In A World Where We Can Be Anything, Be Kind

I have been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about kindness.  It seems that kindness and respect at times are sorely lacking in our society.  I challenged some of my students about this in a recent school assembly, reminding them that kindness is showing others they are valuable by how we treat them, and that we should treat people the way we want to be treated.

People remember how you treat them.  If you are unkind or disrespectful, that’s what people will remember about you.  But if you are kind and respectful, that will be what people will remember.  Do we want to be people who are known for our kindness and respect in a world where these values don’t seem to mean much anymore?  We don’t always get it right all the time, but we can try.

Kindness and respect mean accepting people whose lifestyles, values and beliefs are different to ours.  Kindness and respect mean being gracious and attempting to see another’s point of view when you don’t agree.  Kindness and respect are treating others the way we want to be treated.  Kindness and respect are understanding and believing that all people are equal and deserving of kindness and respect, even when it’s hard.  It can be difficult to be kind when someone is being unkind to you.  It is difficult to show respect when someone is being disrespectful to you.  But treating others unkindly or disrespectfully doesn’t make us the better person.  Retaliation, no matter how good it may feel in the moment, is not a long-term answer.  Kindness and respect mean looking to see how we can impact the life of another person who may be doing it tough and needing some encouragement or help, without expecting or wanting anything in return.

Next term I will be introducing the “Secret Agent of Kindness” project to my students.  It is completely voluntary, and the aim is that the students who choose to participate will learn to think outside of themselves and their needs and start to show kindness and respect to those around them and start to learn to make kindness and respect towards all people a natural part of their lives.

In a world where we can be anything, be kind.

We Can All Be Superheroes

I have never really been one for superheroes until I saw “Wonder Woman” at the cinema last year.  It is probably my favourite movie now.  It inspires me and moves me every time I watch it (and yes, I have watched it quite a few times!).

My favourite scene in the movie is when Diana is told that she couldn’t save the people in No Man’s Land because no one goes there and survives.  Diana doesn’t take no for an answer but instead goes where no one has gone before and did what she was told she couldn’t.  She didn’t let the negativity and doubts of others stop her; she saw what needed to be done and she did it.  She was brave, fearless, driven; she knew her purpose and nothing was going to stand in the way of what she had been called to do.  She spent years preparing for that moment; her destiny, and nothing was going to derail her from her mission.


One of my personal superheroes is my sister.  She passed away 14 years ago this month from Huntingdon’s Disease.  This hideous disease eventually robbed her of her ability to walk and talk, to feed herself and shower.  All the things we take for granted.  But the amazing thing about Shelley was her attitude.  Sure, she had some awful days, but she refused to lie down and give up.  She encouraged everyone around her; she put others first and cared more about what others were going through than what was happening for her.  Even in her final days, she showed love and care for others as best she could.  She really is a superhero.  Continue reading “We Can All Be Superheroes”

We Can Make A Difference

I am greatly saddened and heartbroken to hear of yet another school shooting in America.  School should be a place of safety, where young people go to learn and develop social skills and friendships and become equipped for their future so that they can go out in the world and be functioning, contributing members of society.  As a very dear friend of mine, who is a teacher, says, students should be raising their hands in school to answer questions or to ask questions, not in fear, not because they need to show the SWAT team that they are unarmed.  Tragedies like this result in traumatised young people and if they don’t get the help they need to work through the trauma, the impact will be far reaching.

This post is not about gun control.  It’s about society.  It’s about a generation to whom violence is normal.  So many of the primary school aged children I work with play video games and watch movies that are inappropriate.  So many of the primary school aged boys I work with have severe anger issues and who openly tell me that they want to resolve their issues through violence.  And some of them do.  They have become – or are becoming – so desensitised to violence that it doesn’t shock them or horrify them but is seen as means to resolving problems and “paying back” people for real or perceived offences.

Are we, as a society, to blame?  We may not have the gun issues in Australia that America does, but we have bullying, domestic violence, assault, degradation, and women being perceived as purely objects for the gratification of men.  We have self-harm and suicides.  We have threats of wars, poverty, pressure to perform, and competition to succeed.  It is a tough and ugly world for young people to grow up in sometimes.  Working in welfare, I see the effects of a disillusioned, disconnected, hopeless generation who have severe mental health issues and who feel alone, misunderstood, and who have lost all hope.  One of the most heartbreaking things I have ever heard is when a beautiful young girl who is currently in Year 6 told me that she had no hope and that she felt trapped.

And what about the perpetrators?  What about the young man who walked into that school in Florida, set off the fire alarm and started shooting randomly?  What drove him to that point?  Did he have mental health issues?  Most likely.  Was he too desensitised to violence?  Possibly.  Was there unresolved/unaddressed trauma in his background?  Maybe.  Or was it simply outright evil.  We may never know.  I can’t help but wonder if the outcome could have been different if someone had taken the time to really get to know this boy who appeared to be a loner, encourage him, find out about his interests, and even build enough of a relationship with him to talk with him about his obsession with guns and violence.  We’ll never know. Continue reading “We Can Make A Difference”

What’s Your Word For 2018?

We’ve all done those silly quizzes on Facebook, haven’t we?  The ones where you find out what animal you are, which character from a movie we are, what our eye colour says about our personality.  And I confess, I do enjoy these quizzes  Sometimes the results are scarily accurate; sometimes the results are so ridiculously out of the ballpark that it’s laughable.

The other day I did one of those quizzes.  I can’t remember the name of it, but it was about finding out your word for 2018.  It was from one of those Christian pages and as a follower of Jesus, I thought this could be interesting, but at the same time I was a little sceptical because I’m a naturally suspicious (discerning is a much better word!) person, so I was ready for a more “aww, that’s nice” response to my word, which I figured was probably “love” or “grace” or something equally warm and fuzzy.

Now before I tell you what my word is, you need a little context.  I work as a residential youth worker and a school chaplain/student wellbeing officer, and I am always doing my head in attending professional development seminars, reading books, researching better ways to work with my kids and understand them, attending training, talking to people, and trying to find ways to do it better and with more impact.  What’s wrong with that? I hear you ask.  Well, nothing.  Unless it becomes all-consuming and results in burn out and exhaustion.  Burn out and exhaustion are bad for anyone, but I have chronic fatigue so it’s especially not good for me.

I’m not just a residential youth worker and a school chaplain/student wellbeing officer.  I love this part of my life; I have waited and worked many years to fulfil this dream of working with hurting and broken young people.  I am also a wife, a mother (of my two adorable fur children – don’t judge me), a daughter, an auntie, a cousin, a niece, a friend, a worship leader, a singer, a writer, and most importantly, a child of God.  I am a huge advocate of the importance of relationships and how relationship is an essential foundation in all aspects of life.  But in the midst of all my striving, I found that, in spite of my heart’s desire, my relationship with God took more of a back seat and I just kept going and pushing and striving under my own steam.  And I wanted it to be different. Continue reading “What’s Your Word For 2018?”