My mother taught me an extremely valuable life lesson. I have a vivid memory of the exact moment I learned this lesson, though I doubt my mother remembers it at all. So important is this lesson, I use it almost every day and I’ve only ever shared the story with a few people.
Years ago when I was in middle school sometime, probably around age 13, mom and I were in the drive through bank line. While waiting for the teller to process our transaction I happen to look over and see a rather large middle aged man working on the road or a pipe or something. It was hot and he lifted his shirt to wipe sweat off his forehead.
Being the haughty teenager that I was, I said “EEW! Nobody needs to see that!”. And mom just looked at me and said “You know what? I bet somebody loves that belly. I bet he has kids who run to him when he gets home from work and hug that belly.”
And I was quiet at the time. But that moment is forever in my memory. This is how I try to live my life everyday. I am not always successful at first. I have thoughts that just pop in my head and I have to replace them but I do my best to realize that we’re all just people trying to live life.
This story is on my mind today because I had one of those moments where a thought popped in my head. I was on my way out of the apartment this morning and it was bitter cold. The wind was 15-18 mph making the 35 degree weather feel like 20. And there was a man smoking by the door. He was bundled up and looked pretty cold and my thought was “Ugh…just not worth it to me.” Meaning, I would not want to stand in the cold to smoke a cigarette.
HOWEVER…the second this thought entered my mind I immediately looked down at my own bundled up body. With my compression pants, under armour and wool hoodie, I was on my way to run 8 miles in the park. And I am quite sure that the smoking man was having the exact same thought about me as he watched me leave and get into my car.
So my point is, before we judge someone (or right after if the thought just escapes our control) we should remember that everybody’s got something.