When an event in your life strips you bare, there is no good intention or false ideology to hide behind.
Enneagram 1 here. I have a great desire to “do the right thing”. I want others to also “do the right thing.” This isn’t bad in and of itself, but my tendency to be critical is extremely high. However, when an event in your life strips you bare, there is no good intention or false ideology to hide behind. Sanctification becomes intense.
Two days after Jane passed away I found myself in a department store trying to pick out the clothes she would be buried in. The process was horribly unsettling. I was in the midst of intense grief and everything around me felt completely distorted. People were walking, shopping and talking as if everything was normal. Of course it was normal for them, but for me the entire scene felt cruel and wrong. I couldn’t think clearly and I felt like I might pass out. I walked up to the register to pay for the clothes, the woman behind the counter was polite and asked for payment. I stared at her not being able to comprehend what she just said. I replied, “I’m sorry, what did you say?” She responded again asking for cash or card. My sister, who was with me, squeezed my arm and said, “It’s ok, take your time.”
I’m not sure what other people in line thought about me that day or what the poor woman running the cash register thought either. I have been known to show people less patience in similar situations. That day, and many others since, I have felt like telling and sometimes screaming at people, “Don’t you know what we’ve been through?! Can’t you show us some grace?!” The truth is most don’t know what we’ve been through. Even if they are aware of the situation, they likely and thankfully have not walked the same path. Sometimes suffering is visible and sometimes it is not.
Sometimes suffering is visible and sometimes it is not.
Currently, there are people who are in a financial crisis and concerned about providing for their family. Should I say they are insensitive for wanting to go back to work and don’t care about the health of others? There are also people who are truly high risk medically and afraid of catching a virus that would be life threatening. Should I say they are cowards and not thinking about the economy as a whole? The answer is no. My feet have not walked the same path. I can’t always see their suffering. I can listen. I can show empathy and I can try to understand. Even if I disagree or realize my situation is different, I can show love and I can show patience. And usually the best response is to stay quiet.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7