Today I was going to take the kids to the park, but instead we went to an old folks home that’s 5 minutes from us.
Before we left, I told the kids that there are some older people who get very lonely and are all by themselves most of the day, and we could cheer them up and spend time with them. They wanted to go.
I read them the verse of the day in the car before we left,
“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1pet.5.6
I asked them what it meant to humble themselves, they weren’t sure. I told them we would be talking to people who couldn’t walk, and maybe who couldn’t hear them, and maybe their skin would look different, but to know that they are just as special to God as anyone else, and that it’s our job to show it. And that even if we were scared, to be brave and kind anyways.
We walked up to the lady at the front desk and asked if we could talk to the people. She was confused, “Wait–do you have family here?”
“No…we just wanted to hang out.”
“Oh, sure, go ahead.”
The first man we saw had sparkling blue eyes and was eager when he saw us approaching. “Can we sit here?” I asked him, Poppy strapped to my back.
“Oh, please do,” he smiled earnestly. I asked each of the kids to ask him a question. Elijah was the bravest one, he saw no difference in anyone living here than anywhere else. He slipped his two hands into Glen’s hands and said, “Do you like dogs?”
“Oh!” he said, he kind smile growing bigger. “Why yes, I like dogs.”
Maria and Finley were nervous but Finley pulled out a piece of paper from a small black box he brought. “Do you want to see this? It’s a seaweed press, like art….” Finley handed it to him, “You can have it…” he said with a serious face and a little distance.
“Oh, why thank you!” Glen was delighted, kindness in the edges of his eyes framed by his smile.
Maria wasn’t sure what to say, “Honey, it’s ok to not know, they just want to hear you speak,” so she told him about our day at the beach and he smiled the entire time. While she told the story, and saw how interested he was, she became more animated, adding more details.
After that, they were all a bit braver, well, not Elijah, he was the same amount of brave–he marched up and down the halls like he owned the place, gave hugs away like it was his job, found a snack stand and pressed his face up against the plastic wrapped donuts and smelled, “I neeeeeeeeed theses!!!!!” Before laughing and running back to us.
Each person we met would see us, and not respond, but then when they saw that we were still looking at them, approaching them, and saw Elijah’s little hand reaching for them, their heads, framed in soft white hair would lift, their eyes reflecting the smiles on the children, and a feeling of, “Me?”
“Hi…” they would be eager, happy, “My name is Francis….”
Elijah responded, “Hi Franciiiiiiis!”
Virginia had four children. The older two died, “I’m so sorry,” I told her.
“Oh, it’s life…” she told me.
She told the children how beautiful they are. Finley kept his hands back when she extended hers, and Elijah filled them with both of his. Then Finley did, too. “I’m trying to be kindness,” Finley told me.
Maria whispered to me, “I can’t believe this is free!”
We had walked down the hallways and we could see in all their rooms, “Oh my gosh! Look at their rooms, they are so cute!” she commented.
As we said goodbye, Virginia said, “Come back! Come back when you can,” and the others waved to us. We weren’t there very long, maybe an hour.
As we walked out, Maria and Elijah were skipping, they were high on life, on connection and the mutual kindness shown by all. Finley said, “I did not like that.”
Maria and I laughed, “At least he’s honest,” I said to her. “That’s ok, Finley. It’s ok to be nervous, it was all brand new to you. But you know what? The thing I am most proud of you for is that even though you were nervous, you still talked to everyone, still gave hugs. That’s true courage. That is true kindness and humility.”
He thought about that for a while, “Yeah, I was brave. And kindness.”
“Did you like going, Elijah?”
“YEEEEAAAAAH!! We go back, after nap??” he asked, he was bursting with joy.
Maria wants to go back with coloring books to color and give out as gifts. “We should wrap them first,” Finley said.
Andrew met us when we got home, “How was it guys?”
“Daddy, did you know, if you humble yourself, God will….God will….” and he raised his hand up, “Lift you up!”
The kids filled daddy in on all the details and their new friends. We let them have a special treat for doing such a great job!
Thank you for the inspiration, You and Me Forever.
Everyone was more peaceful and happy going down for their naps, just goes to show, even kids do better when they aren’t just living for themselves.