A few nights ago, lying beside the crib in a darkened room, I said prayers with our youngest.
When I was finished, his voice spoken softly said, “Mama, I wish I could say my prayers myself.” A little surprised I said, “…of course baby, you can talk to God anytime.” Honestly, I wasn’t really expecting him to pray again right then and there, but he did. He thanked God for the day, for Mama, Daddy, and Ella. He thanked God for each grandparent. And then he said this, “…and God please help me to be nice. Amen”
Please help me to be nice. What a simple request. What a simple prayer.
You know most of us want to live a meaningful life. We often fret about finding our purpose and calling in this world. We want to feel like our life matters. In the hopes and dreams of figuring all of this out, we often feel that we must do something really great to matter. We must accomplish something magnificent to make a difference. We search for that one great thing we can do to change the world, but sadly we aren’t willing to do the thousands of small things that cross our paths each and every day that could make the difference to another. In a desire to help everyone, we miss out on helping someone. We want the miraculous, not the mundane. We want the tremendous, not the tedious. But what if living this one life well is not so much about one big event, one big pass or fail test, but rather the culmination of many moments over many years? Moments of small selfless acts. Moments of handing a vase of flowers to the neighbor who doesn’t get out much. Moments of visiting someone in the nursing home just to let them know that they are not alone. Moments of paying for the coffee for the person in line behind us. Moments of reaching out a hand of friendship to that person who seems to be on the outside looking in. What if a meaningful life looks much more like small acts of kindness that bring joy and shine light for another soul? One little moment at the time. What if sometimes….we just need to be nice?
When the line is backed up and the cashier seems to be moving at a snail’s pace, please help me to be nice. When the car pulls out in front of me only to turn a few feet later, please help me to be nice. When the server brings me the wrong food, and I’m tired, frustrated, and want to complain, God please help me to be nice. When that person is argumentative, and I just want to let them have it, please God help me to be nice.
Let’s change the world. Let’s live out our calling. Let’s search for our purpose and our passions. Let’s change lives. But while we are searching for and working towards all of these grand things, may we remember to ask God to help us take notice of all these seemingly smaller things. And maybe say the prayer of my little boy, “God, please help me to be nice.” And in so doing, we shine the light of God’s love into another heart. And ultimately, when you think about it, illuminating another heart really does change the world.