Somebody With a Soul

In this cold world where there is so much loneliness,
so much apathy and so little kindness,
we can be different.

Many years ago in high school on Valentine’s Day, I turned from my locker and a boy was standing there. He was one of those kids who was treated badly all the time. He had a way of dressing and speaking that made him a target. I watched him get smashed between a wall and a mean kid’s desk one time, and he was really hurt. Nobody liked him. At all. There was no cause for this abuse other than the stupid, mindless, bestial cruelty that so often springs from adolescent hearts.

Standing there by my locker he held out a small wooden plaque with a valentine shellacked on it.”I made this for you in my basement,” he said simply.

I was only 16 at the time, but his work on that piece of wood for me touched my heart. I accepted his plaque and thanked him for it. Several kids saw what he had given me and tried to get me to laugh about it behind his back. It wasn’t funny, and I didn’t laugh.

Every one of us can probably recall a time in our lives when we felt alone, felt like we were on the outside looking in while longing to be valued in some friendly context. Maybe there are readers who feel this way now. Rejection is some of the worst pain you can experience.

Many times the isolating work I did in the past and my unique circumstances in life growing up in an evangelical para-church ministry caused that sense of loneliness and the longing to fit in somewhere. Let me tell you, I understand.

All I can say is this: Whenever an opportunity comes along that you can salute a fellow human soul on this journey of life, don’t pass it up. People don’t need pity or fake concern, they need to be treated like human beings with feelings and with souls. It isn’t complicated. Someday you may find yourself needing that salute from a fellow human. Remember that.

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8 thoughts on “Somebody With a Soul

  1. healingInHim says:

    Circumstances have me spending more time out of the house … there have been many one-on-one conversations when so many take off the mask and have expressed that they may be out socializing but inwardly are feeling very ‘lonely’. So many of us are living on the treadmill of “not stepping on toes” in order to be accepted or rejected.
    So, “Thank you Ingrid” for posting this. I felt your hug πŸ™‚

  2. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    Healing – I hear that from a friend of mine also who does counseling. Despite our “connectedness” with media and our busyness, these are times of great loneliness. I agree. Glad you got my hug! Michelle, I don’t know if it was maturity as much as it was not wanting to hurt somebody. Even a very young child knows when they are hurting someone or when a person is vulnerable. That’s why modeling empathy (the best kind of teaching) with children is important with even the smallest. I don’t know if the man remembers years ago, but I do know the opposite kind of treatment tends to stay with you, sometimes all your life.

  3. Ingrid Schlueter says:

    I have done a lot of reading about different personality types and their traits. My little daughter is much like I was and am. She’s highly sensitive, picks up on non-verbal cues easily, and feels for people and creatures deeply. These kind of personalities are called “empaths” and if you are like this, you will be able to notice things less sensitive people miss. The “feel” of a situation is in living color to you and you absorb an atmosphere easily. It’s a good trait to have in some ways, but comes with some dangers. Absorbing negative emotional situations can really hurt you if you are living in them constantly. If you stay there long, it can do tremendous damage. Learning to balance that empathy with healthy boundaries is crucial. My friend Barb used to tell me, “Stay in the boat when you are trying to pull somebody out of the water. Otherwise you get pulled in and it helps nobody.” Good advice for empaths and all of us, really.

    http://liveboldandbloom.com/08/self-improvement/empath-traits-of-highly-sensitive-person

  4. Ron Whited says:

    A wonderful and thoughtful post. I too know the anguish of being lonely and wished many times for just one thoughtful person to speak a word of encouragement to me.Even though we know One who will never leave us or forsake us, we have been created to desire the simple fellowship of others while on this journey.I appreciate your admonition that when opportunity to engage others is presented to us we should do so.
    Thank you Ingrid

  5. healingInHim says:

    Ingrid, Thank you for your additional comments and the link. This article certainly confirmed I’m an ’empath’.

  6. Kris says:

    Really liked the post and it is so true. I’ve been there with kids who don’t care that they are hurting someone’s feelings. Whether it be a prank or someone that just doesn’t like you, it’s hurtful. I realize that it probably won’t happen, but wouldn’t it be nice for that kid that gave you the Valentine to somehow come across your blog? I try everyday to do one nice thing for someone whether it be
    a kind word or holding the door open for someone. We need to show a little care and love.

  7. Judi says:

    If I were a betting woman (I’m not. πŸ˜‰ ), I’d bet boocoos of $$$ that the young man remembers your kindness to him. The simple kindness you showed in accepting him and his gift to you without hurting him and making fun of him. I’ve read stories of how a simple smile from a stranger, who actually looked at and the soul that was there, kept someone from committing suicide. I try to remember the power of that when I’m out and about doing my shopping at grocery stores, Walmart, etc. and just simply remember to LOOK at people with a smile and a friendly nod or hello or some other appropriate greeting. We who live in a world where we are loved and appreciated by friends and family have no idea how much just simply being noticed has on one who has no one who cares. I notice that in urban areas people are more apt to avoid eye contact or any kind of contact with people they meet. Thank you for your story, Ingrid. It re-reminded me, and made me teary. A good thing.

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