Previously published on 10/24/2012
Have you ever been in line at the grocery store and the cashier seems distracted and slow to process your transaction? Have you ever been snapped at by someone at work for simply asking a question? Or, maybe, on your Sunday drive to church you were cut off by an angry or aggressive driver. How did you respond?
How did you imagine you would respond in each of those scenarios? Would you have been patient to the grocery cashier, or would you have responded in frustration? Would you have snapped back at your co-worker or yelled at the angry driver?
Would it change your response if you knew that the cashier was waiting for the news of a biopsy and wondering how she would manage the medical bills if her worst fears were confirmed? Or, would you have more compassion with your co-worker if you knew she had recently lost her son in a tragic accident? Or, what about the aggressive driver? What if you knew he was on his way to the hospital in hopes of reaching his mother’s bedside in her final moments? Would you respond differently?
Unfortunately, people don’t walk around with signs around their neck that say “Worried”, “Grieving”, or “Scared to Death”. Instead, as humans, we retreat to hide the truth or we deflect or attack those who get too close to it. When we are scared or wounded, our natural reflex is to hide or wound in return. Maybe if we remembered that truth about our humanity, we would have more compassion for one another.
The Greek philosopher Plato said, “Be kind; for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”. And, the Dalai Lama said, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible”. And, the Gospel of Luke says it in an even more direct way, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Luke 6:31). If you were walking through a hard time, how would you want to be treated? Treat others in that way.
So, I try to take a step back and see if I can see past the façade into the battle on the other side. I try to remember that it’s not always about me and that the other person may be fighting the battle of his or her life. And, so I try to be kind; always be kind.
What about you? Who in your life is hiding or coming on too strong? Maybe you can find a way to show some extra grace or compassion this week. It may be just the healing they need.