Today we woke up to some sad news. My daughter Chai’s hermit crab had passed. Charlotte lived a good life with us for over two years, which is a true miracle really. We knew this day would come, but it didn’t make it any easier watching Chai mourn the loss of her dear pet. We held a little ceremony out back and said some kind words about our sweet crab. “She never even pinched me with her claws…” It was really sweet to watch the other kids give hugs and make their sister feel loved, which is something I want to talk about today.
Making people feel loved and heard is a true art. It’s something that my grandma, whose name was also Charlotte, taught me well. You always left her presence feeling heard, known, and, most of all, loved. She never interrupted you and you could tell she wasn’t just waiting for her turn to talk. She cared about what you had to say and would never rush you along. She was a true gem and taught me well.
This is something that is very important to me and a lesson I got to pass on to my daughter today. If you’ve been to my house then you have probably met our lovely neighbor Ms. Ruth. She is one of a kind. Ruth turned 90 years old this year and loves my kids SO well. When Chai and Asher were learning how to ride their bikes, I had just had a baby so I was inside watching her running behind the kids’ bicycles holding their seats so they wouldn’t fall over. She was well into her 80s when she was on the floor teaching Hosanna how to do a somersault. There really is no one quite like our Ms. Ruth. Unfortunately, she is getting up there in age and isn’t quite as with it as she once was. The kids don’t really have understanding for that, and, as kids will, they just think she’s a little bit crazy.
It can be easy to forget that old people were young people once. Today I asked Chai, while she was playing the iPad, to return some pans to Ruth that she let us borrow, because of course she is literally one of the most generous and sharing human beings that I get to know. It wasn’t five minutes and Chai was back playing the iPad again. I asked if she had said thank you or really anything besides dropping the pans and running back for more screen time. Of course the answer was no, and instead of being frustrated, I took the time to teach her a lesson about listening.
I want to live in a world where people matter. Every. Person.
The art of listening needs to be taught. Through example, but also through more formal methods. Chai and I sat on the couch and talked about why making time to listen to Ms. Ruth was far more important than rushing back to play with the tablet. It was hard to talk about how our time with Ms. Ruth may be short and how we need to take every opportunity to make sure that she feels loved, because we never know how many chances we’ll have to let her know.
Chai’s teachable heart made me so proud as I saw her grasp the concept of putting people before things. She was genuinely sorry and went straight to work writing a card to tell Ms. Ruth thank you for loaning us her pans and how we are so thankful to have her for our amazing neighbor. Instead of just handing her the card and going off on her way to play, she stopped and gave Ruth her time and the gift of being heard.
I want to live in a world where people matter. Every. Person. When I go into the grocery store, I make conversation with the cashier and listen and try to remember what he or she says for next time so he or she feels valued. I am intentional about where I shop. I frequent businesses that have the mindset that people matter and treat their employees well leading to less turnover. They earn my business because I like knowing where they put value. I also love building relationships. I love stopping into the butcher shop and having a conversation with my friend about his family, work and life. People are always worth my time and the best investment I’ll ever make.
Don’t be in such a rush that you miss the people in front of you. Every person is valuable and might surprise you if you take the time to listen. How will you take time to love the ones around you today?