The other day I was talking to my cousin about her little girl. They recently moved to the area and her little girl, who is a little rambunctious, was having a hard time adjusting to her new elementary school. Fortunately, her teachers understood that she was going through a tough time and worked with her. Now after 30 days she had made real progress.
My cousin described what happened next. They had a huge assembly at the school, invited all the parents, and among the awards given that day was one to her little girl for all the work she’d done to improve her behavior.
I could imagine it. The crowd gathered in the cafeteria/gym/assembly hall. The wooden stage with the red velvet curtains on the side. The vague smell of tennis shoes and chicken nuggets. The wooden podium with the kids shifting nervously on their feet. I swelled with pride at the thought of her accomplishment. Then I had a second, slightly more selfish thought.
How come we don’t have those kinds of assemblies for grown-ups? I’m not talking about those huge award shows for celebrities or medals given to national heroes or trophies handed out to folks who make their sales goals. I’m not saying those aren’t worthy; quite the opposite. Of course, those folks deserve recognition. They do amazing things. And awards serve an important purpose in our communities. For my cousin’s little girl, it was a reward likely to encourage her to keep working hard to adjust to her school. For a country, a medal for bravery can inspire others to make sacrifices for a greater good.
But I do think there’s room for awards that recognize something a tad smaller.
For example, I’ll bet you deserved an award in the last few months. Some sort of award for a little victory in your life. Chances are there have been months where having an award for just making it through without having a breakdown would have been wonderfully encouraging. We’ve all had that week, month, year; a time where we look back over our shoulder and think, “Holy cow, how did I ever get through that mess?”
For these kinds of awards, we don’t need a medal or solid gold trophy of a guy crossing his arms like a mummy. Heck, I don’t think I even need a huge crowd and a stage. I’d be happy with four folks at a coffee shop. Maybe someone springs for a bagel.
So I have a suggestion. Take a minute and think of someone you know who made it through a rough patch. They picked themselves up, focused forward, brushed off the dirt on their nose, and kept going. How about you give them a call, toss them a note, or maybe just spring for a bagel? Because sometimes a bit of recognition of getting through is just the thing that keeps us going through the next one. Lord knows, there’s always a next one.