This week I have been thinking a lot about feeling blessed, gratitude, thankfulness, and being there for others when they are struggling even if what they are struggling with is difficult understand or relate to.
You see over the past several years our family has been the one on the journey of struggles in many ways. We know that what we have struggled with, especially my personal journey of healing from childhood sexual abuse, has not been easy for others to grasp, accept, or support.
What I have found most interesting about this journey are two things:
#1 Difficulties change us for the better if we let them.
#2 People you thought you knew show their true colors when you fall, struggle, or are laid low to you lowest point.
Friends you thought you once had seem to disappear. Before you know it, you are left as a family looking at each other wondering if life will ever be the same? or Are you really awful people? or Are people really so judgmental?
In my life experience over the past seven years I can honesty say that human beings are some of the most judgmental creatures on this planet!
UNTIL you have to wear the shoes and try to walk the road you judged so harshly or all too knowingly.
I can say this because I use to sit as a judge of others far too easily. I came from a family of judgers. It was ingrained in me. When I think back on it I cringe. I am not proud of that quality.
Starting seven years ago, however, I had to put on the shoes and walk the road myself.
What I learned is NEVER judge what you see another human going through. Even if you are good friends, do not assume you have it all figured out because what you are seeing is most likely only the tip of the iceberg that precious life is carrying. You can never know the full impact of something on someones life unless you are that person.
I don't care who they are or if it appears that person is bringing their circumstance on themselves. There is always something someone is going through, has been through, and in some cases that person may not even know or understand the reasons and whys themselves!
Stop judging! It is easy to say. Harder to do.
The friends and family I have left behind on this journey often thought they had it all figured out sadly. That my little family, that I, made bad choices, didn't try hard enough, or we must have done something terribly wrong in our lives; justice was being served. So some of these "friends" and family walked away. Left us without support. Some of these "friends" and family we walked away from because they were toxic, unloving, and unsupportive.
It's like a refining process of sorts.
What I have learned is people will always judge. What I have learned is how it feels to be at the receiving end of that judging. What it feels like to be excluded because people just don't understand what you are facing, why you have changed, and some just plain don't like change.
I am sharing this all because I want more people to realize, judging someone is NOT why we are here. It is not my job to decide if someone is living the way I think they should. It is not anyone's business to talk about someone else and their situation in a way that elevates the speaker.
We are all equal regardless of of the environment we find ourselves in. By choice or unforeseen circumstances.
While I don't believe our journey is predestined, it certainly does flow like a river. A river can change and grow with time and circumstance. We can not control it. We can only keep moving forward within the area that the river flows. We can not change the main direction the river wants to go.
So we need to learn from one another and support each other. If a friend falls do not pat them on the back and say,"Wow, that's to bad, well see ya later!" walking away thinking you have been a good friend. Believe me it has happened to me more times than I care to recall! I myself use to do that very thing.
Lift a fellow life up and support them as they struggle.
You know what the amazing thing is? Those of us who have walked this path of struggle are not looking for anyone to fix anything or say anything profound! All I wanted was to know I mattered to someone somewhere, that people believed in me still as a human being, that someone would just sit with me and wait it out.
Nobody has all of the answers or knows better than another person. We are all unique. Very rarely do we find a one size fits all answer to any given tragedy or difficulty in life. How someone needs to get through to the other side of the fire is unique unto them...EVERY TIME.
So I am growing in my art of not judging.
I ask myself things like:
Where is the harm in feeling for someone's situation? Instead of saying, 'oh you silly person don't you know better?'.
Where is the harm in buying that homeless person a cup of coffee or a sandwich? Instead of thinking, 'Get a job already!'
Where is the harm in putting myself in an uncomfortable conversation for someone who is hurting from a trauma they endured, the death of a loved one, or terminal illness because they need a listening ear? Instead of saying,'Call me if you need anything.' or thinking, 'This is to awkward for ME.' (Think how awkward it must be for THEM to be bearing this circumstance alone!)
Where is the harm in sitting with someone to let them release and cry or even cry with them? Instead of thinking ,"Gee they are really upset I better walk away."
My art is to quit shutting myself off to the emotions of life. The struggles of those I see around me enduring. It serves no one to deaden our hearts and numb our feelings. It perpetuates a dysfunctional cycle to shut ourselves off to the humanity we live and those around us live. Does this mean I will be able to buy every homeless person a coffee or cry with every person hurting?
I will do my best to smile at a person, give them a hug, include people who I know are having a struggle so they do not turn to isolation and feel like they don't matter.
I will fill my heart with good things and think of others so I can practice giving to those who are in need of support.
Within my own life I will be sure I speak in a positive way about others
I will be the example for my children so they can grow to be people who care about others and not just people who say, 'too bad' and walk on by, if it is in their power to do something even if it is only a smile.
I am not saying I have this all figured out. I am by no means perfect. I will try to continue to change, grow and follow the course of life where it flows, with a loving heart for myself and those around me who need the acceptance and love of a fellow human being. After all isn't that a basic of all emotional needs? To belong, to be accepted, and to be loved?