I spend a lot of time in thought. I am busy, but I do have quiet times when I just think. I think about my past, my present, my future and all the people wrapped up into it. Sometimes I like to people watch. When you watch people for a while, you begin to realize that people wear more emotions on the outside than most people realize. It's just a matter of paying attention.
Once upon a time, I didn't do this. I was very wrapped up into my own world and my pain. It was difficult to imagine that anyone else was having bigger problems than myself. It was all about me. I did some pretty self-destructive things back then. I was constantly needing help...needing understanding. I rarely received it at home. I would just whine and complain to my friends. Then, I was blessed enough to meet a few mentors. I had wonderful, strong women come into my life willing to take me on not as a project, but as a daughter...a sister and a friend. These women would open their homes to me. They gave me their time and their honesty. Sometimes, they gave me stern instructions needed for living and for the times when I just didn't get it. When I came to a point in my life that I could finally understand that the world didn't revolve around me and that humbleness truly is a virtue, I began to realize these ladies gave me so much and I had given them nothing...absolutely nothing. I went to one of my mentors and said to her,"You've done so much for me...more than anyone else would have bothered...what can I do to repay you?". She simply told me "Pass it on." I nodded my head to her and began to really think about what she said. I certainly wasn't at a point where I could open up my home to people, and I certainly didn't have much time to spend with someone (I was a single mother at this point). So, I just decided to start paying attention to people. Now, I didn't just all of the sudden realize my purpose in life, start feeding the needy, or volunteer at a soup kitchen. It took many years, many years of me pushing advice on people, judging evil doers, many flopped attempts at helping people to realize that I was doing absolutely no good for the sake of humanity. At one point (and I still struggle with this from time to time), I pretty much lost complete faith that people are good in any amount. It was so easy to look at the actions of people and get sick to my stomach or just get completely angry. It didn't take much; a parent yelling at their kid in the store, someone cutting in front of me in line, people tail gating me, people stealing and laughing about it, gossipers, politicians, preachers, other moms complaining, family members saying hurtful things.
Then one day I heard someone say something that has stuck with me. Will it affect eternity? It means: is it something that is going to affect the progression of humanity in and of itself? Is the action of the other person you are about to judge going to cause an incomprehensible loss or gain for you or anyone else? Are these happenings going to change a course in history? Is it going to have an affect on your afterlife or anybody else's? In the scheme of things...is it something that's really important or life changing? You get my point.
This mantra helped me start seeing people in a different way. Once I could ask this question about actions of people...about myself...I could start looking past the actions and see the person. Most people, even when they are angry and mean, are truly desperate. Sometimes the way they act is the product of no one taking the time to teach them. Sometimes it's people just making dumb mistakes and generational sins being passed down to the new ones, but isn't that what makes us human and our fragility unique? We're all capable of lifting eachother up and totally tearing eachother down. It's all a matter of choices, but at the end of the day, there are reasons behind every poor decision, every less than desireable character trait, and every misfortunate event that happens on this planet. If we take the time to see the emotions behind these choices and ask ourselves if the action of another person is really going to change anything, maybe...just maybe we could all get along better and finally start seeing where we can help others. If we constantly dwell on the annoyances in everyday life, how can we see the big picture? How can we ever begin to come together and start understanding that there are bigger things happening in the world that need attention and that there are people who do need to be held accountable for actions surpassing daily annoyances?
Sure, I still get annoyed and sometimes angry. I still don't understand every action of every person, but I can definitely be confident at the end of the day that I chose to concentrate on the things that truly matter and chose to let the ones that didn't, slip past. I am free to make choices based on the content of the book and not judge the book by its cover. Will tolerance of people affect eternity? Will choosing to just let some things go affect eternity? Will choosing to smile instead of glaring in contempt affect eternity? Will understanding affect eternity? I'd like to think so. If I ever lose my ability to have compassion for others, I pray that the Father takes me home.
P.S.- I'm not a pushover, so please do not cut in front of me in line. :) lol