“Everyone Has a Story”
“Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
Philippians 2:3b-4 (NLT)
Before our son Jaxon was born, whenever I looked at someone I didn’t know, I saw a stranger. Now I see a person with a unique story.
Since Jaxon was born with microcephaly, a birth defect where the baby’s head is smaller than normal, my wife Brittany and I have become much more sensitive to people around us. We see young couples and wonder if they have children at home who struggle with health or emotional problems. We see middle-aged people and wonder if they’ve been through a situation similar to ours. We see older people and wonder if they’ve stood beside the hospital bed of a grandchild.
What obstacles have they overcome, and how have they coped with their challenges? Have they been blessed to live relatively ordinary lives? Probably not. Everyone faces struggles. But most of us hide our challenges from all but our most intimate friends.
Recently at my gym, I saw an elderly gentleman moving very slowly on a nearby treadmill. The “old me” would have laughed at the sight, wondering why he was wasting his time. But the new me wondered what that gentleman had been through in his lifetime. How had he become convinced to stay mobile? What if he’d been injured serving our country? Had he been an athlete in his youth? How had he found the courage to work out with younger, more athletic people?
I doubt thoughts like these would have occurred to me in the “before Jaxon” years.
Everyone has struggles. If you know someone without a problem in the world, just give them time. Hardships and sorrow catch up to all of us.
Most people we meet don’t guess we’ve faced such significant challenges with our child. We usually try to maintain a positive attitude, but sometimes it’s impossible to hide our frayed emotions and private sorrows. We’ve learned when things get rough, we just have to feel those difficult emotions until we don’t feel them anymore. And that’s okay.
I try to post to our Facebook page every day or so, which means I’m frequently looking at cute pictures of Jaxon. But pictures and videos don’t tell the entire story. They don’t capture his pain or our fears about how a common cold could result in a life-threatening infection for him.
We don’t want to dwell on the hardships, however, because ultimately Jaxon’s story is one of encouragement. While we are honest about the difficulties we’ve faced and the challenges that lie ahead, our primary message is one of hope. Life is a precious gift from God, and we want to celebrate every minute of it.
Now that I’m aware of how many people are living out difficult stories just below the surface, I find myself more sensitive to what they may be going through.
The Lord is using our situation to teach us the importance of staying humble, and looking out for others’ needs--not just our own. Our key verse puts it this way, “Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3b-4).
When I’m at the grocery store and notice the woman in front of me has 20 items in the 10-item express lane, I wonder what sort of family emergency is forcing her to bend the rules and rush home. Maybe she has a sick child, or an impatient husband. Maybe she’s under pressure and simply forgot the express lane limitation. Whatever her reason, I do my best to be patient with her. Because she, too, has her own story.
Dear Lord, help me to be compassionate and supportive of people who are different or those I don’t understand. Thank You, Father, that we each have our own unique story to tell and that we don’t have to live out our story alone. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 41:10, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (NLT)