I’m probably not allowed to quote what I’m about to quote. Oh well. It’s about to happen anyway.
Tonight while waiting for my husband to pick me up I was online popping around and I stumbled on some words in an article about grief that speak to exactly what I’m feeling this very moment. (The article is by John Pavlovitz and it’s an excellent piece on grief. Here is the link if you are interested: Everyone Around you is Grieving )
I’m going to paraphrase just a tiny bit to fit my own circumstance: “Unless anyone passing by looked deeply into my bloodshot eyes or noticed the occasional break in my voice and thought enough to ask, it’s not like they’d have known what’s happening inside me or around me. They wouldn’t have had any idea of the gaping sinkhole that had just opened up and swallowed the normally joyful person standing beside them.
And while I don’t want to physically wear my actual circumstances on my chest, it probably would cause people around me to speak softer or move more carefully and that would be a welcome and much needed change.”
Have you ever been walking around silently hoping someone would look at you and immediately say, “You look like you need to talk to someone. Here take my arm and let me listen.” At the same time you’re walking around hoping no one notices you are not yourself because you don’t want anyone to know just how weak and crumbly you are right now.
One minute you’re sitting amidst a group of people you deeply admire feeling cozy and full of love. You’re happy and grateful and feeling part of a larger community. Adjectives that come into the heart are “loving, hopeful, and home”.
An hour later your heart is in your throat, the tears won’t stop falling and you’re scanning the area for the exit doors -feeling anything but home. “Gaping sinkhole of reality, party of one, your table is ready.” For a minute you’re certain you cannot stand even one more microsecond of this world, but then God sends an angel into your heart who whispers, “you’re better than this.” and you carry on.
I often wonder what people might think it they knew the story of my life. What if they knew the sacrifices I have made; what I have endured; what I have overcome and what I have survived? What if we all knew the hidden stories of one another’s lives? Or rather, what if we actually took the time to look into one another’s faces for more than a passing glance? What if we actually started living by the Golden rule?
It’s taken my whole life to come to the realization that most people are genuinely not interested in hearing tales of woe. (Tales of woe in this case being what caused the tears that wouldn’t stop flowing, but you can insert your own issues.) In fact lately I find that even those whose careers are supposed to be about caring for others will go to great lengths to be unavailable. (Not that I have been seeking someone to hear me. I have not. I am only observing a sad reality.)
We have all seen the memes about being kind to one another because we don’t know what people are actually going through. Why don’t we? Shouldn’t we? Aren’t we supposed to be treating others as we would like to be treated? Aren’t we supposed to be there for one another?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.John 13:34
I wear a lot of hats, most of them having to do with some type of being in service to others. This is the life I’ve chosen for myself because I am happiest when I’m helping someone else, whether it’s through my work or something I do in secret. I enjoy being kind. I enjoy making others smile. I enjoy making a difference. Nothing ever stings as hard as condescension. It’s worse when something else is already on my heart taking up all the space.
And even though I can always see behind a person’s hurtful words, I never stop praying I don’t have to. I wouldn’t have to if more people recognized that we’re all flawed; we all have hidden stories; and we’re all fighting battles others no nothing about.
Kindness is free and believe me, God does see.
This is how we know what love is: Christ gave his life for us. We too, then, ought to give our lives for our brothers and sisters!
1 John 3:16 GNB
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.