For the last post you were blessed with a respite from yours truly as eldest Son Matt filled this space. His words impacted me and made me think about how I view others. We really don’t know what baggage others are carrying. Here are Matt’s comments about an unwilling conversation he had on a plane with a guy who just needed to talk.
He starts it. The conversation begins with small talk. I am an unwilling, tired, frustrated twenty something that doesn’t want to talk about jobs, hometowns, or those small talk things that fill gaps in between awkward silences as I try to return to Velvet Elvis or Backpacker or Sports Illustrated only to be interrupted again. He rambles some more about life and love and all the things I don’t want to talk about. A tear wells in his eye. Divorce. Kids. Lost jobs. Bankruptcy. Grace. Forgiveness. Redemption. Hope. I was wrong. He was carrying a lot. My backpack had some books and magazines but he is lugging a broken life. He was carrying it in his heart, soul, mind…and he needed to let someone know. I couldn’t see it. I didn’t even ask. Did I even care?
How often do I judge others with no consideration for what they are going through? Recording artist Sawyer Brown has a song that describes this sad trait of our fallen nature. The video for the song They Don’t Understand is powerful. The lyrics speak to me and my amazing ability to center my universe around…me.
Everybody’s busy with their own situation
Everybody’s lost in their own little world
Bottled up, hurried up trying to make a dream come true
They don’t understand
Everybody’s living like there ain’t no tomorrow
Maybe we should stop and take a little time
‘Cause you never really know what your neighbors going through
They don’t understand
Joni and I are learning a lot from her cancer journey. Now that she is follicly challenged she has told me that part of the adjustment is getting used to the feeling that people are looking at her. One of the t-shirts that I found when writing about the unlikely topic of cancer humor earlier this week came to mind.
The t-shirt simply says….”Don’t Stare…Say a Prayer!” I found the story of the t-shirt and how to buy it. Here is an excerpt from the site.
“This store is a joint project masterminded by 9 year old Ryan Howard and implemented with the assistance of The Sean Berkley Foundation. Ryan is a 9 year old boy battling a brain tumor. After surgery and chemotherapy, young Ryan has lost his hair. He came up with the phrase “Don’t Stare…Say a Prayer” one evening while he was out to eat with his family and noticed people staring at him. These simple words from such a young man echo the emotions and feelings of everyone affected by a life altering sickness. All proceeds from sales of Ryan Boy items will be split 50-50 between The Ryan Howard Fund and The Sean Berkley Foundation.”
We tend to stare or uncomfortably avert our eyes when we seen people affected like Ryan. How about praying for the grace to look them in the eye, smile, and warmly greet them like every other person you meet. And then silently say a prayer. You may need that grace extended sooner than you know. Sawyer Brown gives us the basis for trying to understand and be graceful about what others are going through. It started at Calvary.
A man hanging on a wooden cross
Giving everything to save the lost
Everybody’s staring not knowing what he’s goin through
Somebody said you don’t have a prayer
If your a king come on down from there
The man just turned his head looked up and stared
He said please forgive them for they have not seen the light
they’ll come to know me when i come back to life
Go to heaven to make everything alright
So please forgive your children, they don’t understand
Please do forgive us Lord. We don’t understand. But by the power of your Holy Spirit can you help us to try?