Last week, Minnesota Vikings’ kicker, Blair Walsh, missed a 27-yard field goal attempt with 26 seconds left that would have won the NFC Wild Card game over the Seattle Seahawks (the Vikings lost 10-9). It will come as no surprise to you that the social media world was ruthless.
However, first grade teacher, Judie Offerdahl, saw it as a great way to teach her class about empathy. These first graders pulled out their crayons and went to work. Walsh received an entire stack of letters and pictures of encouragement. Here are a few of the sentiments that were shared:
“Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. One time I made a mistake when I was doing a cartwheel. I felt embarrassed. You can still help the Vikings win the Super Bowl next year.”
“I know that it can be hard to get through things that are sad, but you have to try and try again”
And my personal favorite:
“Keep on trying. Puppies are cute.”
Blair Walsh was so moved by these acts of kindness that he visited Northpoint Elementary School this week to thank his encouragers. In a statement from the Vikings, Walsh said “These kids really made a difference in my life so I thought I’d come and help make their day.” (For the full story and to see pictures click here).
If you’ve been a part of the foster care system for any length of time, you understand that disappointment is part of what you signed up for. Sometimes we are disappointed in our social worker, sometimes in a lawyer on the case or in the judge, sometimes we are disappointed in the birth family and sometimes we are just disappointed in the system overall.
The choice we are left with is to either do the easy thing and join the hoards (like those on social media) and complain about those who disappoint us or do the hard (but better) thing and demonstrate empathy and love.
Who has disappointed you lately and what can you do this next week to show them extraordinary kindness?
There are lots of people in your world who need lots of things. The good news is that the very biggest need they all have is something you actually have the resources to provide: encouragement.
They need to be encouraged so that they will try again.
And they probably also need to be reminded that puppies are cute.