Connecting local responses around the world
One of my favorite past time is watching the sunset. My heart leaps with joy at the sight of the clouds, dancing in the colorful display of lights. I thank God for such a magnificent sight and acknowledge that He too has created all humans, beautiful and for a purpose.
Recently I met a Chinese lady by the name, “白云” (Chinese pinyin: “Bai Yun”), which means cloud in mandarin. Naturally I praised that she has a beautiful name which surprised her and she enquired why. After hearing my sharing on the beauty and the purpose of clouds to humanity, she was close to tears and thanked me for sharing this truth with her. Our names are given by our parents, with good intentions, to represent who we are and what they hope we would become. “Bai Yun” despised her name since childhood because of the negative words her aunt had said which affected her self-confidence till today. I heard of another story of a youth of ours, who often received sarcastic or racist remarks from his classmates and friends. Instead of caving in, encouraging words from our staff have built him up.
Both stories illustrate how powerful our words, be it affirmative or condemning, have on a child’s development and growth. Every child is created at birth, beautiful and with great potential but the journey through life is thwarted with obstacles and challenges and these prevent us from developing our full potential.
Recently, at one of our regular SALT sharing, a colleague asked “How can you give when you have not received?” He shared his struggle in affirming the strength of others because he rarely received this himself. I found myself listening to what could have been my own inner self speaking. Sometimes, I entertain a voice that tells me that I am not good enough and become paralyze by it. However, when I receive praises, I do not know how to react or accept them gracefully. I questioned whether this is true. Have you ever doubted your own potential by listening to the negative voice inside you? I blame this on the fact that we are brought up in an imperfect world that often fails to see our strength but magnify our own fears and weaknesses.
One good suggestion given to my colleague was to start affirming his new born son and slowly, he would become good at this skill. My work has given me many opportunities to exercise the skills of supporting, affirming and empowering youths and families to move forward in life. I know that exercising this skill will slowly transform me inside, to acknowledge that I too, have immeasurable potential given by God and to accept others’ compliments gracefully.
I am glad I have spoken the magical words to “Bai Yun”, re-filled her life with hope and meaning. She went away happy. My wish for her, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore, is “Clouds come floating into her life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to her sunset sky.”