Everyone has untold stories of pain hurt and sadness that make them love and live a little differently than you do…try to understand. – Anonymous
Mornings suck. Especially when you have to get three kids ready and take them to school. Kid #1 gets dropped off at the high school and if we make it before the usual traffic, Kid #2 and #3 may get to their school on time…maybe.
So I’m in that school drop off traffic and you know how it is when you’re more than a little anxious for the cars to JUST MOVE. And of course, there’s always that one idiot in front of you who can’t be bothered to drop off their kid in the circle. Oh no. They have to stop in the middle of the road, and not even at a cross walk. I feel my jaw starting to clench as a teen boy ever so very slow makes his way out of the car.
“Just drop me off at the corner, Mom,” my daughter tells me. “I’ll jump out faster than this guy.”
“No kidding,” I mumble as the teen boy starts his stroll across the street with that familiar sleep-deprived expression of most teens. I can’t help but announce to my car load of kids,
“You know, it’s really annoying when people just stop in the middle of the road and hold up traffic, and then their kid just saunters across the road.” That’s when I noticed that the boy had a slightly odd gait.
“Dude, mom, that boy had cancer in his leg,” informs my daughter, and then zings me in her lovely teen, know-it-all tone, “Don’t you feel bad now?”
“Hold on. Are you serious?”
“Yeah. He’s in my English class and he told us the story about how he’s lucky to be alive,” she flippantly states and she bolts out of the car door and races across the street (at the crosswalk, mind you.)
Well shit. As a matter of fact I do feel bad. I was so caught up in my busy morning that I automatically assumed the person in front of me was being inconsiderate. I didn’t stop to consider that this parent had faced a struggle I can only shiver about: watching your child face death squarely in the face. I didn’t think that maybe that boy was being dropped off nearer to his classroom so he could save up his energy for the day ahead.
And the real reason why I felt bad is because this wasn’t the first time I had learned this lesson and I knew it would likely only stay with me for the next day – two weeks if I was lucky. And then I’d go back to forgetting that each person I come into contact with has pain and struggles to deal with. Perhaps it’s the sadness of a failing marriage. Maybe its fear and confusion connected to being sexually attacked. Or maybe it’s a smile that disguises a depression so deep, the person is just moments away from calling it quits. I’m not going to know most of the struggles, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t honor and give the benefit of the doubt to every soul struggling mightily under his or her burden.
We must dare to be understanding of others, even when we don’t know the specifics of their hurt, and even if it’s a stranger lashing out because of some great, but hidden suffering of their own. No, we can’t run our lives catering to other people’s hurts (and as a life-long people pleaser, I know this all too well), but we can give them empathy. We can set aside our own ego and value the bravery in others. Cause it takes courage to live this life, damn it. Especially when you’re getting ready in the morning.