We like to set ourselves apart. To believe we are somehow different. We are taught to focus on what makes us unique and to fight for our place. In a world of comparison we swim out to islands called "me, myself, and I" and we camp out there... Thinking the life we live, the world we control and keep spinning... is somehow different from the life your neighbor is trying to hold together. I tend to think that if we take off the rose colored glasses we are wearing, the ones that paint your enemy a different color than you...we will look into the eyes of the person standing in front of us and find we are ALL the same.
Same raging hope.
We all fight the same fight. We all claw our way out from the pit of struggle. We all wish for a win. We all have the same demons that whisper lies to us... we all have the quiet voice of hope begging us to keep going when we wanna hide away.
You are no different from me. I am no different from you. We are ALL the same.
We are cut from the same cloth. Whether we wanna admit it or not. Built by the same creator. Unique but STILL the same.
The difference between us? Simple. How we handle the "what comes next". How we come though the aftermath of our very similar storylines.
Let's say your father abandoned you when you were 5 years old. Unfortunately you fall into a statistic that plagues our nation. Men who refuse to lead their families and run from responsibility. You were left holding the pain and weight of it all. You spend your life thinking it's your fault and wrestle with the aftermath of what abandonment does to your heart... how it wrecks and changes the way it beats in time with others. You are not alone in this. If you find yourself in the pew of a church on Sunday morning... or in line at the grocery store... you will find a dozen people with the exact same story. You are the same. The only thing that makes you different is what you did with your wreckage. The person to your right whose father left her when she was 12... she took the pieces of her life and hurled them at anyone who came close.... burning bridges between her heart and anyone else whoever tried to get close. She lives afraid. She lives thinking she will never be enough... because her father didn't stay. The person to your left... whose father walked away before she ever left the womb... always felt like she was a mistake.... a one night stand... a piece of leftover matter from a relationship that never should have happened. Brutal. Because she never felt love from the first man in her life ... she is on a quest... instead of burning bridges... she clings to anything that breathes... pleading for someone to love her. Problem is... she won't find him until she first finds herself. YOU... you suffered the same trauma... but you had a grandfather who stepped in and showed you what a REAL man looks like. Or maybe it was a stepdad who adopted you when you were 14 and called you by name... speaking life into your bones and treating you like the queen you are. Your aftermath looks different... but YOU are not different. YOU are still the same as the other two precious hearts who suffered the same loss... YOUR story had a different twist... YOUR life took a different turn. That's it.
It's critical we understand this. THIS is where we encounter and dance with empathy.
If we can grasp we are all the same, maybe our world can spin with less hatred and more love. Maybe when our lives collide we can embrace one another with acceptance and stop sabatoging relationships based off perceptions that DO NOT EXIST.
Recently I was told about a live FB video where a woman attacked those "living in sin" saying it was her "job" to shame them into admission so that they could find forgiveness. She sat on her "holier than thou" throne she built for herself... and cast stones. Boulders. She doesn't recognize she is no different than the people she doubts.. than those she calls a fraud. She points fingers and spreads seeds of division and lies... for only ONE reason. She is broken and bleeding out herself. She paints the world around her ugly... because her own heart feels unaccepted. She feels cast out... and because of that... she does the same to others... so she won't feel so freakin alone. It's easy to want to judge her because she is judging every step we take. But in the end.... she is just like me. I am just like her. We are all fighting for acceptance... we just go about it differently. She will do better, when she knows better... just like all of us.
When Trump secured the border, and thousands of children were forced into camps separated from their families... the world erupted. Some shouting words of support for closing the borders... and teaching those who "break our laws" a lesson...others spoke out claiming injustice and pleading for basic human rights to be given back to "our" children... because in fact... ALL children are OUR children. The passion is strong on both sides... the biggest argument coming from one side...
"Don't Break the Law". Bottom line.
My thoughts on this are simple. Because THIS is simple. Have YOU ever been so scared.... lived in a place so threatening... that you were forced to run? Have you ever lived in a society where breaking the law was a safer bet than following it? Maybe. Maybe not. But YOU are just like the immigrant who ran. YOU have a family member you would run for if you had to. A person in your life... a child you tuck into bed that you would sacrifice everything for.... if that's how the chips fell for YOU. Am I saying it's right? I don't know. This isn't a political post.... I am not here to push an agenda...what I am saying is this....
WE ARE ALL THE SAME. Different roads. Different circumstances. But WE are built the SAME. We fight. We struggle. We rebuild. We try again. We survive.
Once there was a woman across the world...so poor and hungry she would force her children to sniff glue. If she could get them to ingest the fumes they would pass out.. and sleep for 48-72 hours. It was worth it, because they wouldn't feel the hunger pains while they waited for their next meal that sometimes didn't come. How does it make you feel to hear her story? Are you judging her? Accusing her of being an abusive parent? What would YOU do if you were given the exact same circumstance? You don't really know... because likely... you've never heard your child fight for breath in the last stages of starvation. Likely you would choose the same road... because again... WE ARE ALL THE SAME. We are all just trying our best to get through it. Whatever IT is.
Next time we face someone we THINK is different from us. Next time we hear someone's life story and judge the choices they made...Someone we ASSUME chose the roads they traveled... LOOK AGAIN. take a LONG hard look, recognize we have NEVER walked in their shoes... and if we had... we just might see our very own reflection staring back at us.