The things that break our hearts are often the things that make us powerful. I am regularly reminding my children and their friends that someday they will have the opportunity to use each hurt to help another human.
A dear friend shared the following story with me, and although I was sad for her younger self, I know it is these sorts of events that mold us into people who learn to love others well.
"When I was 10 years old and in fifth grade, there were some kids in class who were always picking on me. They would make fun of me for wearing clothes that were bought at secondhand stores or the fact that my mom was from another country and didn't speak English very well.
"It was hurtful, because one of the girls who was the worst at name-calling had been a childhood friend I used to play with. Every day, I would walk or ride my bike to school. The bullying was getting worse and worse.
"One day, the kids told me that on Friday they were going to beat me up after school. I was sweating all week thinking about Friday, and when the day came, they were indeed waiting for me right outside the school's property line.
"That day, I had brought my bike so I could try and get away faster. I was blocked by a wall of about five kids. They pushed me off my bike and had circled me while I was laying on the ground.
"They were about to throw the first punch when a car driving by pulled over. A lady got out and started yelling at the kids. 'Stop that! What are you doing? Back away from her or I'm calling all your parents!'
"A lady I recognized and only remember as 'Logan's mom' came running up to me and said 'Are you OK?' She told me to get in the car, put my bike in her trunk, and drove me home.
"The next year, I started going to a new school that we drove to every day. The kindness Logan's mom showed me that day will never be forgotten.
"While the story is painful, there is a lot of positive that has come from that experience. We do Chinese New Year presentations and feed the teachers homemade Asian food to expose kids and teachers to the beauty of our cultural differences. Hopefully this makes my kids proud to be one-quarter Asian."
The woman who sent in this letter is one of the kindest, most compassionate people I know. She has a special place in her heart for teachers, but her acts of kindness radiate far beyond any one sphere.
I have to imagine that this experience from her youth was one of the things that taught her the importance and value of being kind to others. She has transformed something terrible into a memory that makes her a powerful force for good.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at email@example.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.