We all have a story.
I have to hold this adage in my heart often. I am constantly reminded of this truth from people I don’t understand and often do not like. Some days, I have a hard time following what I believe is right. I get caught up in the current news and the personal dramas being played out around me. I forget that we all have our own story; something that motivates our actions every day.
When the news gets crazy, I forget about the calm I want to maintain.
I often talk to my kids about the baby in the backseat. I am not sure where I heard it or if I read it somewhere.
This is the story:
There was a blue car stopped at a stop light. The driver of the car next in line got frustrated because the blue car in front of it did not go forward the instant the light turned green. This driver’s frustration turned quickly to anger, honking and laying on the horn. The anger turned to rage and escalated to rolling down the window and shouting with the horn still blaring.
Suddenly, a young woman jumped out of the driver position in the blue car, swung open the door to the back seat and bent inside. A few seconds later, she pulled out a baby, held the baby upside down and began hitting the baby on the back as if trying to dislodge something. The baby was choking.
In that moment, all the rage dissipated from the man in the second car, and he was filled with compassion, even getting out of the car to help. Something flew out of the baby’s mouth and the baby was saved.
I think about this story constantly and say to my kids often, “Baby in the back seat.”
We just don’t know what is happening in a stranger’s life. Because we have no idea what story someone else is living, compassion should be our first response, if possible.
Our words matter
Another surprise lesson I have gotten is from my daughter’s brain injury. My sweet girl takes things very literally. She doesn’t understand that when I use figurative language, I am not saying exactly what I mean. I have to be extremely clear in picking my words. Once I jokingly told her in a monster voice that I would bite off her finger if she touched something I was cooking. I found out a few days later that she didn’t know I was teasing and was worried for her finger’s safety. Luckily, we can laugh about it now.
People use language to emphasize emotions and to get specific points across to others. Unfortunately, this is not something my daughter can do, let alone understand. Forgetting this difference is one of my gravest faults.
Perspective changes everything
My daughter has taught me to be careful with my words when expressing my thoughts. Understanding the other person’s perspective changes everything. It makes me compassionate to the “evil” neighbor (okay, okay, I still call her evil but only in my head). It makes me remember that the neighbor that doesn’t speak to me had a mom who loved her. Maybe her story is so tragic that her heart is closed.
When I am fully in my balanced brain and giving myself and others grace, I can step back and be the human I want to be. I want to offer my neighbors, whom I don’t understand, assistance if they need it. I want to see beyond the unkindness they are showing me and try to see the person under the veil of ugliness.
Another person’s personal beliefs is something I know I’ll never change. It would be my superpower if I could have one (cape included, of course). In trying to be the human I want to be, I want to at least give everyone a chance and remember everyone has a story.