Last week I was in Target (alone, yippee!!). As I was standing in line I was able to actually observe the people around me. Typically I’m picking up whatever Jack just threw on the floor, making funny faces at him, putting the chapstick back he just snatched off the rack, you know…the usual. But that day I was alone and could really watch the interactions taking place between others. What I saw wasn’t pretty and it hurt my heart.
The cashier said hello to the woman in front of me but you could tell it was simply automatic, just part of the routine. The customer never looked up from her phone and mumbled hello back. Once the transaction was complete the cashier handed the woman her receipt and said “Thank you, have a nice day.” The woman never responded, she was still on her phone (apparently solving world hunger judging by the intensity with which she was doing so). Then it was my turn.
“Hi, Sarah! How are you?” Y’all, her world went topsy turvy. She looked up from scanning my items and actually made genuine eye contact. It was like she was seeing another human for the first time. All I did was say her name and respond to her with a smile. It was that easy. Using someone’s first name makes them more than just a customer service representative, it makes them an individual. She then proceeded to carry on a conversation with me while ringing up my items (this is Target we’re talking about so you could essentially have played the entire “Free Bird” song during this time). It was like this woman had never talked to another person before! She thought my cosmetic brush cleaner was body spray and that lead to her telling me she doesn’t wear perfume and how a lot of people are using essential oils now…and I’m just smiling and nodding. Just lettin’ her go! After I paid (that hurt a little) and she handed me the receipt she said “Thank you”. But it was more than just thanking me for shopping at Target. Her eyes, her smile, her vibe said, “Thank you for being a nice person”. I returned the sentiment, wished her good day and moved on. She kept that brightness and welcomed the next guest. He did say “hey” in return but he looked away from her immediately afterwards and I could see it…her light was dimming again. I’m sure by the next customer her light would be out again.
See, that’s the thing…we keep letting our inner light flicker and go out. Sure, your kid hasn’t napped all day, you forgot to pay that cable bill, your husband still hasn’t fixed that hanging cabinet door (he’ll get to it by the way, no need to remind him every six months), you forgot you have to stop and get gas, you don’t have anything set out for supper and there’s three days worth of dirty dishes in the sink. But guess what…it’s okay. When you get home your kid will cuddle up with you and fall asleep in your arms (or pass out in the car and you can lean back and take a nap too), you realize your husband hasn’t fixed that cabinet door because he’s working 15 hour days and he’s exhausted, you can always eat grilled cheese for supper and those dirty dishes are reminders that you sat around a table as a family and enjoyed a meal and made memories together.
You have the power to control your light. Keeping it steady and burning is up to you and what you feed that flame. It’s okay if it gets a little dim every now and then as long as you don’t let it go out. And with great light comes great responsibility…share that light with others. Reignite their flame! Stoke their fire and remind them that they are worthy of brightness.
So, I ask you, how bright are you?