When I was in the depths of post-natal depression, even simple things like getting out of bed in the morning required Herculean effort. So when a stranger shared a kind word one day, it shed some much-needed light in a dark place.
The world can sometimes feel grey and gloomy. Atrocities, tragedies, death, destruction, fraud, corruption… It’s easy to believe we’re all going to hell in a hand-basket.
And if you’ve got your own personal struggles like I had, it can seem even more bleak.
The transition to motherhood was a tough one in many ways for me. So when my husband went away for work one week and I was literally left holding the baby… Well, I wasn’t exactly dancing a merry jig.
I took her grocery shopping, wanting nothing more than to get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. At the till, Scout refused to remain sitting in the trolley so I had to take her out. And so began the stress of unpacking everything onto the belt, re-packing it and paying at the other end, and all while keeping one eye on my tiny toddler to make sure she wasn’t about to start sprinting.
Mercifully, she remained by my side while I tried to juggle eleventy things at once.
Just then, the lady behind me in the queue complimented Scout’s behaviour. I thanked her, but was too frazzled to pay any real attention, quickly dismissing it as a polite but throwaway comment.
But she continued. “She’s a credit to you.”
I was stunned. I thanked her again, and waited until I’d left before heaving huge sobs of gratitude.
That lady had no idea I was silently coming apart at the seams, but her kindness helped stitch some of me back together.
Just as a candle loses nothing by lighting another, it took no effort for her to be nice but it brightened my day when I was expecting nothing but darkness.
Nowadays, I try always to be a candle. To lighten someone else’s load, to ease their burden, to mend the bits of them that are broken…
When someone feels stuck under a dark cloud, I try to shine a rainbow across their sky.
The hardest part is doing it for those who don’t appear to be drowning. Sometimes grief and suffering is silent, and it’s easy to overlook those who seem fine. But often, those are the people who most need to know that they matter.
That day in the store, Scout and I must have seemed like a perfect little pair. I was quickly and efficiently packing my reusable bags with organic produce (because I drove myself crazy trying to ensure my daughter only had the best). And Scout stood there silently, making a mockery of me while I tried to explain to a stranger that she wasn’t always as still.
Regardless of appearances, that stranger made a kind remark.
- At a time when I felt almost frantic, she made me feel capable.
- At a time when I felt invisible, she acknowledged me.
- At a time when I thought I couldn’t take much more, she made me feel like I could keep going.
None of us knows the burdens others bear, nor the impact our words will have, so while it’s imperative to be kind to those we can see are struggling, it’s also important to be kind to those who seem to have it all together.
When you go through hell and come out the other side, it’s those moments you reflect on. You realise that those gentle words and kind gestures were the breadcrumbs that eventually led you back to yourself (even when you didn’t know you were lost).
Be the candle that brightens someone else’s day. Say or do something nice, because you never know who will carry your kindness in their heart and use it to light up their soul.
Sometimes a kind word is all it takes to save someone.
Right click on the images below (or hold down on them on your mobile device) so you can save them and share them. It could be to a friend, a family member, a colleague, or a complete stranger. If you want, you can remain anonymous by printing the relevant ones and leaving them in someone’s mailbox or on their desk, or slipping one under their door.
Or leave one in a public place for someone else to find, perhaps on a seat on public transport, on a park bench, pressed between the pages of a library book…
They range from sweet to silly, and I've included a blank one so you can add your own message.
If you want, you can snap a picture of where you've placed it. Share it on social media using #BeACandle to spread the word, inspire others, and so I can give you a virtual high five.
Each of us can #BeACandle.
And together, we can light up the world.
Please share to help spread the word:
For more ideas on spreading positivity, check these out: