Yesterday, I returned a 10-year-old girl to her mother after my family hosted her for the weekend to give the mom a break. On my way home, I saw an older woman severely hunched over, walking very slowly, carrying a bag of groceries. She looked like she was in agony. I pulled over and offered her a ride home. She smiled and said no thanks. “However,” she said, “you can walk me to the bus stop” (which was only a half a block away). She handed me her bag of groceries and firmly grabbed my hand (probably making sure I wouldn’t run off with them!) I thought she needed me to take her all the way home, but she only wanted help getting to the “next stop.”
That is exactly what Safe Families is about. We’re not about fixing people. We’re about turning cliffs to slopes and helping people get to the next stop. We can all do that. I would love to have been able to say that I gave this woman a ride home. It’s more humbling to merely have taken her to the “next stop.” But it’s through small acts of kindness that we provide hope to others.
One year into the pandemic, about a 21% of U.S. adults are experiencing high levels of psychological distress, including nearly 28% saying the outbreak has changed their lives in “a major way.” Fear and isolation associated with the pandemic have been responsible for a surge of anxiety and depression over the past year.
I believe that part of our recovery and the recovery of our families involves doing something for someone else. The moms and dads we seek to help need our small acts of kindness. These “acts” also help strengthen us as we walk through our own challenges. Although I may have an increased level of anxiety and fear, I can stand up straight, carry a bag of groceries, hold a stranger’s hand, and walk them to the next stop.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. The good news is that we seem to be turning the corner and moving toward a greater sense of normalcy. Churches are meeting, schools are in session, restaurants are opening. It will take some time, but our mental health will improve, especially as we reconnect to others. Mayo Clinic states that, “Part of addressing our own stress and mental health concerns involves doing something for someone else.”
A couple suggestions:
- Make connections. Reach out to a mom or dad you have helped in the past and check in.
- Consider connecting with a parent as a “family friend” and providing encouragement to them.
- If you have taken a break from hosting, consider jumping back in. As my family has done that, I’ve noticed that we’re feeling a greater sense of strength and empowerment to make positive changes.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.