We’re finally home! As we face the ongoing task of organizing what we have left and replacing what was lost, only my closest friends know just how difficult this 3-month displacement was for me on a deeply personal level. As I think about these things, I’m often overwhelmed with joy as I remember the many who came alongside us in so many wonderful ways.
My life motto is “Kindness is a Superpower” and this experience of losing access to home due to fire opened up an opportunity for many who joyfully welcomed the chance to be a blessing to me and my family. The big news is that for the first time in my life, blindsided by this fire that damaged every square inch of our home, my heart and spirit were tired enough to accept.
I spent a portion of my childhood homeless. We slept in the car, in shelters, public restrooms, and once in a woman’s dirty, gasoline smelling garage for an extended period of time. When you’re a little girl, surrounded by garbage and hungry it affects you in ways that you’d never expect. That initial experience of homelessness in my formative years influenced every choice I made an adult. And I worked hard to keep my 1st childhood vow: ‘When I grow up, I will never be homeless again & I will always be able to go home.’ Nope – Life always has its say.
On the other side of that coin, is the fact that I became extremely determined and self-reliant. Not long after that terrible chapter in my life, we moved to Germany and during a middle school trip to one of the largest death camps, I made another vow: ‘I will be a part of the good in this world, no matter what.’
All of this came to mind as I sat in my newly restored living room last week, praying with a thankful heart for all the ongoing love and kindness we’ve received over the past quarter of 2019. That day, I discovered a wonderful new series on Netflix called “The Kindness Diaries.” It chronicles the adventures of Leon Logothetis, who embarks on a quest to prove that there is genuine goodness and kindness in the world, you just have to choose to take notice of it.
In episode 1, Leon meets Willy and Cheryl who gave him shelter, food and invited him to join them on a visit to a neighbor celebrating her 96th birthday, so she wouldn’t have to spend it alone. Inspired by their faith - they served, shared and loved despite their personal struggles. Leon said that their example proved to him that ‘Human beings can literally manufacture hope through acts, even the simplest acts of kindness.’ Later in episode 11, he visits the ‘Killing Fields,’ of Choung Ek in Cambodia and the largest death camp. Just as I did in the 7th grade, he left “shaken to the core” and more determined than ever to find kindness and love, and ‘the light within us that will always triumph over the darkness.’
As a little girl living in chaos and poverty, I somehow figured out something miraculous: There really is more goodness in this world than evil, selfishness, poverty and suffering. The secret to experiencing this kind of joyful reality is in learning how to look for and find the good in every circumstance, every day, no matter how small, with a thankful heart. And choosing every day to do our part to shine the light that we’ve been entrusted with.
The love I’ve experienced in the last 3 months has amplified my desire to carry out that 2nd childhood vow. But it’s different now, I have new wisdom and strength fueled by the joy of knowing that my prideful seeds of self-deception about my ability to take care of myself were uprooted by kindness.
Though I could never thank you enough…I’m a writer, and so I wrote this blog as my way of saying, Thank you!
To everyone who prayed, gave money, visited us in the hotel, offered us space in your homes, brought us clothing and food, hosted us in your home, kept me company at 2AM when I couldn’t stop crying, and to everyone who called, texted, and messaged several times a week, just to see if we needed anything.
Thank you, with all my heart. Because of your acts of loving kindness, with each passing day - I felt less of the effects of the fire, and more of the love of God.
Yes, life will have its say, but God has the final word. And I will always be thankful!
“Be Brave. Be Present. Be Wise. Be Faithful. Be Kind to Yourself & Others, and Be Blessed.” ©