Updated: Apr 19, 2021
By H Mark Taylor
Today, find at least one person and be intentionally kind in your words, your actions, or both. Make a habit of doing this every day, and your life will change. You will have rewards beyond imagination.
Think of a time when your life was spinning out of control. Do you know it?
For me, it was December 24th of the year 2000. My 6-year-old daughter and I had stepped into a new century, and I had stepped into a new life as a single parent. I was not sure that I was up to the task. There were too many projects, overwhelming responsibilities at home and work, and it seemed impossible to wrap my mind and arms around it all.
As I pulled my car onto our snow-packed driveway, the tires slid on the icy sheet. Peering over my shoulder, I see my daughter is asleep in her car seat. Clambering out, I slide a bit on the frozen surface and catch my balance. Opening the back door, I grab her sleeping form, hoist her up, and shut the door with my knee. Standing, I bounce her up a bit in my arms to get her in a better position. As I take a step, my feet begin to slide out from under me.
Within a fraction of a second, two choices come to my mind in quick succession. Let go of my daughter and catch myself, or hold on to her and take the fall.
It was a defining moment for me and representative where I found myself in life. The last ten years had not gone well. The past two were particularly hard. I found myself in an out-of-control situation that felt like freefall - and I wondered if I could survive the inevitable impact.
What comes to your mind when you think about a time in your life when you experienced a difficult season? Haven’t we all been there in one way or another? What do you do when you are in a strange, unwanted situation and you feel circumstance has left your life and heart shattered? If you have been in that situation and are reading this, you know a bit about survival. If you find yourself in that situation now, don’t lose hope. You never know when the light of dawn is just around the corner.
As I began to cope with my responsibilities, I knew it was time to either live or die a slow death. I remember a news article about a guy who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. He felt like no one cared about him any longer and just wanted to end it all – until he was airborne. As soon as he cleared the rail, he realized he wanted to live, but it was too late to do anything but pray. It can be an excellent place to start.
There are times when it is better not to go it alone. For me, this was one of those times. Hillary Clinton once said, “It takes a village to raise a child,” and I began to notice the truth of that statement. I made a decision to reach out to people around me and let them into my life to help, and, amazingly, they did. Up until this point, I was fond of thinking I could do everything by myself. But as I hit the limits of what I could do, I found that people around me were more than willing to help fill in the gaps. It was a defining change of perspective for me. It changed the way I thought about life and people.
Before that time, it was all about me; my life, my agenda, my ideas. It was my way or the highway. As a result of my shift in perspective and other people investing in me, I began to pay it forward and invest in others. As I did this, I found rewards beyond anything I could imagine. It was like climbing a steep mountain, and the person above would reach down and help me to the next level. Then I would reach down and help boost someone higher.
In life, we often only see what is within our view. I thank God for people who help us turn just a little to the right or the left and shift our perspective so that we have the opportunity to see something new and wonderful.
I started by telling you about the day I found love. Up to that day, I wasn’t sure I cared about anyone except my own self. But that evening, I found myself standing on thin ice with my 6-year-old daughter asleep in my arms. As my feet slid forward, I began to fall straight back. It happened so fast I only had time to decide if I would let go of her to catch myself or just ride it down. I think you know the answer.
I held on tight, closed my eyes, and fell back into the arms of God. I hit the icy concrete flat on my back and head so hard that I literally saw lightning and stars. An electric shock jarred every part of my body. For a minute, I just lay there wondering if I could even move. And my daughter? She never even woke up. As the swirling snowflakes drifted around us, I could feel the slow rhythm of her breathing as her head rested against my shoulder. I looked up at the heavens and, for the first time, realized that I loved someone else more than myself. In a split second, I had made a decision to protect her at the cost of my safety.
Love is not something we only feel; it is something we do. Our love is realized in our actions. We will never be whole until we begin to love the people around us; the stranger, as well as those close to our hearts. To receive, we must learn to give. To live, we must learn to love.
My encouragement to you is this: Today, find at least one person and be intentionally kind in your words, in your actions, or both. Make a habit of doing this every day, and your life will change. You will have rewards beyond your greatest imagination.
I’m H Mark Taylor, and that was the day I found love.
Being Alone - You are only as alone as you want to be. If you feel alone, try something different; Reach out to someone. Build a relationship and trust before risking too much information. We are often in a hurry, but relationships and trust grow over time. When you feel overwhelmed, rushed, nervous... breathe slow and intentional. Take time to meditate and pray.
Love and Hope - are not only something we feel, both require active practice and action to be fully realized. When you feel hopeless, unloved, or both, reach out and encourage someone. When you focus outside of self, it can help elevate the moodiness. Say words of encouragement to your family or a friend. You can also do this with someone you don't know but use wisdom and don't get carried away because some people will not appreciate, or even feel threatened, by your approach. At the checkout lane, watch and find a person who is seems in need of a kind word: "I really appreciate your customer service and attitude." At a restaurant, leave a huge tip and a note of encouragement to the staff. Smile at people (but don't go overboard and get yourself into trouble, hey)? There are boundaries. As we reach out in love towards others, love often finds us!
Life vs. Death - Concentrate on living, not dying. If your thoughts are focused on death and dying, seek professional help. If you don't know where to turn, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline @ 800-273-8255.
Crisis Decisions - When you feel overwhelmed, it is not a good time to make a decision. Give yourself permission to take time to seek out wise counsel. Like the young man on the Golden Gate Bridge, once you leap, it may be too late to reverse course. Begin to build a support network of people who care about you. If you can't find someone who cares about you, then find a support group in your area and start there. https://www.mhanational.org/find-support-groups