“Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.” (Attributed to like 3 different people, so who knows who said it?)
This quote has been on my my mind for a couple of weeks. It's a pretty popular one, so I am sure you have seen/heard it before, but sometimes quotes like this inspire for only a short time, and then the moment passes.
It really hit me the weekend before last that I need to remember it and apply it. That I need to be better about extending grace. Two specific encounters happened that made me realize that I am a bit of a hypocrite.
Scenerio #1: My Manfriend, brother, SIL, some friends, and I were at a table on a crowded outside bar patio on a sunny Saturday afternoon. My Manfriend had just left for a meeting so we had an open chair. I looked up and saw a guy standing there looking like he was looking for a seat, or searching for someone he was meeting. He was kind of "in the way" of the wait staff and kept bobbing and weaving to stay out of their way. He looked uncomfortable standing in the middle of the chaos, and almost looked nervous. So, I asked him if he wanted to take a seat at our empty chair. I let him know that we would all be leaving in a few and that he could have the table if he wanted it, and then we chatted for 5-10 minutes. The reason I went out of my way to make this guy comfortable though, is because he was physically disabled. He didn't have arms that were a traditional length. One hand looked as if it had grown out of his shoulder, and the elbow on the other arm was permanently bent and seemed to be paralyzed so he couldn't extend it. As soon as I saw him I thought of how much more difficult every day things must be for him. Just getting dressed and driving over to the bar for starters. Being able to SEE a bit into the "battles" that he must regularly face compelled me to extend kindness to him. Don't be impressed too soon. I'm a jackass...
Scenerio #2: Fast forward to the next day, I am at church. Yes, I was a jackass in church. I was sitting in my seat and this girl (maybe in her mid 20's) and her boyfriend came down my row to find a seat. So, I moved my purse, stood up, leaned back, and made room for them. She walked by and did not even say "thank-you" or "excuse me". Well, I made up in my mind right then and there that she was a snooty pain-in-the-ass (yes, I came to that conclusion in 2 seconds... and, as I may have mentioned... in church). I shouldn't leave out that she was pretty, totally skinny, dressed to the nines, accessorized with designer jewelry and bag, and looked all around annoyingly beautiful and "perfect". I judged her IM-MEDIATLEY... and the verdict was not a positive one. Then... the service. It was about struggle, fortitude, and remembering God in all that we do. Living the example of Jesus. The "perfect" skinny chick two seats down from me was crying; and I don't mean your average kind of cry (I cry at 90% of the services I go to, but in a good way). She was bawling, uncontrollably. My heart broke. I had NO idea what she was crying about, but there was a battle she was fighting for sure and I had NO idea what it was. And then... (after I felt shame for being an asshole) it hit me... “Be kinder than necessary, for EVERYONE you meet is fighting some kind of battle.”
Why is it so easy to extend kindness, withhold judgement, and extend grace to people when you THINK that they have it "harder" than you, but MUCH more difficult to do if you PERCEIVE that they have it better (a.k.a - easier) than you? I see it all of the time. People around me who "look" perfect, but they are going through it.... health issues, old wounds they battle with, broken relationships, lost dreams, heartbreak, financial crisis, martial difficulties, fertility issues, a lack of confidence, job loss, paralyzing insecurities, unplanned pregnancies, fear, anxiety, debt, difficulties being a parent, etc. When I KNOW that someone is having a hard time, or doing "battle" in their life, I have empathy for them, sympathy, patience, grace, mercy, etc. BUT... when I don't know, I just assume that everything is hunky-dory and for some reason that gives me the "right" to judge them?? That's kind of jacked up, right? It's not fair. Not everyone is SUPPOSED to know your demons, but that does not mean they do not exist.
Anyway... I don't know why I felt compelled to "share" all of that just now, BUT... maybe you do the same thing, and if you do, maybe you (like me) should slow your role and be nicer to people... even young, skinny, well-dressed woman who you kind of want to hate because you're an asshole.
Hey... what can I say? I am a work in progress.