"Go the extra mile, it's never crowded." Author unknown, advice very true. I've known a few people in my life that actually did this...go the extra mile. However, those people are few and far between. Many of us "go the extra mile" once in a while, but not many of us perform the action as an ongoing part of our lives. I've been thinking about that a lot lately and wondering what has happened to us as a society to make it unusual to do more than is expected.
I once worked with a very sweet girl. She had loads of marital problems, but she was a kind and giving person. One day we were talking about this very subject, going the extra mile, and I asked her this question: "Knowing that you always go over and beyond for others in your life and since things haven't turned out the way you envisioned or hoped they would, what will you teach your children about going this extra mile?" She looked up from her work and said pointedly, "I will teach them to look after number one. Nobody else is going to, you have to do it yourself." (Or some such words.) Her answer startled me. She seemed to be a truly kind person, one that you'd want on your team, but this statement cast an entirely different light on my perceived impression of her.
I hoped that this answer was just the product of a particularly challenging day, and I wanted the explanation of why she had answered thus to be that she had been so badly hurt and used up in her relationships that she had morphed from who she really was meant to be into someone who was bitter and deeply angry at her lot in life. For a number of years it troubled me, and if I saw her, which happened infrequently, I had an unsettled feeling toward her. Gone were those feelings that I'd want her to be in my corner...somehow I knew that if I looked over my shoulder into that corner for help or solace, she would be nowhere to be found. Did I judge too quickly? Probably. I hope so.
I also had a much younger woman once tell me that "it didn't take but one time for somebody to do something to her, before she crossed them off her list forever." Wow, I thought, since I had recently said something to her in the heat of a situation that could have (and probably did) put me squarely in that category...crossed off the list forever.
Here's my point, what YOU perceive to be truth or reality isn't always either...the truth or reality. Some of you are saying, "But it's MY truth or reality." Well, I still maintain, YOUR TRUTH OR YOUR REALITY may not be, in fact, either truth or reality. When we get to the point in our lives that we quit going the extra mile, for whatever reason, and when we cross off others from our life's list, because they didn't perform at that very moment like you think they should have, we have become isolated people. This truth hit me particularly hard the other day as I was ranting to someone else about a young woman who did the unthinkable...she didn't acknowledge me when I spoke to her. "Well, it will be the last time I will speak to her!" I ranted and then from somewhere deep inside a voice said, " Oh, come now, Mrs. Fancy Britches, do you really think you are so perfect that you've never not spoken to someone when you should have?" That voice always makes me stop and think...
Of course, we've all made a societal faux pas or two. I don't want to get too far off my subject...I just want to encourage you to (1.) Go the extra mile, even if no credit is given (what a concept!) and (2.) Don't immediately cross somebody off the Christmas card list because they were probably having a bad day and said or did something wrong.
To view the world through a prism of kindness, to see the glass half full rather than half empty, and to forgive others when slighted are worthwhile goals for anyone's life. What an encouragement we could be to others, and what an example we'd set for this younger generation. The world is running out of role models.
P.S. We all get tired of "doing over and above"...that's why we are told to "not be weary in well doing"... In case you are wondering, I am writing this post to myself... recently I have found that "well doing" is not always easy. I have found myself tired and sometimes knee deep in self pity. I need to remind myself most of all.