UNO and PresUNidentsUN
UNO and Presidents
This morning I had the privilege of helping on the School Crisis Assistance Team at our local high school, BBCHS. Sadly, they lost a teacher (my age) last night, so we were there to help the incredible counselors, social workers, and psychologists support students as they grieved the sudden loss of a clearly beloved teacher. As the advanced Spanish teacher and Spanish Club sponsor, she was able to pour into the lives of a smaller group of students, but most had her for multiple years. As I was reading the notes students left on the banner for her family, I particularly noted this gem:
When I worked as a school social worker, and still now in private practice, we often employ(ed) the use of games when working with children. UNO is an absolute imperative for any therapist. Connect Four, Trouble, Chutes and Ladders…these are critical tools of the trade! From time to time we would find out that other school staff don’t always understand how vital this is in the therapeutic process. “They just play games in social work…” For a long time I focused on using therapeutic tools, teaching skills, and measuring goals because there is such a focus on change and progress, but I wasn’t seeing the results I wanted. It wasn’t until well into my career (sadly—I’m not proud to admit that!) that I realized relationship accounts for a huge part of change. Relationship happens when two people get to know each other, respect each other, know each other’s names (unfortunately anyone who knows me probably knows I stink at remembering names!!). Relationship happens when you’re present, and stay present in someone’s life. Ultimately, relationship happens when you show someone they have value, that they are worth your time, your smile, your interest, your willingness to share a little of your life with a little of their life, knowing you are each a little richer because you have crossed paths. With children, relationships can be built over Draw 4s and skips: laughing, talking, showing them we value them enough to set the time aside to engage and let them teach us who they are.
I am so blessed to be a part of a helping profession where I get to make a difference in people’s lives often. It’s more rewarding than I have words to express. We in helping professions don’t have a monopoly on making a difference: teachers, doctors, nurses, pastors, etc. all regularly make a difference in people’s lives too. But we do not need to be paid or be a formal volunteer to make a difference. We simply need to show someone they have value.
Think about some people in your life who may have had a tiny or a large role but who made a big difference in your life. Why did they make a difference? My bet is not that they made a difference because they taught you a lot or because they gave a lot to you. My bet is that they showed you that you have value and they invested something in you. We give a little or lot of ourselves to those we encounter and that gift has the potential to change someone’s life.
“Sometimes, we come across people who touch our hearts and our lives, and it only takes a moment.”
I hope I’m there in that moment. I hope you’re there. I pray we see those moments, and that we make the choice to use that moment. Make a difference. You can change lives.
Tomorrow we begin the 45th presidential administration. I have unlimited and strong opinions about it, but will keep those to myself (so much for transparency!). But this is the message I think about when I feel anxiety about what’s ahead for us: each of us has opportunities to treat others like the valuable human beings they are. It only takes a moment to make a difference.
What are you doing with your moments?