Every once in a while, someone will do a small kindness that becomes a gift of a lifetime.
There are two moments I have with my Mom, that for whatever reason shine in my memory like living diamonds. These moments have an aliveness, light and vitality about them that overshadows most of the rest of my earlier childhood memories.
The first one happened when I was around 11 years old. My Mom called me into her room and showed me a crumpled piece of paper she had found in our trash can.
She asked me about it.
I recognized it. It was a paper I had written on earlier that week. I had heard about this idea of doing a pros and cons list to sort out the value of something. So, I did a pros/con list on myself. I listed item after item of everything that was wrong with me.
Freckles, red hair, broken front tooth. Fat lips. Bug eyes. Ugly. That list went down one full side of the page and half way down the back side. I had no problem at the time finding things wrong with me.
But when it came time to find something positive about myself, to write something under the pro column, I couldn’t think of anything. Nothing. Nada. My mind went blank.
Eventually, I gave up trying. I crumpled the paper into a tight ball, and threw it away.
I looked at that wrinkled paper in my Mom’s hand and all the pain of that experience came rushing back up into my throat. My stomach heaved inside of me, as if I had just been kicked in the stomach.
My Mom then spoke to me in a calm, gentle, reassuring voice.
She told me that I was the most virtuous person she knew. I wasn’t certain I understood what she meant.
She talked to me about the difference between spiritual beauty and physical beauty. She talked to me about the soul and the development of the soul. And about the value of being Christ-like.
She pulled out her Bible and started reading to me, from Galatians. Reading the list of the fruits of the Spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
She then explained to me that these were all considered virtues. Then she spoke with such a deep presence and heart-felt emotion that what she said carried enough weight to completely counterbalance my list of cons on that crumpled paper.
“You are the most virtuous person, I know.”
She said it with such certainty that I believed her, … because she believed it.
From that moment own
I started defining myself by the virtues she had read to me. They became the measuring standard of how I determined my identity. Even now, when I become discouraged or doubt myself, the memory and power of that moment carries me through.
As a child I took to heart the Golden Rule. I can remember making that decision when I was 5 years.
At 11, standing at the bedside of my Mom, I took to heart, virtuous living. And it has made all the difference in my world.
Someone recently told me I had the gift of tongues. I’ve thought about this. I know what that means to most people in terms of people talking in tongues. But, it didn’t feel like this is what was meant.
Then another person shared this video and it showed up in my Facebook newsfeed. With this written in the caption below:
I looked at that for a moment and then thought to myself, we all have the gift of tongues.
In any given moment we can speak life into others lives… and our own.