Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Window Writing

Just this past week I met my oldest daughter and Olivia at a local coffee shop. This is where we meet when my day with Judah is at its end. I carried Judah into the shop and sat his car seat on the table and his sweet mama peered in at him and he smiled.

Then we went out to our cars to transfer the diaper bag and all the baby paraphernalia. When we got to our cars in the parking lot there was a young woman standing beside Olivia’s quirky little station wagon. She was taking photos of Olivia’s windows. We weren’t sure what was happening at first. But the young woman looked at Olivia and said: I hope you don’t mind. This is just too sweet; I had to take a picture. This is amazing.

Olivia then explained why and how the words had been written on her windows. I stood back and watched the whole interchange. And I smiled.

Two months ago my youngest daughter, Abby, wrote on her sister Olivia’s car windows. The youngest sister waited until third sister was at work and she snuck into the parking lot and wrote on the back and side windows of Olivia’s little quirky green station wagon. Abby made sure she left visual room to see to drive, but thick, large words covered the glass.

That day was Olivia’s nineteenth birthday. And little sister decided she wanted to do something to make this sister know how incredibly special she is.


Abby wrote words for the whole world to see. She did it publicly. She shouted the words.



Dear Oliva, I think you are gorgeous, funny


btw...you make awesome brownie batter
[you are] Awesome, brilliant and any other adjective you can think of...

The words are still there. Almost two months later the words remain on the windows. Olivia has not touched them, not even bothered or attempted to remove them. Even the rain has not changed them.

In a world, often gone wrong, I smiled that day in the coffee shop parking lot becaue I was a witness to the world going right. I inwardly rejoiced because those good words, kind words, encouraging words, loving and funny words not only blessed Olivia, but they touched someone else. They impacted someone else’s world so much that they too wanted to record it.

In the course of a day we do not understand how our words and actions affect and touch someone else. We are often unaware of how a kind and genuine word can be the one branch or twig that changes the flow and run of an otherwise out of control or a damned river.

I am not sure how long Olivia will let the words her sister wrote remain on her windows. My guess is as long as they do. I can’t see her taking a bottle of Windex and a roll of paper towels and wiping them away. I just don’t see that happening. It means too much to her. When Olivia looks out her windows now, she must look through those words. She will remember what her sister has said. When others (driving by, stopped at red lights, in parking lots) see those windows, they have to look through those words to see Olivia.

Why?

Because her sister wrote those words.

Someone who had lived with her. Someone who had seen the good, the bad and the ugly. Those words were written by someone she had argued with, gotten frustrated with and who had been frustrated with her, someone who knew how messy she kept her room, someone who knew her flaws and her failures. The person who wrote those words about Olivia knew her.

The words were not flattery. They came from a sister who wanted another sister to understand she was loved.

Sometimes our families are hard places. For whatever reason, sometimes they are just hard. Our families can be our point and place of refuge and safety or they can be the most frightening place in the world. Sometimes they can be both in one day.
Why?

Because families—our husbands, wives, daughters, sons, mothers, fathers—see the good, the bad and the ugly.

But on that day, on Olivia’s birthday, her sister declared to the world the good and the beautiful she saw and sees in Olivia.

Abby spoke to Olivia in a way that would be immediately seen and heard. She spoke in a way that would take an intentional act to remove.

And they have not been removed. Perhaps, they haven’t because those words help Olivia remember who she really is. They are visual reminders of an internal truth that often gets blurred or blocked by the world. Maybe, they haven’t been removed because they strengthen her resolve to continue to be that person—to continue to be and to become the words that are written on her windows.

Today, I ask you to write on someone’s windows. Remind them of who they really are. Point out the beautiful, the good and the real. Take the time to invest in someone’s assessment of themselves. Remember they are going to be looking back through those windows. And others will be looking at them through those windows.

Stop constantly pointing out the ugly. It’s easy to do that. Cease highlighting the bad. It’s not hard to find the bad. If you look for it you will find it. Oh, you will find it.

Instead, today look for the good. Some people have told me I am incredibly naïve for always looking for the good in people. Naïve? That implies I don’t have a clue that there is bad or ugly. Or that I choose not to see or acknowledge it.

Oh, I know bad. I know ugly. I have seen them both. Sometimes when I look in the mirror I see them staring blatantly and defiantly back at me. (At some point you have to learn to find the good and beautiful in yourself too.)

Therefore, today—today I am going to find the good and write it on the windows. I am going to find a big white wax crayon and write the truth so that the people around me have reminders of who they really are.

Abby did.

And blessed Olivia.

Their Mama is going to follow their example.