Not long ago I saw a woman at church whose tag was sticking up from the neck of her dress. I knew she couldn’t see it, so I scooted up behind her and tucked it in. Then, not two minutes later, someone did the same thing for me!
There was no disparaging judgment here, as in the story (Matthew 7:1-5) of criticizing the mote in another’s eye, while a beam rests in ours, but it reminded me of that parable, nonetheless. When we think someone else has a problem, we need to stop and see if we, ourselves, have that problem– or an even greater one.
What if I criticized someone’s parking, then got to my own car and found out mine was even worse? What if I corrected someone’s grammar and then used poor grammar in doing so? We all have flaws and are on shaky ground when we find fault. It’s like the ironic line, “She’s such a gossip,” right?
In another week, those of us in the U.S. will be celebrating Thanksgiving. But what if all of us decide to turn this whole “Mote and Beam” idea into an exercise in gratitude and praise? What if we look for the best in others—even a tiny mote of goodness—and praise them for it? What if we try to build up everyone we meet, look for the shining traits that make the world better? Wouldn’t it be great to virtually scatter that kind of sunshine?
Instead of mentally picking people apart, what if we try to see them as God sees them, and find something to compliment? The clerk whose job must be endlessly monotonous, yet who shows incredible patience. The teacher who makes extra time for your child. The neighbor who quiets his barking dog. The boy who watches for his carpool ride, so they don’t have to honk and awaken you. Thoughtfulness is all around us, if we “have eyes to see.” And there’s even more opportunity to notice and commend these little actions of caring right within our own families.
Think of the times when someone noticed a small thing you did, and commended you for it. You may not even have done it consciously, certainly not to gain their favor. But didn’t it warm your heart to know they noticed? And didn’t it leave you with loving feelings toward the person who thanked you?
I’ve always told my children, “Gratitude and happiness are the same thing.” And when we find the good in others, then express appreciation for it, happiness rushes into our hearts. This doesn’t have to be the only season when we count our blessings. We can count them for the rest of our lives (I’m pretty sure we won’t run out of numbers). By looking around for little motes of kindness, we will develop one ourselves—the ability to find the good in others.
Watch the music video of Hilton’s song, What Makes a Woman, from her new musical, The Best Medicine (with music by Jerry Williams). Her books are available on her website, here. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.