Last week the kids and I did something secretly incredible – and it was almost an accident.
I packed the kids in the car and drove us to a day home for the severely handicapped. I was nervous about how my four kids under six would behave.
How would they react to seeing people who were so different? I struggled to find words to describe the people we’d meet.
I didn’t want to call them “handicapped” or “patients” as that seemed to limit their full personhood. I decided “guests” sounded more appropriate, especially as the guests only came to the home for the day.
We got ourselves settled in the welcoming room and waited for the day guests to arrive.
The Biggest Smile
I’ve often heard parents of handicapped children claim they receive more from their needy child than they give. When the first guest entered the room she greeted us with a smile most folks would save for a long-lost friend.
That was my first glimpse into why parents might feel so blessed by their needy children.
We sang and shared together then went to the kitchen for a snack. The guests and my kids played peekaboo together and laughed as my two-year-old ran after a ball.
I could do nothing wrong. Even though my Swiss German is about as good as a three-year-old’s, the guests appreciated every feeble attempt at communication.
As a mother of four little kids I have little time or energy to bless others. I’m grateful for every ounce of help that comes my way and count a day successful if I’m not a terrible grouch.
Yet here we were, bringing some joy to those on the margins of society.
I felt secretly incredible, and incredibly blessed to be there.
A morning with the handicapped is not as impressive as freeing innocent kids from prison, but it fits the definition I introduced last week:
“If we are confident in our ordinary abilities and open to our ordinary situation, we can lead secretly incredible lives where we make life for those around us a little better, a little less lonely, and a little more joyful.”
The visit was very much a combination of what is ordinary about me and my situation.
I have kids and a cute baby that make people smile. It’s hard to get more ordinary than that!
We can visit in the early morning because my kids are early risers and we homeschool. There’s nothing special about kids that wake up at the crack of dawn.
While homeschooling might seem intimidating to my readers in Europe, homeschooling is ordinary in many parts of the world.
I’m afraid of driving, so the most heroic part of the outing was getting there. For many people, driving is one of the most ordinary activities imaginable.
We’d been invited half a year ago, but there was always an obstacle: we didn’t have a car, I was about to have a baby, or I just plain procrastinated because it wasn’t urgent and it was intimidating.
One day they had an open house and my husband drove us there. We got a chance to preview the drive and the building and that gave me enough confidence to make a date. A date when two of our friends were working there and could help me manage the children.
The opportunity fell in my lap and it resonated with my values enough for me to overcome the small but intimidating humps necessary to follow through.
What would happen if I were more intentional?
I bet if I embraced my ordinary skills, stopped moaning about not being good with the local language, and kept my eyes open for opportunities I could be secretly incredible more often than once a year.
I’m inspired to revisit the Four Actions Framework and reduce what isn’t necessary and improve my ordinary abilities for the purpose of being secretly incredible.
What about you? Have you experienced a secretly incredible moment? Please share!