Blessed to Be a Blessing
Joann Condit of Phoenix, AZ, USA
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” -Luke 4:18-19
Thelma joined our class in the middle of my senior year. She sank into her assigned seat trying to fold herself into invisibility. She was older, tall and thin. No one smiled or spoke to her.
I went home for lunch and burst inside to tell my mother about this addition to our class, laughing as I described her. Mother spoke not a single word until I began to eat, and then she said, “Joann, I am so ashamed of you.” Mom was a firm disciplinarian, but she rarely used negative terms. I knew she meant what she said, and why. I had not been reared to be unkind. Mother continued, “Joann, when you return to school today, you welcome this girl. You find something about her that is beautiful. You tell her. Do you understand me? And remember, I will know if you are lying to me.”
I trudged into study hall just before Thelma crept in, her face blotched, and sat down at her desk. I knew I’d lose my courage if I waited, so I sat down next to her and said hello. I asked her where she was from, and she told me she was living with her grandmother now. Conversation was stilted, so I looked carefully at her, my eyes lighting on her hands, long hands with slender fingers, her nails short and cared for. I took a deep breath and said, “Oh, Thelma, you do have such beautiful hands.” She smiled hesitantly, and I returned to my desk.
I made a point of speaking to her each day, as did others. She never became a close friend of anyone, but she was no longer an outsider. She did her work well, and when the school year ended, she disappeared. I never saw her again.
One summer vacation, I saw Thelma’s grandmother, and I asked about her. She had joined the Air Force and was now a commissioned officer. I was astonished when she said, “Joann, I have wanted to thank you for years for what you did for Thelma.” I had no idea what she meant.
“Thelma,” she said, “was always tall and thin, and she had a difficult home life. She was socially awkward, and school was difficult because her classmates were unkind. She wanted so badly to join the Air Force, but she had to have a high school diploma. She gave up and quit halfway through her senior year, but the dream did not go away. When she was 19, she came to stay with me to finish school. She came home for lunch that first day weeping and said she could never go back, that nothing had changed. I talked her into returning in the afternoon, promising that if she couldn’t stand it after that, she could quit. You told her she had pretty hands. She does have pretty hands. Her tall body wears her uniform with distinction. She is making the military her career. Thank you, Joann.”
Many times, a few kind words can change the life of another. How much time does it take to look for something to praise, to offer a cheerful comment? Bless my mother! She set for me a habit that endures. I am grateful to her for living out her life believing she was to be a blessing to everyone she met. She lived Christ’s mission.
In God we all belong.
Sustaining Our Connections
Many find themselves isolated around the world to protect each other and the most vulnerable during this global pandemic. Spend time prayerfully imagining those people that you might normally come into contact with on a regular basis, known and unknown. Remember all the connections that sustain our lives each day. Even in this time of intentional separation, how are you experiencing deep, intrinsic belonging in God?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.