You Don’t Know My Story

Recently, we took a trip to the Gulf to relax and fish for a few days.  Looking back at my pictures, I ran across this one.

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I couldn’t remember if it was a sunrise or a sunset.  I had to think back to where I took the picture and what I was doing at the time to place it.

Was this taken at the beginning of the day?  Before memories were made.  Prior to the sun coming over to warm my chilled body on a cool morning.

Or, was it taken at the close of the day?  After making memories of laughter, catching fish and bug bites.  Was I looking forward to washing off the sticky salt water and fish odor I had picked up throughout the day while thanking the Lord for a beautiful day spent on the water?

I was reminded that sometimes appearances aren’t always what they seem at first glance.

How often do we look at someone and make a quick determination about who they are?  Where they’ve been.  Where they’re heading.

We see someone who doesn’t dress as well as us and determine their financial status instantly.  We meet someone who is down on their luck and gather that they’ve made a string of bad decisions that led them to this place.  We catch someone losing their temper with their children and assume they are “bad parents” and begin to feel sorry for their children.

We’ve all done it.

It’s been done to all of us.

 14a” For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”

                                                            Galatians 5: 14-15 NIV

These words.  So simple.  So practical.  Written so many years ago and still applicable at this very moment in time.

Have you ever run out in public dressed in your husband’s t-shirt and sweats because you have a child at home with a raging fever who needs meds quick?  Have you ever down sized your home?  Gone through a divorce?  Filed bankruptcy?  Been accused of something you did not do?  Dropped your child off at school only to realize you never fed them any breakfast?

Would you be bothered if people were forming opinions of you during these times?  Do you want others to form judgments about you based on what little they see in that moment of your life?  That instance.  That season.

We have got got to take God at his word here and do this his way.  We have to put ourselves in each others’ shoes before opening our mouths.  Take captive our thoughts when those opinions begin to form so quickly.  We have got to show others love.  Unconditional love.

Or we ourselves will be devoured.  Destroyed.

When we see something that makes us curious, let’s be careful.  Very careful.  Let’s be compassionate.

We don’t know where they came from.  We don’t know what reality they are living in.  We don’t know where they’re headed.

What a different world we would be living in if we simply loved others as we want to be loved.  We can’t control what others do, but we can start with our own actions.  Our own thoughts.  Set the bar.  Be the example.  Starting now.

If you need encouragement, encourage someone today.  If you see a tired, young mama, frustrated at the grocery store, take the time to tell her she’s doing a great job.  If you have a young adult in your life who is trying to make some big decisions, tell them you are praying for them…and do it.  If you hear someone being talked about negatively, do what you can to stop that conversation.  Wouldn’t you want someone to do the same for you?

You don’t know my story.  I probably don’t know yours.  As we do get to know each other, sharing lessons we’ve learned, becoming vulnerable, placing trust in one another, let’s treat those beautiful, intimate pieces of life delicately.  This is how we love our neighbor as ourselves.

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