An encouraging word

A couple of weeks ago I took the boys to the train museum to meet up with friends we haven't seen in a long time. I wanted to have a good visit with her while our four boys were entertained with train rides and handcar excursions and train stuff, but it was one of those days where the mischief (of mine) outweighed the merriment and was wearing me down.

As we toured the sleeper and dining cars, Bug rushed ahead and we got separated as another family climbed in behind him. Boo was chomping at the bit to catch up, but I was trying to get him to stay with me. Have you seen the narrow aisles on a train? The group ahead of us was an elderly couple and their adult son--who walked with a limp.

I dreaded the outcome of Boo crashing through the train, knocking his good leg from under him and setting the older folks a-wobbling.

"Your children are beautiful," said the man as he tried to inconspicuously grasp the seat to keep from being toppled by my tots.

"Sometimes I wish their attitudes matched their appearance," I replied with a sigh.

He watched them dart around, "They made my day," he smiled.

He departed, pausing to thank the docent for his hospitality (as he had all the others as well) while I tried to keep them from crashing into the tables of rare railway china. But his comment stayed with me. Honestly, I think he was far too kind under the circumstances. But in an otherwise exasperating day, his remarks were a bright spot nonetheless.

I posted at 5 Minutes for Faith recently and shared another experience where someone expressed a kind thought that was the exact opposite of how I was feeling at the moment. Both of these experiences have me thinking...there are so many times when I think something positive or complimentary about someone but I keep it to myself.

I don't know why, exactly.

Maybe a bit of residual fear of talking to strangers. Maybe reluctance to get caught up in a greater conversation when I really only want to comment and run.

Seeing our train friends' kind smile and his expressed delight in my children when they were anything BUT delightful at the moment helped relieve some of the tension I was feeling. Which led to a better day for all of us.

I'm sure he's gone on and doesn't remember the moment at all. Maybe he's the kind of guy who says so many kind things to so many people that he wouldn't remember our incident from all the others.

But I do.

And the next time something kind occurs to me, I hope I can overcome my shyness or insecurity and just say it. It's a really small way to 'pay it forward.'

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