I still have the text messages from a year ago. It’s all sorts of medical test results that I still don’t understand. Then comes the weeks leading up to my 40th birthday party that she helped coordinate from her sickbed. Finally, that dreaded last text. Her room number to the hospital where I would see her for the last time. I walked out knowing that was it.
We left on our out west adventure and she was on my mind. I sent her photos of the highlight of the day, but she never responded. I don’t know exactly when she started sleeping and not waking, but I wonder if those pictures caused her pain. Here I was out living life to the fullest and she was dying.
I too have felt the sting of the healthy and strong lately. It’s probably the only way I could look at those texts with my dying friend and see past the desire to just share my life with her. What I was also doing was not considering her. It’s isolating and hurtful to share one’s highs with someone who is in the depths of their lows. We do this all the time, one facebook status, one Instagram post, and one text at a time.
In fact, in our social media driven world, I think we’ve become numb to the other side of the screen. We’re used to throwing around our opinions and successes with a take it or leave it attitude. So when it comes to the one who is hurting, we’re so used to putting our best foot forward, we don’t realize the toes we’re stepping on, adding insult to pain.
In our places of pain, we too hurt those around us. In that hospital room, I brought my photo book from my recent mission trip and had all sorts of hilarious stories that I wanted to share. She didn’t want to hear it. Maybe she had the right.
Maybe pain and dying don’t make you perfect.
I know in those moments I wanted to share my life with her. I wanted her to share hers with me. Now, from a place of pain, I’ve begun to dig in a little more to the struggle of sharing our lives with one another. It’s true, there will be some unintended pain, but maybe we need to open our eyes to our own inconsideration.
A friend shared a painful story with me this week. She was unemployed and taking some time to really work on her life. During this time, her roomate became friends with her circle of friends and began going out to eat every weekend and some weekdays with everyone else. This left my friend at home alone, only to be met with all the great stories of the evening. Inconsiderate.
Then there’s competition. I’m all about inspiring others and being inspired, but there’s a fat line between inspiring someone and having someone run with your ideas in fear that you may become better than them in an area or fear that you might gain the affections of those around them. These friends are all about asking lots of questions with their measuring stick in one hand and their low self-esteem in the other. It’s painful to be left alone in the wake of your own ideas and relationships.
Invitations are a good place to start. An invitation goes a long way. We’ve stopped asking permission to share our lives with one another. Which has made us great talkers and poor listeners. It even feels awkward to roll play. “Can I tell you about my trip?” What if they say no? What if they give an artificial yes? It’s way more comfortable to just bulldoze our way through relationships. After all being heard is more rewarding than being considerate.
In the art of loving others well, we need to push through the awkward and become more aware of where people really are in their lives. Invite them to join you and ask for permission to join them. Considering others better than ourselves will help eliminate unnecessary pain. Self-care and listening for one’s own path will help minimize competitiveness. Let’s inspire togetherness and not isolation.
Love God And Whoever He Puts In Front Of You.