I knew the carnival had come to town even before I saw the rides. Friends on Facebook announced it by posting comments about the influx of ex-cons and drug addicts with no teeth and filthy clothing. I didn’t think too much about the comments and even laughed at a few.
When I took my kids to the carnival on opening night, I struck up a conversation with a woman carnie who wasn’t busy at the time. She shared how she was a mom of three kids, one of which she delivered just four months earlier.
When asking if her kids were with her, she about burst into tears as she explained they were at home and she wouldn’t get to see them until carnival season ended 4 months later. She didn’t feel the road was a good and stable place to raise kids so she left them with her parents during the busy carnival season.
While looking for a job, she had been rejected by corporations, gas stations, retail stores, restaurants, and on and on. She was getting desperate as she worried how she would care for her children. She then met some carnies who showed her love and acceptance and offered her a job.
She now found she was rejected by society as a whole because of the job she held.
As she opened her heart, shame filled my own. The pain on her face was evident. And I had added to her misery by participating (even silently) in the social media fodder and buying into the stereotype.
The fun we sometimes have at others expense is often greater than the concern for their heart. Those “funny” comments hurt real people with genuine feelings.
Everyone has a story. Everyone has needs. Everyone needs love.
This woman was working hard to give her kids the best life possible on the limited means she had. I felt for her as I watched her love on the other carnies’ kids who were traveling with the group, while missing her own so much.
I could relate to her because I had been rejected in different areas of my own life.
I’m sure you’ve also felt the sting of rejection. When made to feel unwanted, unworthy, or unacceptable for one reason or another, it’s miserable.
So let’s no longer take part as others “tear down.” Let’s counter that by “building up.”
There are 2 simple ways to “build others up.”
First, we need to see everyone as God’s masterpiece.
People of all ages, races, social classes, well-educated, non-educated, agreeable, disagreeable, from all walks of life, each are made in God’s image. Each has value and worth.
Second, we need to do something.
In Australia, there is a rocky cliff called, The Gap, that is a notorious suicide spot. For nearly 50 years, Don Ritchie, who lived across the street, scanned the cliff each day. If he saw anyone standing alone and too close to the edge, he hurried to their side. He would give them a warm smile and ask if they would like to come in for a cup of tea. He never counseled, advised, or pried. He just offered a smile and an invitation.
Don is officially credited with saving 160 people but unofficially the number is closer to 600. Many of the survivors said it was Don’s smile that made them want to live.
Don says, “Never be afraid to speak to those you feel are in need. Always remember the power of the simple smile, a helping hand, a listening ear, and a kind word. It’s pretty simple.”
What if we are the catalyst that helps someone feel accepted, loved, or cared for all because we were willing to engage them in conversation, offer a listening ear, or give a simple smile?
At the very least we will bring a boost to their day. But we may just save a life in the process.
Who will you see, accept, value, and love today?
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©2013 Connie Davis Johnson