“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
This post is not an easy one to write, but in light of reflection this Good Friday and Easter weekend, I feel compelled to share.
I recently heard the tragic news that a friend from my childhood decided to take her own life. My heart breaks to think of what despair and hopelessness she must have felt that she believed that was her only option. I hadn’t seen her in years and it makes me wonder if I had talked to her recently, would I have seen her struggles? Would I have known that she needed help? I’m not sure that I would. Everyone who did see her recently said they thought she seemed happy and that she was doing well.
How many people do we meet daily who are struggling as she was but through our “polite” and brief conversations we are blinded to the true depths of the struggles they might be going through. We casually ask the checker in the checkout line how they are doing and we expect their response to be “fine” or “good”, but how many of us can truly say we ourselves always answer that question honestly? I wouldn’t expect anyone to tell a perfect stranger who asks that question that they are feeling hopeless in their circumstances. Many of us would not even share that kind of truth with our closest friends.
Therefore because of this, I believe we are called to even greater depths of love since we cannot always know the battles that people we meet and even our own friends are facing. We are called to “honor others above ourselves”, “be devoted to one another in love”, “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn”. Our love must be sincere. I need to remind myself of these things often. I can always do a better job of loving other people and I often fail at it. I fail to love the person in the checkout line, especially when they are moving slowly, I fail to love those “jerks” who cut me off in traffic. I fail to love the homeless man on the corner or the customer service person on the other end of the phone call. Sure I might still put on a polite smile to hide my annoyances, but am I showing love? I need to be constantly reminded that everyone I meet is fighting a hard battle. Life is not easy and it’s not always beautiful. There is sorrow and despair and brokeness all around us and when I’m reminded of this, it makes me want to love more deeply.
“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters…let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
-1 John 3: 16-18