Once again, I’ve totally slacked with my blog, mainly because I have struggled for the past few weeks figuring out what I wanted to write about next. Believe it or not, a 10-year-old kid is the one who brought back my motivation and inspiration.
Anyone who knows me, knows that Christmas is absolutely, 100%, without a doubt, no questions asked my ultimate favorite time of the year. I love everything about it. I love the lights, the decorations, spending time with family and friends, and seeing the looks on people’s faces when you’ve totally nailed it with getting them the perfect present. This year, I’ve struggled getting into the spirit. I think it is because this past year has been such a transition for me. This time last year, I graduated with my Master’s degree in Counseling and began my journey as a mental health counselor. In my internship before I graduated, I counseled female survivors of domestic violence, trauma, and abuse. In my first job, I started doing in-home counseling for individuals struggling with drug addiction who were trying to regain custody of their children. This took about 50 hours per week of my time. I was also working another full-time job as a program coordinator for Big Brothers Big Sisters, an organization that serves at-risk youth in the community. This also took about 50 hours per week of my time. Pair those jobs with being in the first full year of my marriage and working on the fixer-upper my husband and I bought, and I. Was. Drained. I started becoming someone I did not recognize. I no longer wanted to connect with other people. I am such an extrovert and long engaging with others; after 7 months of doing both of those jobs, I avoided conversation at all costs. I did not want to start new friendships with people and barely had time for the ones I had. After careful thought and consideration, I decided to downsize on the jobs and take a different road with my career. I’m happy with where it is going, but once again, I’m in transition. I also think I am still dealing with the aftermath of working 100+ hours a week serving at-risk individuals in need. Please do not misunderstand-I absolutely love working with people, and those populations I served are in dire need of assistance. However, you see a different side to humanity working in non-profit organizations. 98% of my clients struggling with addiction became addicted because it was their way to cope with horrific things that happened to them. People who become addicted can also start to develop habits of manipulation and deceit; this is not for the intentional purpose of hurting others, but rather to just survive. I think because I was dealing with so much of it at once (100+hours a week, to be exact) and because I was not engaging with individuals in different capacities, I started viewing others through that lens. I started to develop irrational beliefs that most people are deceitful, most people with hurt others, and most people are selfish and only care about themselves. Rationally, I don’t agree with those statements. However, I struggled with changing my perspective. I really noticed it after Thanksgiving when I was not getting into my usual festive Christmas spirit.
Enter my Little. My husband and I have been mentoring a child in Big Brothers Big Sisters for the past six months (We are called the “Bigs” and he is called the “Little”), and it has honestly changed our lives. Our Little has an amazing mom who loves and supports our Little and his two older sisters. His dad is not in his life. To protect their privacy, I won’t get into the details of why, but suffice it to say he has not been around since our Little was 4 and his mom wanted him to have positive role models in his life. Our Little is truly incredible. He is so smart and insightful, and has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. Over the summer, he started doing yard work and dog walking in his neighborhood. When he started making money, he gave his mom 10% of what he made because, and I quote, “you should always give 10% back to God.” What?! I can guarantee you when I was 10 I was not thinking that. Our Little does not need for anything, but he certainly does not get everything he wants. At the end of the summer, he told me he wanted help finding a child who needed school supplies because he had saved $40 of his earnings to buy some for a child who could not afford them. However, he emphasized that he “wanted to give the gift anonymously because you should not do something nice just to make yourself feel good. You do it because other people need the help.” Wow. Speechless yet again.
Although those two moments really touched me, it was this past weekend that jolted me back into the Christmas spirit. My husband and I had plans to see our Little, who told us he had saved another $35 dollars to buy a Christmas present for a child who wasn’t going to get any presents this year, and again he wanted to do this anonymously. Here is a kid who probably won’t get everything on his Christmas list this year who is giving what little he has to someone else. We got the present with him and sat down to have dinner. Our Little offered to say the prayer before eating. I was pleasantly surprised that he wanted to, and we bowed our heads as our Little said this prayer straight from his heart: “Dear God, thank you for this food you provided to us to eat tonight. Thank you that we are not poor and living on the streets. Thank you that I have good people in my life and thank you for letting me go to school so I can learn and be a better person like you. Amen.” He then casually picked up his fork and started eating while I struggled to maintain my composure. It took everything I had to not start crying right then and there in front of him. Here is this 10-year-old boy who hasn’t been dealt the best hand in life. He gets picked on at school, his dad is not around, and there is only enough for needs, not wants, and yet he has the best outlook on life I’ve ever seen. He sees the best in people, he is so grateful for everything he has, and he does such selfless things when he has every right to be bitter and selfish. I was so ashamed of myself and my bitter attitude. After dinner, I gave him a hug and told him he was the best person I had ever met, and that I was so proud of how selfless he was with the Christmas gift, the back to school supplies, and the 10% he gives to the church every month from the money he makes. He just shrugged and said, “It’s no big deal. It’s what everyone is supposed to do.” Too true, kid. Too true.
So often we get lost in our own lives and struggles that we sometimes miss the bigger picture. As bad as we think we have it, there is someone out there with bigger problems that we would never want to deal with. At the end of the day, it is so important to focus on what we DO have and try to spread that positivity around. Christmas is such a great time to be reminded about that. It’s not about fighting crowds to get the best Black Friday or Christmas deals. It’s not about getting the best presents or the newest trend. As the Grinch said, “What if Christmas doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” This year, I’m so thankful to my Little for helping me remember who I truly am and what Christmas is all about. Hopefully he helped you remember, too.
Until the next journey,