Written by Sue Harrison

This post is in honor of my mother, who is one of the kindest, most caring people I have ever known. Her health is precarious, and so I come to this Mother’s Day with the realization that it may be the last one I share with her here on earth. What a privilege is mine to be her daughter.

A few years before the chicken pox vaccination was available, that miserable disease visited our little community. In those days,  I played the piano at our church for the primary Sunday School classes. Of our usual 20 to 25 children, we had only 4 in attendance that first Sunday after the outbreak, including five-year-old Darin, whose family owned a poultry farm just outside of town. He  walked into the singing room, looked around at the empty seats,  and said,  “Where is everybody?”

I explained that most of the children had chicken pox and were home sick.

“Chicken pox!” Darin exclaimed. “Oh no, I’m sure to get them. I’m in the coops all the time.”

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Although we might smile at Darin’s ideas about the epidemiology of chicken pox, you have to admit that he was actually wiser in one regard than many adults. Darin understood that where, and with whom, we spend our time can have a big impact on our lives.

Now I’m not one of those Christians who advocates that, if we are true to our faith, we should have nothing whatsoever to do with anyone who is not a Christian. In my opinion that’s a prideful and self-righteous way to live. I’m talking about the more practical day-to-day aspects of our lives.

Is your self-esteem low? Take a look at the people you spend time with. Do they habitually put you down?

Have you acquired a new habit lately, one you’d like to shed? For example, whining or arguing. It’s easy to fall into those habits if that’s what you hear every day.

So, what’s my wise advice? Quit our jobs? Break off friendships? Shun ornery family members?

Nope, nothing that easy.

If someone puts you down, stand up for yourself, not by returning the put-down, but by giving that person a compliment. A person who constantly criticizes others has low self-esteem. A compliment increases self-worth. When someone begins to whine about his or her life, offer a hug or a pat on the shoulder and then change the subject. The person who whines is very sad about something. I know. I’ve been a whiner. The touch of a hand lifts the spirit. And that one who always tries to start one of those petty arguments? Sometimes the best reply is simply, “Do you know that I love you? Even if we do disagree.” Then smile.

We might not be able to choose the people who impact our lives, but we do have the option of lifting their spirits with our kind words, with our care, and with our concern. Kindness won’t solve all the problems of the world, but a kind word sheds a bit of light into dark days, and I believe with all my heart that that is one of the reasons God has put us here on this earth.

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is in the Old Testament book of Proverbs, chapter 31. The last half of this chapter describes a virtuous woman. Verse 26 says,

“She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”

I love this King James version, which places kindness right inside our tongues. So on this Mother’s Day, I pray that the Lord will richly bless you as you bless others through your kind and caring words.

(Photograph, Wikipedia Commons)

Sue Harrison

BIO: Novelist Sue Harrison is best known for her Alaska trilogies. Her novels, national and international bestsellers, have been published in more than 20 countries in 13 different languages. Her novel Mother Earth Father Sky was named by the American Library Association as a Best Books for Young Adults. Sue lives with her husband in Michigan, but has family here in Nebraska and love Nebraska's rich history. She is currently writing romantic suspense for the inspirational market. Catch up with Sue on her website and blog – www.sueharrison.com .