Red sky at night, sailors delight; red sky at morning, sailors warning. – Proverb
I woke up to a red sky recently.
The moment my eyes opened, dread greeted me. My body felt tired and uninspired to rise. I glanced at the clock to see if there had been a mistake. Maybe I woke too early or set the clock incorrectly the night before.
But there was no mistake. It was time to get up and face my red sky.
Somewhere in sailor lore the belief was born that a red sky at morning foreshowed a stormy day ahead. Perhaps there’s meteorological evidence to support this, but the notion wasn’t based on scientific evidence – it was based on practical evidence: “It seems like every time there’s a red sky at morning, it storms, the waves are rough and it’s dangerous,” might be what a sailor had concluded.
When I woke the immediate sensation of hopelessness provided the indication the sky was red. I didn’t have to dwell on it one moment longer; I knew the feeling because somewhere in my past I’d experienced it before.
I reached over the pillow and turned off the clock radio. My feet found the floor and I was up. Pulling on a sweatshirt, I found my way to the kitchen and to the waiting coffee. The first sip helped to calm my mind.
My morning routine of checking email, replying to blog comments and updating my Facebook page seemed more like a chore than the usual satisfaction it provided. Looking in from the outside, my sky may have appeared to be clear, bright and beautiful.
But living from the inside that’s not how it felt.
My sky had been filling with anxiety lately. The things I wanted for myself were not happening. It seemed no matter how much effort I exerted, I came away feeling empty and unappreciated.
It felt like everyone around me was getting what they wanted while I was left coming up short. I felt excluded, alone and forgotten. I felt the storm lingering over me and I was frightened it wouldn’t stop.
I took another sip of coffee and went back to my morning routine.
Doing a quick scan of the subject lines in my Inbox, one grabbed my attention. It was from an unfamiliar sender and contained just one word, “Kindness.”
Kindness is what I needed so I eagerly opened the email and began reading.
It was from a mother of a 12-year-old girl who was the target of bullies. She was sharing a story in response to the 31 Days of Kindness challenge I recently launched. The mother told me she and her husband decided to enroll their daughter into a new school and away from the bullies.
The mother asked her daughter what she needed most from the new school, besides safety. The young girl replied:
Kindness, Mommy, I just want people to be kind to me. I don’t act like they do to me, and I don’t understand why people are mean.
I saw myself as that child; I remembered when my red sky was born. I was also the target of bullies. In that moment, I wished someone would save me, too.
I finished reading the other emails before closing the lid to my laptop computer.
The dimly lit kitchen provided an impromptu, but suitable sanctuary for prayer. I pushed the computer to my left and the coffee cup to the right. Placing my elbows in the middle, I buried my face into my hands.
The last several weeks had been difficult. Mary Beth and I had been in a rut; my career was stalling and I was physically drained from working all day and then blogging at night.
I wanted someone to come save me. The frustrated, tired and hopeless feeling was circling around me. The feeling told me that my soul wasn’t safe. My soul was beginning to believe the things I want are the things I don’t deserve. My soul was in danger of giving up.
The bullies taught me to take warning when they started circling because they were about to rip worthiness from me. That’s how my soul felt at that moment, too.
Praying, I asked God to strengthen my faith. I asked Him to offer reminders of my worthiness. I asked God to push away the storm.
I opened my eyes and pulled the laptop in front of me.
Finding the email from the mother, I read it one time. At the end of her email was a sentence I didn’t notice before. My eyes stayed there and took in each word:
I thank you for raising the bar a little and hopefully you will personally experience the results of your challenge.
My red sky began changing color.
I docked my laptop and placed the coffee cup in the dishwater. It was time to shower and dress for work. A new day was waiting.
In preparing to launch the 31 Days of Kindness challenge I forgot to save a little kindness for me. Perhaps the most important act of kindness I can show is to remind the little boy who still lives inside of me that he is worthy to receive his heart’s desire.
Since that morning, I’m learning a red sky doesn’t have to be a sign of danger; it can also be a sign of hope. My red sky was created at a time when the storm was real, but today it’s just the storm’s echo that vibrates in my soul – the real danger has passed.
In the space in between what we once believed to be true, and what is true today, is a beautiful new sky. The sky can be painted with the new colors we put on our palettes. Our skies can have less anxiety and hopelessness and more worthiness and kindness.
The next time I wake up to a red sky I’ll remember I’m worthy to light up the sky with any color I choose – and I’ll remember I can push away the storms by showing myself a little more kindness.
Farnoosh Brock of Prolific Living is graciously offering the Life Lessons eBook as a free gift to you. It contains quotes and self-reflections from 108 of the most inspirational bloggers (I’m included, too). Collaboration is love. Collaboration is care. Collaboration is what brings you the Life Lessons eBook.
The image used in this post is courtesy of Celtic Dragonfly