The beach is my favorite place to be and each time we pack up the car to head home, I begin to count down the weeks until we will return. So much beauty to take in and the sounds of the beach are peaceful and exciting all at the same time. I have many fond memories of walking along the beach with each of my boys. It’s a wonderful time to talk and get in a little exercise.
Our first night at the beach and after a long day spent in the car I took some time to stroll along the beach with my seven year old son. He was looking for shells as we walked and he was making sure not to miss a single shell. He would hand them to me and I would carefully hold onto them for they were his new treasures.
He quickly put his hands into the water to catch a shell before the water took it back out to sea; it slipped through his hands and I could see the disappointment on his face. “It’s okay,” I said, “it was a broken shell anyway.”
As soon as the words came out of my mouth, it hit me. A little voice inside my head — or maybe it was my heart — reminded me that this is how we are with people. People who appear to be broken walk through our lives and we sometimes avoid them because they make us feel uncomfortable or they do not look like us or talk like us. We assume we cannot relate to them because they are different from us or maybe we are afraid they will reveal to us our own brokenness.
In a world where so much emphasis is put on outward beauty, we forget that true beauty truly comes from within. Makeup washes off easily and outward beauty goes unnoticed when unkindness spews from our mouths.
Whether we are in the grocery store, at work or even in the hallways of church we pass people who are broken and hurt. You can tell by their faces they are hurting and for some odd reason we take this personally instead of reaching out to them.
How do we treat the single mom who is raising children on her own? Do we come alongside her and help her with her children or do we assume her circumstances are due to the choices she has made? We do not know her story.
What about the overweight girl? We are quick to judge her eating habits and maybe lack of exercise. Ever thought it could quite possibly be genetic? Maybe there is a reason she is eating; and you, if you dare, could help her figure out what that reason is.
The introvert or the shy girl in the room who makes you feel uncomfortable because she appears frightened when you glance her way. We should put ourselves in her shoes for a moment. Imagine the difference you could make if you were the one to take the seat next to her.
Oh boy, what about the mom with the disobedient children that tell her “no” whenever you see her? It’s really difficult to bite our tongues when we are around them. You could demonstrate your knowledge of raising children without pointing out her struggles. Offer to take her children for a day or spend the day with her, with your own children being an example of a mother who can discipline her child.
The one that never smiles, and after a while you begin to take it personally so you avoid them at all cost. I have a few of these in my life and the best way to deal with them is to always greet them with a smile. I am sure my smiles may come off a little creepy at times, but at the end of the day I can say I tried.
Then there is the broken girl who looks completely perfect and exhausted all at the same. Be her friend without judgment or feeling intimidated. None of us have it all together and perfection comes with a price. Who knows, you may learn something from her.
What about those who never have anything nice to say about anything or anyone? It’s not an excuse by any means, but their childhood may have been difficult. We will never know the hardships of another unless we take the time to listen and to be their friend.