if we can't live together...

12.17.2012

This weekend was a weird one.  There were some fun times, but I feel like the whole weekend was covered with a black cloud of sadness after the horrible shootings in Connecticut. I haven't been able to stop thinking about the children, the parents, the families. I haven't been able to stop picturing the massacre and the horror that must have permeated that day. My heart has been aching for those families more than I imagined it ever could, and as a result, I have been very very emotional, which usually leads to internal soul searching and then writing about it. It has helped me to write about the things I've been thinking about, so my blog may be a little more serious for a little while. This tragedy has made me solemn and sad.

This Christmas season, we have been trying to focus more on Christ and his birth. I was sitting in church one day and was thinking about what Christmas really means. All of a sudden, an idea popped into my head. I split Christmas into two words: Christ   Mas.  And I started laughing. Because a long time ago, a friend and I used to always say "Uno Mas!", or "One More!". It was from of a movie we used to watch and love.
I don't speak Spanish, but all of a sudden it clicked. I thought, " Mas=More. Mas....Christ.  More...Christ. MORE CHRIST! What a sneaky little trick! Christmas is all about MORE Christ!" And because of that weird little realization, every time I hear the word Christmas, I always think, More Christ in the same sentence. Because that is exactly what Christmas is.

Dale and I have tried to incorporate Christ's message of loving and serving others into our hearts this holiday season and so that has really been on my mind. As I was thinking about what this meant to me today, I remembered a little experience I had a while ago.

Last week, I had been running errands with my Vivian girl. We got home and I had a million bags in my car and an ornery baby who needed to take a nap. As I got out of my car, a couple in my parking lot caught my eye. They were pushing a little girl in a stroller and smoking something that probably wasn't a cigarette. They were arguing with each other and quite frankly looked pretty rough. I'm used to rough looking people in my neighborhood, so I averted my eyes and tried to ignore their rough talk. As I got Vivian out of her car seat and started layering all of the heavy grocery bags up and down my arms, I heard the lady yelling at the man next to her. I looked over and they were looking at me, so I looked away and continued the balancing act of getting all of my groceries in the house with one trip (I hate taking more than one trip!). All of a sudden I hear the lady say, "Go help her! Go! Go help that lady!". So I look around, and the rough looking guy is coming towards me, presumably to help me with my bags.

I am ashamed to say that a million negative thoughts rushed through my head. Thoughts ranging from, Oh crap, do I really want to let this guy know where I live? to Where is that pepper spray I used to have? and Should I really let him in my house? He'll probably rob it later.

But there was nothing I could do. The man came up and kindly shook my hand. He told me his name and took my groceries from me. He carried them all up to my apartment for me, all the while telling me about his niece and the daughter that he used to have that died. He was kind and polite, and after he dropped my groceries onto my table, he shook my hand, said he was very happy to be able to help me, and left.

As he left, tears sprang to my eyes and I felt ashamed about judging that guy. I felt sorrow for the life he must have been living and the devastating sadness he must have felt when he lost his daughter. I felt humbled by his kindness and sincerity. I vowed that I would not judge someone else just by their outward appearance. Because really, you just never know what someone has been through or is going through. You never know what has happened to them during their lifetime.

And because of this and other experiences in my life lately, I have been thinking a lot about the hard things that happen to each of us and how they affect us.

I realized that everyone, without exception, is going through something. I realized this in striking clarity. I think it's human nature to sometimes look at a person and think they have it all together, especially in the perfectly coiffed blog world we live in. We think they have the perfect life with the perfect family. The perfect clothes and the perfect hair with a well-decorated house and a charming, witty personality to top it all off. We look at the bright side they are portraying and admire them for it, not even thinking that maybe they are going through something heartbreaking. We compare their outward public face to our darkest secrets and hardest trials and think, I wish my life could be like theirs.

Sometimes, I think we can dislike someone so much because they are "perfect". Sometimes we take offense to things they say or don't say, or do or don't do. Sometimes we hate a person because we think that nothing is going wrong in their lives and are jealous of the life we think they have. Sometimes, we even look at people less fortunate than us and judge them by their outward appearances. We judge them by the circumstances they find themselves in and think that they probably deserve it. That they probably chose to live they way that they do.

But lately, I have been painfully aware that, both with the "perfect" people that I admire and the other "perfect" people that I find reasons to not like, that everyone is going through something hard. Everyone is grieving. Everyone is struggling. Everyone is having a hard time with something.

And you know what? That rough-looking guy who helped me with my groceries? Well, I saw him at church yesterday. And gave him a hug. That's what judging people will do to you. It will kick you right in the knees and make you humble again.

So, I have learned two things that have changed my perspective on life:

Even though I may not know specifics, I can assume that everyone around me is hurting to one degree or another. And because I know this, I can be kind. I can be kind to everyone around me. I can try to ease their burden by smiling or saying a kind word. I can look for opportunities to serve them. I can choose not to be offended by something they say, because maybe whatever they're dealing with has made them have a bad day. I can be more aware of the signs people give, and I can make myself available to them; to talk, to hug or to offer support in any way I can.

I know these lessons because often, this is what people have done for me. Sometimes, I look at the trials that we deal with in my little family and think, I bet people would be shocked to know that we are dealing with this right now. Because isn't that how it always is? I bet that if everyone laid their raw secrets and trials out in the open, all of us would gasp in surprise at learning what each of us is dealing with without anyone even knowing. Now, I don't mean that I want to know about people's dirty laundry and all the gossip that would be sure to air from it. All I'm trying to say is that I think we would be very surprised to learn what people close to us are actually dealing with.

I for one, am grateful for the people around me that listen to their feelings and follow promptings  The people that smile, say hello, or help in ways that may seem tiny and insignificant to them, but to me, may have changed my whole day, week or month for the better.

Life is hard. The world is filled with sadness, hardships and evil.
But life is also so very beautiful. There are good and kind people everywhere. There is good in all of us. We are in this together. We can give each other a chance. We can love those around us. We can serve our friends and neighbors, and even our enemies. We can look for the good in those we think we have nothing in common with. We can try to always assume the good intentions of people. We can try to look on the bright side.

Because, to quote a famous line from Jack Shepherd's beautiful mouth in LOST:
 "If we can't live together, we're gonna die alone."

Merry Christmas. Or MasChrist. Or More Christ. However you want to look at it.

7 comments:

  1. Thanks for this post. You're such a great writer, and always know how to express what you're feeling. I am continually learning lessons like these over and over.Thats funny that to top it all off you saw him at church!

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  2. This is my favorite post you've ever written. And that's seriously saying something.

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  3. LOVE THIS POST!! Well said my friend :)
    Definitely something I needed to be reminded of so thanks for sharing.

    Merry More-Christ to you too! Love ya!

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  4. This is something so important that we should think about each day! Thank you for writing this.
    xo Dina
    Sweetest Somethings

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  5. love you Elyse - you are a wise spirit - a blessing to me.

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  6. Well said Elyse! Love that you are willing to share your personal thoughts - we learn so much from each other.

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  7. my mom took the words right out of my mouth...well said. thank you for sharing xoxo

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