Hmm. There must be a more eloquent way to say that. Really, though, that's the general concept I wish to convey.
Yesterday I was rushing around in the grocery, feeling a little harried and worn out from a busy weekend out of town, three hours in the car, lots of laundry and unpacking waiting for me, and nearly empty cupboards. So of course, I ran into about four different people I knew. Two of them were awkward, let's-avoid-eye-contact type of encounters (one girl was the sister of a guy I broke up with in high school, another was the girl who dated an ex of mine immediately after me.) The third was the mom of a friend of mine, so I thought at least THERE I might get a friendly exchange. I stopped to greet her pleasantly, but she didn't crack a smile, appearing tense and hurried. She threw a curt, "Hi there" over her shoulder and returned to perusing the cuts of beef.
I must have been feeling particularly sensitive or something, but I was getting really bothered by all the avoidance and bare-bones civility. I was pondering this, glumly loading my cart with macaroni and applesauce, when I heard a cheerful voice call out, "It IS you!" Behind me was an old friend of Jim's, his wife and their two boys. These are people we only see a few times a year at weddings and reunions, but they were SO friendly, and strolled down the aisle with me, catching up on summer plans, for about ten minutes.
I felt so much better after talking to them. Now, I know sometimes you truly are pressed for time and can't spare the few minutes to stop and have a conversation. But if you can, it sure beats waving across the store. Or NOT even waving.
When I got home, I checked the mailbox, and of course there was a teetering pile of insurance statements and medical bills. (Who knew blood draws could add up to over two hundred dollars? AFTER insurance?) I sat in the front seat of the van sifting through them, feeling my energy drain again as various large "amounts owed" started hovering weightily in my head. Then I got to a Hallmark envelope addressed to me. Is it my birthday already? Some thank you note for something I totally forgot about doing?
But no, it was just a handwritten note from an older woman at our church, telling me how nice the baby shower that I hosted recently was and that she knew throwing parties can be stressful as well as fun (I did have HELP, so I felt a little unworthy of the praise, but it was still bolstering.) She even added, "I couldn't help noticing that you've kept your girlish figure. Looking good!"
Say what you will about church ladies (and I have, believe me) but that last comment made me burst into tears momentarily. Maybe it was a bit of an overreaction, but hey, I was feeling pretty low. And then, here was this sweet woman, entirely without solicitation, not only complimenting my cheesecake but complimenting my waistline as well!
I will definitely be letting her know how much her note meant to me, but I will also try to keep my eyes open for someone to whom I can pass the favor along. And hey, the next time you have a fleeting nice thought about someone, be it their brownies or their newly toned arms or whatever, let me just suggest voicing that thought to them. Sometimes we think, "Oh, she knows she looks good!" or "Everyone's always complimenting her food; she doesn't need to hear it again."
But maybe she really, really does.