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Harper Lee and I got up yesterday morning and headed over to
Surry Central for a “Feeding the Future” Zumbathon. My friend, Deanne, is a certified Zumba
instructor and P.E. teacher at the high school, and she and her students hosted
the event as a fundrasier to help alleviate hunger among the county’s
elementary school children through a backpack program. It was a
super event for an even better cause.
The gym was packed with enthusiastic teenagers and some very
supportive moms along with a slew of folks who were ready to do their part to serve the community. Several of the students got up on stage to
lead the dances, a pretty daunting task, but there was an almost palpable
positive vibe as they danced and cheered one another on. And the thing that stood out most to me was
my friend, Deanne, as she moved through the crowd, encouraging those of us in
the audience as well as offering support and guidance to her students who
were brave enough to step up on that stage.
What I saw yesterday morning was a woman who was teaching other young men and
women not only about physical fitness but also about confidence and the good
things that can happen when we believe in ourselves and come together to serve
others and reach out to our community.
It was pretty awesome.
After we left, Harper Lee and I were hungry so we stopped at
Subway for a quick sandwich. While we
were there, the conversation turned (somehow) to being a good person and doing
the right thing even when it would probably be easier to do the opposite. Specifically, Harper Lee told me about
another girl on the playground who had referred to her friend as fat, as in “I
can’t believe you let a fat girl beat you.”
The friend was, of course, devastated.
We talked about how words and actions can affect others in a profound
way, in ways you might not even know about or understand. I told her that how we present ourselves, how
we treat other people, is what we will be remembered for. We can be beautiful and smart and athletic
and funny, but the thing that people will remember, what they will take away
from having met us, is how we treat them.
I told her the story of one boy in particular who made my
life miserable in middle school, calling me ugly and tormenting me even when I
had done nothing to him. Ironically,
this same boy asked me to our senior prom, once I was not so “ugly” anymore, and
I had the great joy of telling him no. I
also told her about Tracy, the quintessential Homecoming Queen, who was a
senior when I was a freshman in high school.
She was insanely gorgeous, an honor student and the head majorette for
our band, and she was, quite genuinely, one of the kindest, most humble girls I
ever met. I haven’t seen either of them
in over 20 years, but I know exactly how the thought of each of them makes me feel. One of them gives me knots in my
stomach and makes me grimace with the very thought of him, and one makes me
smile. How they treated me, even as far
back as 1986, colors my picture of them to this very day.
I told Harper Lee, “Some day, you will be in a position to
either destroy someone or to lift them up.
Be sure you use
your blessings to live in the way God wanted you to when He gave them to
you. Be sure to lift others up.”
I saw my friend lifting others up yesterday, and I don’t think
I’ll be the only one who remembers it.
Journal Topic: Think
about those people in your life who lifted you up. What do you remember about them? How would you like others to remember you?