The Echoes of Kindness
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak,
but their echoes are truly endless.”
~ Mother Teresa
In our story Miracle at Redimere House, Mettie was rescued by Mama Addie from being sent to a workhouse in London. She now lives in a loving orphanage with other girls but has shown only hate and anger toward them. In spite of this, Mama Addie has persisted in her kindness and still hopes that Mettie will change. The other orphans cannot understand how she can be so kind in the face of such negative, hurtful behavior, including the most recent discovery that Mettie has been stealing food. One day while Mettie is away, Addie tells her own personal story of transformation which gives the girls a completely new perspective. They now see the situation through Addie’s eyes and are willing to show the same kindness. After sharing her story, the chapter concludes with this [emphasis added]:
The next few weeks, everyone received very small servings of soup. During that time, several rather remarkable things occurred. Felicity, who sat across from Mettie at the dinner table, said rather quietly one evening, “I’m not especially hungry. Would anyone like my soup?” Mettie reached out to grab it, but Felicity quickly lifted it. She glanced around the table, then said, “Here, Mettie. I want you to have it.”
Another time, Mettie was hanging out laundry. The clothespin bag was out of reach. Sandra saw her jumping and hurried out. “Oh, here Mettie. I’ll get them.” She then stayed to help her.
One morning, before any girls sat down for breakfast, three of the youngest orphans crept into the empty room and placed a bunch of purple violets at Mettie’s place with a handwritten note: “Your hair is pretty like flowers. You are much-loved. From us.” They giggled and ran off.
When Mettie sat down, everyone fell silent – except for a few tiny giggles. She gently touched a flower, then read the note. “Much-loved,” she said softly. When she looked up, her cheeks were wet.
This is the first time Mettie has shown even the slightest sign of softening since her arrival several months ago. Much-loved was also spoken by Addie during evening devotions a while back. Though Mettie called devotions a bunch of “big, fat lies,” she had cried herself to sleep that night when she couldn’t seem to put the words out of her mind.
People do not change overnight. Generally, we have to go through the slow process of being reformed before positive changes become permanent. Mother Teresa’s words are a good reminder not to give up! As you will see in our story, those echoes are going to be very powerful in Mettie’s life – particularly the constant reminder of being much-loved.
As parents, we need constant reminders that our work is not in vain. Our consistent love shown through kindness will eventually yield the same fruit in our children. The more exposure they have to people who are loving and kind (which definitely includes discipline!), the more likely they will be to emulate that behavior themselves. Our staff at Emeth is constantly reminded of this as it is one of our core values. Our character training program is meant to work alongside the families in our program to support them as they labor day after day to raise children to become confident adults, full of strong, moral character.