If You Want to Remember the World is a Good Place, Try This

I cry a lot lately.

This may seem inconsequential, but I promise you that it is anything but. I’ve never been a big crier. Sure, I cry more now that I have children, but I’ve never been that guy.

I still remember our oldest child’s first day of kindergarten. Or more specifically, the night before her first day of kindergarten. I had spent the entire summer distracting myself from reality, not fully accepting the milestone that was barreling towards me like a Corvette with a brick on the gas pedal. There was no stopping it.

On a Monday night, we were settling into a new bedtime routine. Making lunches, saying prayers, reading stories, and heading to bed a little early. Our middle child is cavity-inducing sweet. She just always seems to say the perfect thing at the perfect time, and this night was no different.

After we put everyone to bed, Rylee kept getting up, coming out for something new each time. Water, a stuffed animal, her blanket was askew, whatever. I grew increasingly frustrated each time, and by the fifth time I heard her door open, I was getting upset.

As I made my way back to her bedroom, I rounded the corner and found her kneeling beside her big sister’s bed, hands folded, praying for Avery’s first day of kindergarten.

“Please help Avery to have the most fun day at Kindergarten tomorrow and make lots of friends and have a happy time and after she’s done we will go get ice cream.”

Seeing my daughter reminded me that there is so much beauty in this world. It’s just that sometimes, it’s hard to see. These are hard times. WIth the 24-hour media cycle, we are often inundated with fear. We are bombarded with all of the reasons that the world is in a downward spiral. Refugees are dying. People are starving. Politicians are lying. People kill police. Police kill people.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Watching my three-year-old get out of bed and, of her own volition, kneel beside her sister’s bed to cover her in prayer, caused me to look at the world in a different way.

To be aware of what is happening, yes, but also to look at the beauty. To notice the beautiful things. To notice the beautiful souls all around me.

Can you see it? I know that it can be tough. It means we have to slow down and be present. It may mean putting our phones down, or getting off Twitter.

Here are some things I saw when I started looking for the good:

I saw an employee at the auto parts store installing wiper blades for a mom with a screaming newborn in the back seat.

I saw a man at the grocery store foot the bill for the woman in front of him who had run out of food stamps.

I watched parents who had volunteered to coach their kid’s soccer teams, running around acting like maniacs to get kids excited about soccer.

I got a text message from a friend that she felt the twins in her womb move for the first time.

I watched as my daughter held her best friend’s hand the whole way home from school.

Even now, I’m sitting in my living room, typing these words, watching the 100-foot tall trees in my back yard sway back and forth in the wind.

We hear people talking about how the world is in trouble. How evil is running rampant. And there may be a shred of truth to this. There’s no denying that bad things are happening.

But friends, let me assure you of something.

For as much bad as there is in the world today, there is an infinite amount more love and beauty and truth and goodness and hope.

There.

Is.

Hope. Love. Joy. Beauty.

People are making music, directing movies, painting paintings, rebuilding cars, or coloring in a coloring book with their kids. People are pouring themselves out on the ones they love.

The only question in, will we be present enough to feel it? Will we take our eyes off ourselves long enough to see it? Will we fight the desire to dwell on the ugly parts of life, and instead commit to seeing the beauty?

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Carter is a writer, husband, father, & friend. He lives in Portland with his wife Rachel, and 3 beautiful girls, Avery, Rylee, & Hattie. When he’s not reading or writing, he enjoys a local micro-brew, or a strong cup of coffee. He is passionate about literature, theology, justice, Daniel Day-Lewis movies, U2 records (but with strong reservations about No Line on the Horizon), and believes that the right words can change the world. He can be found on: Twitter: @stephenedwardc

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