read this post over at Brave Girls. It made me cry. I related. I thought. I cried.
One time, a long time ago... my husband worked at Inkley's. I was going to visit him at work, and for some reason the traffic was ridiculous that day. I waited in the left turn lane, with a parking spot right there in my sight, for what seemed like forever. It was the only parking spot on the road, and I was signaling, showing it was mine. When it looked like traffic was about to clear, someone turned right, right into my spot. I was so mad. I flipped around on the road, had to drive a block away and walk to the store. Couldn't they see that I had been waiting and signaling for that spot?
Then, I walk into the store, and a man comes up to me and says "I am so sorry, I didn't realize that you were there until after I had already pulled in." I forgave him immediately, but the real lesson came later... he had come into Inkley's to bring photos to be developed. Photos of his wife and newborn baby... his wife, who had died right after childbirth just days before.
I could not believe that I had even had one thought of anger. When his whole life had been ripped apart, turned upside down... I had been worried about a parking space. A parking space! I would have stood there for the whole day saving it for him, if I had known. But that's the thing... so often we don't know. We don't even have the blessing of finding out after the fact what "sign" a person might be wearing most of the time. We just judge, treat harshly, and think of ourselves.
I've had my own struggles... times where I smile to everyone, but I am wondering how I'm going to make it through the next day... times where my pillow is wet from crying and I can't sleep, where my fears are so great that I can't breathe. Times where I wish somebody could really know what I'm going through and not say things that make everything that much harder... even when they have no intention of hurt. I'm willing to bet that more of us are struggling in private than any of us will ever know. We can't share everything... we don't want to share everything... but wouldn't that make the world a little kinder, easier place if we just knew when gentleness was needed?
Here's my challenge for myself... to remember that there is never a time when gentleness isn't needed. Yes, it's that simple, yet so complex. I will do my best... will you?
What signs are you wearing right now? You can share anonymously... I think the more we realize that so many are going through such real struggles, the more compassion we will have for each other.