They have no idea (and neither do I)

I learned a concept about 3 years ago that changed me quite a bit:  I have no idea what is going on in the lives of the people around me.  Seems obvious, but its not.  I think that we all feel we can safely assume things about people’s lives based on what we see and our keen sense of ‘knowing it all’.  We label, we categorize, we stereotype.  But as I said, I truly learned this concept when several instances took place where I just could not figure out why certain people were doing certain things.  I came to the logical conclusion that that must just be who they are and I wasn’t sure that a friendship was worth it.  Then I discovered the real issue.  It was different with each instance but the truth was the same — their lives were falling apart and big issues were overtaking them and THAT is why they were doing the things that they were doing.  It took on a whole different light once I saw the whole story.

The problem is that we RARELY get the whole story.  Not just with strangers in passing but sometimes with dear friends.  Sometimes we can get bits and pieces and put it together like a regular Sherlock Holmes — other times the story falls in our lap and we get the A-ha moment of finally figuring it all out.  But most times we have no idea.

So I learned this lesson as I said 3 years ago and have made a very conscious effort ever since then to judge less – to look on someone who rubs me wrong and wonder if they are in need – to be more alert for how I can reach out.

And then I went walking through Wal-Mart one day and was on the other end of that rope.

See, it was Peyton’s 9th birthday and we were having 3 girlfriends over for a sleepover.  I was getting last minute cupcakes and goodies for the party before getting the kids from school.  My time was short since I had just come from the hospital and we had signed the paperwork to move my mom to hospice care the next day.  Hospice care is not in itself a hastening of death but in mom’s case it was, since what was sustaining her were IV fluids and protein.  She wasn’t eating or drinking on her own at that point.  We were draining so much fluid from her abdomen daily that once those fluids stopped coming in she would dehydrate very quickly.  The time would be short.

I walked with my cart a little slower than usual that day even though I was in a hurry and it felt like the world was passing me by in slow motion.  Every person that walked by I stared right into their eyes and thought “They have no idea my mom is dying.”  I had a cart full of cupcakes and fancy paper plates and to everyone there I seemed party-bound.  And I was….but I wasn’t.  The checkout girl did small talk with me and I had to work hard not to say “But my mom may die tomorrow.”  The Girl Scouts selling cookies on my way out had no idea.  When I got the scowl and fist from a lady at the busy intersection I thought “if she knew that I signed paperwork today to help put an end to my mom’s misery would she give me a little more slack for not running a late yellow?”

It shook me up being on the other end of it.  While the lesson 3 yrs ago taught me not to judge hastily and have mercy, this lesson taught me to have grace.  Grace with those who may react harshly (or indifferent) to me or others simply because they don’t know.  Maybe they haven’t learned the lesson yet.  Or maybe, like me, they did once and just need a reminder.

So this post is anything but a pity party for me — its a very real reminder that we truly have no idea.  We all can stand to show a little extra grace and mercy without knowing the full story, and we should all lay off on the fists and scowls. 🙂

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Published in: on April 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love you amy

  2. So good, and so true! Thanks for sharing!


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