Hand with Heart in the middle The Life Coach

Growing up we moved frequently, usually every 2 – 3 years. It could be very difficult for us, always being the new kids on the block. Fortunately, I was able to go to the same high school throughout all of those grades. Those were the days when mom would step out onto the front porch and call to us and we would come running home. Or in the summer the street lights would come on and unless we had permission to stay out and play night games, we knew it was time to head for home.

We were a social family and we had plenty of friends at school and at church. Our friends liked our house. There was always some kind of fun going on. I remember that my mother would cut everyone’s hair, and being the days that boys and girls had long hair, she cut a lot of hair in our kitchen. Many of the boys from church had to have short hair, but most of my friends, both boys and girls had much longer hair than I did. They loved a haircut from my mom. For them, it meant a small trim taken off the bottom, which suited them fine, and their parents could tell that their hair had been cut.

As I said, we were very social. But the bottom line was that we were taught to rely on each other as siblings. We didn’t have extended family closer than a thousand miles to us and we knew that family was everything. Although each of us has moved our families many times over the years, I have felt very fortunate to have close loving relationships with my brothers and sisters.

There have been times when I have heard my friends and others talk about the divisions between their family. They haven’t spoken to each other in years and they can’t remember the last time they gathered together for a meal or reunion. This seems so odd to me.  I can’t imagine it. We haven’t always agreed with each other and there have been times over the years when we just had to let things go instead of having turmoil between us. But no matter what differences we had we always had each other to lean on.

While I was raising my own children we also moved fairly often. I had three boys and they didn’t always get along, but I was determined that they would learn to count on each other. I read a story once and it made such a strong impression on me. I told this story to my boys over and over as they grew. Here is the story. I love it still and so do my boys.

The Three Arrows

In the late 1800s, a Chinese family came to America. They had three sons. They were belittled, teased, and bullied in school and in their neighborhood because they looked different, they talked differently, and they dressed differently. They would come home each day complaining to their father. They were beaten up often and were very unhappy.

The father gathered his sons before him and gave each of them an arrow. “Break this arrow”, he said. Snap. Snap. Snap. Each of them easily broke their arrow. Now the father gathered three arrows and handed the bunch to the first son. “Break these arrows”. Try as he might he could not. None of the boys could break the three arrows as a bunch. The father said to them, “These arrows are like you boys: easily broken when you stand alone. But when you stand together you give strength to each other and cannot be broken. Your mother and I will not always be here to support you, but you will always have each other to count on.”

Be united, supportive, encouraging, loving. All for one and one for all. But is this only applicable to families? I don’t think so. I have friends who have lived far from me for many years, but near or far we have always known that we could count on each other.

I have seen coworkers take care of those they work with. As our workplaces have evolved, many companies allow their workers to gift their vacation hours to other employees who are in need. At a company I had just begun working for, I noticed an employee who sat near me was missing. Her good friend had been sobbing for most of the morning.  I finally went to her desk to see if I could do anything for her and she said that her friend’s son had committed suicide. I was devastated for them and all that would be touched by this tragedy, but I was so impressed and grateful that the people that worked there donated their vacation time so that this single mother could take time off to grieve and support her other children. What a tremendous service these people gave. They surely didn’t know my treasured story, but they were far more than 3 arrows as they stood together, unified in support for this woman and her family.

Family, friend, neighbor, church member, work associate. Whatever relationship we have with another, this story applies. We have all had an opportunity to gather our arrows together in support of one another. Look around you. We don’t need to look far to find another that needs our friendship and support. Just take a moment and look. Sometimes it’s only a smile or a kind word. Find a place that, with your arrow, you can gather and bring strength to others.

“Grab Hold of Life With Both Hands.”

multiple hands in unityWho’s With Me?

Rita Young