I have noticed how so many of us focus on what separates us. It is easy to do. We see a mom feeding her child a hot dog...gasp. We see a friend struggling to keep their heat on so they give up the family pet...what!? We meet a family with a different belief system than ours...we distance ourselves. The news tells us about another child being bullied...we sigh in horror. Yet at dinner we openly speak ill of our neighbor. Why is it so easy? Why do we fall into this trap?
I have to say it haunts me. I literally have trouble sleeping because I allow this to tear at my heart. I am blown away by people who call themselves friends but drip venom behind backs. I am appalled at those who claim Christianity, yet openly judge those around them. I am torn by families who say they want equality, and yet treat one another differently. I look at myself, my children and see our downfalls...failings. How can we be better at this? If we want our children to create a world of hope and promise, then why are we attacking one another?
My close friends always tell me I take things to heart. And it is true. I know what I say matters, and what others hear is important. We can't throw words around and not expect others to hear them. My mom always told us, "You should mean what you say and say what you mean. Otherwise just keep quiet!" Yet I see people and myself say, type, and throw words out that were not contemplated. And maybe they are. Maybe the intention was hurtful or biased. But then if it was, how can we look to these people as role models, or leaders? One word said in anger has a ripple effect. It can reach farther than intended.
I will be the first to admit what leaks out of my mouth some days is poison. I honestly hate having a body that is failing me. I want to scream most days at everyone who crosses my path. Not out of anger, not because I think they do not get it....simply because the roar of pain in my head is louder than their voice. But do you know why I do not scream? Their words, their love, their heart at trying to be there for me. I hear people say....but they just do not understand! My response....so help them to understand! I do not understand hundreds of people I come into contact with. But that is what makes life so amazing and unpredictable! It makes our life an adventure of stories woven together.
When I first met Tim's aunt I did not understand her. She has developmental disabilities and honestly I was ok with just loving her from a distance. Horrible right? Yet very human. Then I sat next to her more. I asked her questions. I held her hand when I took her shopping. I looked at pics when she was a little girl. I listened to her mom praise and love on her. And I fell in love with her too. I wanted the best for her and I wanted her to be happy. Sadly I can't be a huge part of her life, but I made sure she had those around her who could be. I do not know what runs through her mind, or how she truly sees the world. I do know we have a connection, and it is important.
Growing up we had countless foster children who came and lived with us. Each one brought their own story and life experience. Many of their stories were awful. I remember as a kid thinking, "Wow I am super glad I have my family!" And yet some of these kids dreamed, prayed, and begged to go back home. I remember thinking they were nuts! Why would they want to go back? One time I asked one of them. She was little but her response was, "because it is home." I thought for a minute a realized her idea of home and my idea were different. But she did not think it was wrong to want her home. Something about it gave her comfort or belonging. I really have no way of knowing why or understanding. But I did not need to fully understand. I could love on her, play with her, and be there for a short time. That is what mattered.
Today I laid in bed most of the day. My head was a mass of pain. My sweet kids read stories to me, rubbed my hands, and loved me. As I lay there, the beautiful inspiration of others lives flooded my brain. I could hear the prayers of others for me, the love of their words wishing us hope, and their sweetness surrounding us. They do not need to walk a mile in my shoes to understand because they are willing to be an encouragement in anyway they can. Reading an uplifting quote, hearing a friend's laughter, or having a text sent my way in love is beyond a blessing. I treasure these things and it gives me hope. It reminds me for every bad attitude, I can find ten good ones. A positive word uttered in love is a blessing whether the person walks my journey or their own. Because really do any of us travel the same road? It is when those roads meet that we see our friends.