The Nice List

President Zelenskyy of Ukraine gets my vote for the top spot on the 2022 nice list. I don’t know how nice he is, but he’s a tremendous example of courage. Rather than accepting safe passage out of the invaded country, he reportedly said, “I don’t need transportation. I need ammunition.”

Stetson Bennett, IV is on my list. Everyone loves to cheer for an underdog. It gets even sweeter when the underdog becomes the top dog. He didn’t fit the profile for a college quarterback in a powerhouse program like the University of Georgia. But he believed in himself and his coach gave him a chance.

For handing Stetson the ball, Kirby Smart is on my nice list. It wasn’t too long ago the Bulldogs’ head coach was regularly peppered with questions about his decision to stay with Bennett as the starter. Two national championships later, the scoreboards have boldly answered.

Bennett’s story reminds me that each of us has opportunities to help others reach their potential. Maybe they need a leg up in their career, trusted with more responsibility. Or it could be something as simple as a word of encouragement.

My mother was in Bleckley Memorial Hospital for rehab in August of 2022 due to a fractured sacrum. As I was visiting one day, a young lady came in to reintroduce herself. She thanked Mama for encouraging her during an earlier stay in 2017 when she was studying to become a physical therapist . “You told me I could do it,” she said with elation, “and I did!” 

Encouragement is something we can share daily. Maybe it’s a tired server waiting tables and living off tips that are never enough. Or it could be a frazzled store employee who doesn’t give us the service we expect. Instead of complaining, perhaps a kind word is what’s needed.

Sometimes there are situations in which I’m unsure what to say. That’s when I should borrow a line from John David Law. He’s a sturdy 89 year old who is still laying bricks because he enjoys his work. I don’t believe we’ve ever ended a conversation that he didn’t add, “You have a blessed day.” When a man with big calloused hands, an untamed beard, and a gentle smile tells you that, it’s impossible not to feel blessed.

Mr. Charles Speight, my oldest friend at 100, is another wonderful example of an encourager. I’ve not embraced turning 70 as well as I should, yet at 30 years my senior Mr. Charles brings cheerfulness to every conversation. A number of times he’s told me something that no doubt has been shared with others. “Thank you for being my friend.” It warms my heart coming from a man who is loved and admired by many.  

Allison Bowen and the volunteers at Open Hearts Thrift Store are all on my nice list for helping those in need. They accept donated clothing and household items, make them affordable to purchase, then use the profits for benevolent causes.

All the folks at The Lord’s Pantry made my list for their many years of service and generosity. A lot of families have better meals on their tables because of them. “Give us this day our daily bread,” is prayed in earnest more often than is obvious.   

Tony Turner gets a spot for organizing multiple handicap-ramp projects. He leads the Saturday efforts of a few skilled volunteers and patiently supervises others whose primary attribute is availability.

The volunteers of Daybreak Pregnancy Care Center easily qualified for inclusion. I don’t recall where I heard the slogan, but years ago a plea from some charity was, “Give so others may live.” That describes the work which Daybreak does.     

There’s no way to name everyone who deserves to be on the 2022 nice list, not even the ones within walking distance of my home. My hope is that those who read today’s column might be prompted to thank people who are consistently on the giving end of life. If you want to do something more, there are ongoing needs for funds, volunteers, and prayers. 

As I close today’s nice list I’m aware of its incompleteness. My hope is that it may prompt some expressions of gratitude and perhaps lead to personal involvement. None of us can do everything, but all of us can do something..

I’ll end these rambling musings with two borrowed expressions that aren’t mine but come from my heart. “Have a blessed day. Thank you for being my friend.”   

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7 Responses to The Nice List

  1. ab says:

    Thank you Neil for sharing these thoughts and thank you for being my friend. I am feeling blessed today.


  2. Linda Hobbs says:

    Enjoyed this article Neil! You are definitely one of the kindest and encouraging person I know! I am reading this at Navicent in Macon waiting for Gloy to wake up from heart cath. It is an encouraging article! They all are!


  3. George says:

    Another really good article Neil. You are on my “nice list” as well as many others that I know. I have witnessed some comments like you at various places. Every time I purchase something at Dollar Tree, the cashier always says have a “Blessed Day”. And by the way, it is not always the same cashier.


  4. Melanie says:

    This is one of your best yet! Your name should be included in that list. You have always gone above and beyond in all you do. I am thankful for your friendship.


  5. davidlhardegreegmailcom says:

    I do not know where the following originated, but – Everyone needs encouragement; a pat on the back is good for a person’s backbone.


  6. Ellen Hunsucker says:

    Wonderful advice in this exceptional article! Loved the ending! I agree with George and Melanie, you definitely belong on the Nice list! Your life has always been about encouraging and helping others.


  7. Rob Braswell says:

    Neil, thank you for the encouraging article (as they all are) and the friendly reminder to encourage, assist and serve others. Having you and Jane as friends are two of the many, many blessings for which I am extremely grateful!


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