We are suffering.
Not just we as in me and my family and the people in my circle of family and friends but everyone in the world is suffering. Some of us suffer in silence. Others suffer and share their suffering privately. Others endure their afflictions in a very public way because of the nature of their professions or just because the media thinks they are a story worth clicks and views.
Our trials may be trifling to the casual observer but to us the issues we face in our lives are very real and unmistakable. So when someone deems them trivial we feel invalidated, mocked and inadequate. In extreme cases we might feel inept, despondent and worthless.
How often do we recognize people who are grasping for something but fall short and need a little help? Have you ever been in a situation where a little act of kindness could have made the difference in someone’s day or life but we stopped short of giving our encouragement for one reason or another?
Yesterday I had the chance to have a little fun with colleagues from work. We were in a happy place. No it was not Disneyland but it was one of those places where smiles and laughter are the norm and there’s very rarely a forlorn soul.
I was enjoying the afternoon in a go-cart when I noticed a young girl, probably fifteen or sixteen in the car next to me sitting quietly in the car next to me. I never would have noticed her from the rest of the teenagers in the park except for one obvious exception that stood out the moment she reached for the steering wheel and the sleeves of her shirt slid down from her wrists to rest at her elbows and I immediately felt compassion for her.
The small scars were about an inch in length and extended the length of her forearms like the notches a shipwreck survivor would place on a tree to tell them how many days they had survived. Before she caught me staring I looked away, my mind drifting away despite the roar of two dozen go-carts revving up for a few fun-filled laps around the track.
I found myself asking, ‘What would cause a beautiful young woman to do that to herself?’
I sensed someone staring at me and realized that the girl was looking directly at me. Had she noticed that I had been staring at her? Did she know that I had seen the damage she had done to herself?
I was surprised when she asked, “Are you okay?”
I recovered quickly and shot back, “I’ll be better once I beat you in this race.” I smiled, wondering if it looked as awkward as it felt.
“Yeah, good luck with that,” she beamed as she sped off and left me inhaling exhaust.
Round and round I went. My colleagues and I coaxing each other to get kicked out of the small amusement park as the teenager running the joint blew his whistle furiously to keep us in check. The elation of the moment helped me forget life if only for a moment. But as we rounded the corner I felt a nudge from my right and nearly spun out as a car pushed me into the metal running boards that helped keep the cars on the track as the teenage girl sped past and coasted back into the pit.
“Good luck next time,” she said as we all exited the go-cart raceway.
“Yeah, you got lucky,” was the only retort I could muster but this time my smile was indisputable and her smile made my day because for that moment she was not sad. I wondered how long the happiness would last. I wondered how long it would be before the survivor in her would put another notch in her skin.
“You know that girl?” someone asked.
“Nah, just a kid who likes to put an old guy in his place.”
“You’re one friendly guy.”
“I wish that were true,” I said as we walked back indoors.
The truth is, I do need to be friendlier. I need to be more approachable, kinder and more thoughtful. I may not have made a difference in that young girl’s life but I truly believe that if we as a society showed more compassion towards others and were more genuine in our expressions of love towards all people this world would be a better place.
And if those of us who are recipients of love were more accepting and showed more gratitude for the service rendered by others it might make it easier for others to be more accommodating.
The Beatles once taught us:
No one you can save that can’t be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
All you need is love
Love is all you need
And one of the greatest teachers taught us this:
“No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.” (1 John 4:12)
So here’s a challenge for you that I’ve tried to take upon myself – in every moment, in every day there is occasion to show love for someone you may not normally give. Don’t let that moment escape you. Cease it and do your absolute best to be a blessing to someone who needs it.
Love is all you need.