The * to the Golden Rule

We all know it…the Golden Rule.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

It’s a simple concept many of us learned as toddlers from our parents or in Sunday school.

The concept comes up quite frequently with my 5 year old. Many of our conversations revolve around me asking her to put herself in someone else’s shoes in order to understand how she might feel in their circumstance. They’re typically really big things like recess exclusivity or declarations of multiple levels of best friend-ed-ness among classmates. These are massive issues for a 5 year old.

And so we talk about the Golden Rule.

And we’ve recently added an asterisk to ours…

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

*do unto others what they need you to do unto them

Why the asterisk?

Last month marked the one year anniversary of losing my mom.

The first year was an uphill, curvy battle. It was just hard. I sometimes circled the same emotions over and over, often sunk to new depths of sadness, and even rose to find joy amidst the deep sorrow at unexpected times.

There were two common themes for me as I navigated year one and carried the weight of this grief. The first theme entailed sadness, loss, and loneliness for my momma. The second entailed love; love from family and friends who aided me in moving forward, acknowledged my grief, and reached out on tough days.

What I’ve learned is that when you’re enduring grief you will be surprised by the ones who come along side you and shocked by those who don’t. And perhaps the Golden Rule is to blame for that…

The absence of support from people I imagined would be first in line actually helped me acknowledge the times I have abandoned others in their times of need.

In walking through this dark valley, I often found my own shortcomings illuminated.

Plenty are the times I have abandoned people in my life because I didn’t understand their needs, I was too self absorbed to look further, or simply didn’t choose to take the time. We all have different needs and it’s easy to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” when their needs align with your own.

But what about when the people in our lives need something beyond what we deem fitting? What if a talker needs to talk and you prefer to deal more quietly? Or if there is the feeling of one being dramatic and you are just ready for them to move on already? I’ve been on both ends of those scenarios. What then should we do? RISE. We need to rise. We need to do the uncomfortable thing and push beyond ourselves for the people we love. We need to love the people in our lives the way they need to be loved. Their terms, not ours.

The Golden Rule is mostly about reciprocal kindness which is good, but it doesn’t end there. I’m talking about taking the next step…

Let us love one another and support one another based on the needs of the person in need.

I received a whole lotta love from extraordinary women in my life over the course of the past year. My Nana, a few sweet Aunts, and some dear friends have risen for me. They let me weep when I needed to weep even if thats not the manner in which they would have dealt with a loss of similar magnitude. These women didn’t only do unto me as they would want done unto them. They asterisked me. They went many steps further and continue to do so…

My Great Aunt Betty and cousin, Tina, flew to Denver to be with me on the one year anniversary of my mom’s death. They just dropped everything and came. For me. Because they knew I needed them. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise as they had been there for me every day throughout the year; from my first birthday without a phone call from my momma to my first Mother’s Day without a momma to call.

They rose up and loved me in a way I needed to be loved.

This is now known as asterisk-ing.

I took them to do a few of the special things I had always wanted to do with my mom in the city I love. High Tea at The House of Commons, lunch downtown, and a St. Louis Cardinals game at Coors Field (Kevin had promised my mom he’d take her on her next visit). The super bonus was surprising Aunt Betty with the tickets because she is also a huge fan! The timing was perfect and it was a major highlight!

I also took them to do a few routine things my mom has missed out on; picking up Rubina from Kindergarten, tea parties at the dining room table, and Fall crafting with acorns. Aunt Betty and Tina went all in. They gave her the best “Grammy experience”, Aunt Betty and TT style, since my mom isn’t here to give her that unique, Grammy kind of love anymore.

Yes, the time spent celebrating my mom with them was somewhat sad. They too loved my momma so well and so deeply. But, it will also go down as two of my favorite days of all time because of the rise. Because of the asterisk-ing.


Let us take a cue from Aunt Betty and TT; I certainly plan to.


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