Sadly, cats can’t talk, but we can. Each of us has a story to tell, a lesson to teach, wisdom to share. Everyone has gone through something that has changed them. It might be a painful past of heartbreak, abuse, poverty, or grief that’s hidden behind a smile, strength, or financial success. Or, it could be a happy past of family, love, and confidence, now hidden behind drugs, abuse, or addiction of any sort. We tend to judge people by outward appearance, even though we claim not to. We judge people by their beauty, their weight, their financial success, their job, their kids, and how they “appear” to us. But there is so much more to each of us. If we take the time to really listen, take the time to truly get to know each other, we can learn so much. How many times have we “not liked” someone, and then circumstances forced us to spend time together, and we realized we actually really like the person. We heard parts of “their story” and we could relate. We judge someone for being unfriendly and cold, only later to realize the abuse they endured as a child. We judge someone for being overprotective of their children, not knowing they lost a child in an accident. We judge someone who declines a glass of wine with us, having no idea they were an alcoholic for 10 years and lost everything. We judge friends for being stingy with their money, never being told they grew up in poverty with no running water. We judge the homeless man for being a loser and little do we know he served 20 years in our military for our freedom. We judge the young pregnant teenager for her stupid choices, never even considering she was raped. We judge the mentally ill as if their illness was a choice and the substance abuser who lost their family in a fire for how they cope.
I love to hear people’s stories and I never cease to be fascinated and mesmerized. I often watch people and wonder about their story. I wonder about the sales clerk at a store who is being rude to me…did she have a fight with her husband this morning? I wonder about the parent on my kid’s sports team who seem extremely angry…did he just find out his parent is dying? Did the driver who had road rage on me just get fired from his job? I even wonder about my own friends. I’m not naive enough to believe I even come close to knowing their stories either. Is the friend who is being distant having marriage problems? Is the friend who never responds to invitations struggling to pay their bills? Is the friend who seems happy, really battling depression? I also wonder about the tough kids I work with. Did they see their mom being abused before they came to school? Did they see their dad taken away to jail last night? Did they have food to eat? Did they have to move for the 5th time this year? Even kids have a story and their story is worth listening to as well.
I think it should be required in our lifetime, that each of us writes our life story. No story is boring and every story is equally important and unique. I would read as many as I could. I’m sure our stories would leave us laughing, crying, shocked, amazed, and maybe even occasionally disappointed. But what a gift to give to each other. Think about someone’s story before you judge and be patient with the faults of others, as we all want others to be patient with ours. Take time to listen to someone’s story this week or be brave and share your story…you could be the difference in someone’s life. Let me know what you learn…I bet you’ll be amazed!