the other hand, we are people. We have feelings.
It was about then that a mom came over and asked to sit with us. “Of course!” I said. I was so relieved. She introduced herself as Katie and said that her daughter and Paisley were friends. The girls were super excited to be sitting together and just chatted away. Katie leaned in closer to me, and said, “Don’t let it get to you. They can only hurt you as much as you let them. They don’t deserve that kind of power.” I didn’t know how to respond. She had been watching as the other moms chose to walk past me. She had watched me feel the weight of judgment…and she decided to do something about it. She reached out to me and gave me encouragement. Plus, it was good advice! She was right! Who the heck were these women? They didn’t walk my shoes. They don’t know our story, or even try to know us. They had already made up their minds about what kind of people we were. But, why was I allowing people that I didn’t even know hurt my feelings? Who cares what they think! Not me… anymore. Plus, they were really missing out. Paisley and I know how to have a good time. We are so fun…at least we think we are.
We ate our lunch, and went about the day not even thinking about those women anymore. I didn’t want to waste a single moment of my “mom-daughter” field trip thinking about ugliness. Although, it did make me feel better when a goat charged at one of them knocking her on her perfectly rounded worked-out bottom in her tennis skirt. Honestly, I was a little surprised that it didn’t bounce her right back up to standing position!
But, one thing I’ll never forget is the kindness that a stranger showed me that day. Her words of advice have stuck with me over the years. So many times, we have these urgings to say something to someone, but we talk ourselves out of it. We get embarrassed or we are afraid we will be offensive. There are a million different reasons we keep our mouths closed. But, those urgings could be from the Holy Spirit. It could be the thought that won’t go away, or the gentle pull to reach out to an old friend, or, in my case, encouragement to a stranger. Don’t pass those opportunities up. It can be life changing for someone else. It was for me.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14