This morning I opened up my Question a Day Journal to find today’s question:
An interesting question. Without hesitation I would definitely have answered that it was a solid ONE. I’d had a good nights sleep, I was looking forward to work and I had a loving hubby and children, life is good. But just moments after leaving the insulated world I call home, that answer changed drastically and has continued to change throughout the course of the day. Today, my walk to work, generally uneventful, involved a domestic dispute, three police officers and three sweet-faced children. Suddenly, my answer changed from a one to a ten.
Tonight as I write this post, I find myself reflecting on the days events, what I witnessed, making the decision to call 911, the faces of those children and their hugs as they ran to me, a complete stranger, thanking me for calling the police. The similarities between these kids and mine contrasted by the differences of their situation compared to my children’s situation. The growing anger of their mom, which I imagine was fueled by embarrassment as much as anything. All of it visited me in little pieces throughout the day and with each visitation, the number changed.
I often say, “Everybody’s got somethin'”, meaning that we all have a back story, things that have happened in our past that have shaped how we present ourselves to the world, to our family and the people we encounter in our day-to-day lives. Because of this, we need to have the grace to meet people where they are and love them, even if that love is just simply to tolerate them. I’m not perfect and I often fail at this, but still, I try to do this as I encounter people who are just difficult to deal with. As I look back on the day’s events I am left wondering what brought mom and dad to this point, and what impact are these events going to have on those beautiful children? I’ve also been wondering if I show any of them grace when I called 911?
I do think I represented something good to those children, that there are good people in this world and those people care about them. Their hugs and thank you’s, and the words of the responding officer tell me I absolutely did the right thing. This brings my answer to this question back to a one.
Then I think about how much more angry I probably made mom and how she probably took that out on her children, out of sheer frustration and embarrassment. Sadness level is a 10 again.
Then I think about my walk to work tomorrow and how I’m considering an alternate route for at least a couple of days or more to avoid the angry parents, who I know without a doubt will confront me if they have the chance, especially because dad was on parole.
But what about those kids? If I don’t go that way who will protect them if they need it tomorrow, or the next day or the next day? Will they be looking for the short, old lady in the bright green hat tomorrow? Is it my place to be there for them next time? Always? Or was I there for the moment, for that purpose? All of this brings that number bouncing all around and back to ten again.
My point (I think): When we have the luxury of surrounding ourselves with those we love and what we love and what makes us comfortable, it’s pretty easy to be satisfied with what we have, our sadness level is low. Unfortunately, we can’t insulate ourselves from the outside forces, the things that scare us and hurt us. The personal insults and the suffering of others all must impact us unless we are to be hermits. Our levels of sadness will be effected by these things, sometimes multiple times in the course of a day. I don’t think this is necessarily a bad thing. I think it not only shapes us, but it gives us the opportunity to show grace to others and as a result, lower their sadness number.
On a scale of one to ten, what level of sadness are you? Why? Better yet, what can you do to lower someone else’s level of sadness? Once I am able to settle on an answer to this question today, it will be interesting to revisit this question next year and in the years to come. In the meantime, I hope to remember that everyone is carrying around a number of sadness each and every day and I hope that I can meet them where they are and show them grace.