I tell my kids that when they are getting guff from someone at school, to stop and think about what might be going on in the life of the person offending them. To think about what they may be going through, and in cases where desired intent is hard to decipher, to presume the best. Several times with hindsight, that has proven to be most helpful to them and good instruction to us all.
There are reasons to do this that are altruistic, and they are good, but mostly this is practical because it is helpful to us...because the anger, bitterness, and depression that can come from our interpretations mostly affects us, not the people that we think have hurt us.
I was reminded of that yesterday while running errands...twice. I was going about my day, on my phone texting while waiting in two different locations. I heard a police officer come in to the room complaining about plans being made and someone needing to make up their mind about if they were going or not. In retrospect about two minutes later, I realized that I had been thinking as she was discussing the situation, that private get togethers should be planned not while at work (which she was, in an police office where I was filling out some paperwork for one of our cars) and that the line outside would have been moving faster if she was not also doing that. It was not angry or bitter, just casual annoyance with only a superficial paying attention...but still. I say that because at some point her seeming anger and busyness came to a head after a phone call saying they were on the way to get the casket right then, and then ending the call with her head and her hands and wondering aloud about how her friend was going to be able to deal with this.
Later I was eating lunch with the kids and a group of North Americans came in where we were eating. I did not have any particular negative thoughts per se, we even gave them a recommendation of what was on sale but not on the menu, but still had my preconceptions and only superficial interest that was quickly wiped clean when we talked about where we were from, and finding out they were from Houston, stuck here for four days more than the mission trip they were on because of Hurricane Harvey, and one of the gentlemen shared that of six relatives living in the area, all six had homes under water. He had his boots on...said that if they got out on a flight, he was ready to get to work as soon as they got off the plane.
I share this because I think we all (mostly myself) could use a reminder that we are surrounded by hurting people in one way or another, mostly seemingly normal folks...people that need some understanding and sympathy rather than too-quick judgement, defensiveness or the like. Oh that I could be consistent in doing that.
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