When people look at you, they don’t assume all the problems or issues that you are dealing with. Empathy isn’t natural. Self-centeredness and self-pity is. In other words, when you see other people, the natural thing is to think that the the primary thing that should be on the other person’s mind is your own needs.
Rather than assuming that the other person probably has his or her own needs and pain, most of us often assume they are in the fault for not being attentive to our needs, or, at the very least, still need to illuminated to the myriad of our own needs…which are obviously much greater.
However, when you’re visible to others, the portrait that you’ve been painting on the canvas of public opinion is the only thing that people really have any awareness of. Typically, the only things that other people know about you are the things that you have been portraying about yourself. You know what’s going on inside, but that isn’t necessarily true of everyone else. They may not be aware of everything on the inside like you are.
But the same thing is true for the people you see in your life, as well. You’re only looking in from the outside. You only see their outward display and the things they feel comfortable portraying to the world around them. But just like with you, there is so much more going on inside. There is a very real struggle, and often, very deep pains that others are dealing with that you have no idea about.
I often wonder how the world would be different if we treated each other differently. What would it look like if we all had the assumption that everyone needs more grace than they are currently receiving?
Here’s a better question: How would your world change if you stopped assuming people have their lives all put together, like they appear to, and gave them grace for the real struggle that they are currently in.
Your barista isn’t just a coffee making machine. She is a human struggling through something.
Your cashier isn’t just a conveyor belt moving your groceries from shopping cart to take-home bags. He is a human with issues that he hasn’t figured out yet.
Your bank teller isn’t just an ATM that happens to have a name tag. She is a human who is stuck right in the middle of a hard situation.
Your coach isn’t just your ticket to winning football games or achieving greater health. He is a human who still doesn’t really know how to raise his kids as well as he seems like he does, in a role like his.
Your local police woman isn’t just waiting for you to mess up so she can write you a ticket. She is a human who really struggles with what justice and mercy look like in her marriage or at her church.
Your pastor doesn’t get up on Sunday mornings just to make you feel guilty or just to answer all your God questions. He is a human who still struggles with temptations and trials that make him question God and his calling.
So I wonder what would happen if we gave each other the benefit of the doubt? What would this world be like if we allowed each other to be authentic?
Maybe today is the day we can make that change.
Today can be the day that you and I change the world…our world.