The worst of times seem to bring out the best in people.
This week’s deep freeze set records in not only temperatures but in levels of pain and frustration for people across Texas. Overnight, water, electricity and heat became the most valuable commodities on most people’s minds. And for many, the pain and memories will remain in the present long after the temperatures return to normal.
But we need to not let the memories of the most honest of human gestures melt away with the ice and snow. No, we need to make ourselves pause and give the better nature of people the respect due. For those anonymous hands and voices can make the difference between despair and inspiration.
My experiences are probably no different in intent from those of others, but the cumulative effect on others is what makes our community special.
This week, I know of a husband and wife living in dangerously cold conditions, declining offers from friends and others to leave their home. And while understandable, here is where an angel with a hot homemade pasta dish landed.
People who tend to help others tend to have oversized hearts and undersized egos. Their concern and motivations, rooted in the servant leadership calling, allow them to selflessly and effortlessly work to help others. Self-attention is the last thing they want.
But word gets around.
This individual drove across icy roads to deliver a hot meal to the husband and wife iced into their home. Days without electricity and heat are difficult; for people with few options, a home-cooked meal is a godsend. And navigating frozen steps to deliver is, pardon the pun, icing on the cake. I also heard of another person opening up a small rental house they owned to help others get much-needed showers and heat.
Personally, one friend came over to our house to show me how to properly prepare a specific outside plumbing fixture, while another allowed me to tap his reserve of dry firewood for days.
But I’ll bet my list is pale compared to what you are hearing. As challenging as circumstances can be, people tend to rise and help each other and those in need. No matter how difficult, our better instincts and actions — however humble and not wanting attention — win out the day.
For every scuffle in line for gasoline, there are dozens of acts of kindness going on around them. A nod to the next car, allowing them in, to another offering a tip on how to manage flushing toilets without running water. The shared experiences of kindness will always outweigh the isolated incidents of selfishness.
Importantly, let us not forget there remains a lot of pain and need out there. Commit to focusing not on what you lack, but on those who lack more than you. Making a positive difference in the world each day can be as simple as asking around. Call your Salvation Army. Call your local houses of worship. Be the difference.