Be a Lifeline
When I was in high school and college, my favorite book was a novel about a young woman who married, somewhat impulsively, the man of her dreams. She soon found out that his deceased wife had a loyal servant at the estate who missed no chance to tell the new wife exactly how perfect her mistress had been, how much her husband had adored her, and how she herself would never measure up. At the end of the book, you discover that this servant’s portrayal of her mistress was nowhere close to reality, but that young woman had spent her marriage up to this point miserable – and it was all a lie!
Too often lately I have felt myself getting sucked into this deep pit. I compare myself to other homeschooling moms, to other writers, to other volunteers, to everyone else, sure that they’re doing it better and their lives are more wonderful than mine. This may be true, but it’s probably not. We all struggle. We all hurt. We all have faults and wounds. Some are visible and can’t be disguised, ignored, or hidden. But many of them are secrets from all but those who are closest to us and know us best, and the rest of the world rarely finds out.
If there’s anything I’ve learned in the decades since I read that book over and over again, it’s that everyone is struggling with something. Every person you meet is broken in ways you would never guess and can’t imagine. No one has a perfect life, no matter what they show you on social media.
I’m trying to teach this to my daughters now. We talk about living authentic lives, about being the same person online and off. We discuss being kind to others and offering help in small ways whenever and wherever you can. You never know when the person you offer some small kindness to grabs onto that as a lifeline and a source of hope that there is goodness left in the world. It gives them something to cling to as they travel dark paths and try to find a way back to peace and joy.
We never know what someone else is going through. Offering a smile in passing to a stranger or holding the door open for a young mom who is struggling with toddlers and a buggy full of groceries seem like small actions, but they can make all the difference to hurting souls.
October is breast cancer and domestic violence awareness month. Women (and men) who struggle with these issues often feel alone, and their struggle may be invisible. Kindness, compassion, and understanding can ease their daily burdens and may offer them hope that they desperately need in a particularly challenging season.