I have come to realize that in this life, we never really know what people go through until we understand it.
You see, we can look at people’s lives and judge them or we play out different ways they could’ve handled a situation and frankly, it really could have gone better and they could’ve made better decisions. However, at that point, that was not what they thought to do.
As humans, so many factors came to play to bring us where we are and who we are today. We all never have the same experiences; even people born and brought up in the same conditions will never have the same experiences.
Sometimes, people do certain things and we wonder –‘how could they?’, ‘what were they thinking?’ We judge, we scorn, we insult and we think they are foolish. We forget to ask ourselves, do we have the full picture? Do we know the real story? It’s easy for people not directly involved in a problem to look at things as if it were easy. It is said that “No one knows where the shoe pinches, but he who wears it’ and I believe that to be true because no one can really understand someone else’s hardship or suffering like the person.
I believe one of the reasons we go through certain things in life is to know how to relate with/to people that go through these things and to be able help them in our own way (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
For instance, a few years ago, I had everything planned out about my life. I knew what I wanted to do after school, ways to advance in my field of study (I’ve always known I’m not the business/entrepreneurial type). Now, right now, I am CONFUSED. I am no longer as interested in my field of study (Medical Laboratory Science) neither do I know what exactly I want to do because I seem to be interested in different things and I get bored easily.
Before now, I would look at people; graduates who didn’t have a plan, those that didn’t know where they plan to be in 5, 10 years and I would say to myself, these ones are unserious, they seem not to have a vision or sense of purpose and direction (yes, you can imagine how I thought, sometimes I cringe at some of the opinions I had. Thank God for growth and unlearning!).
Look at me now; I’m one of the ‘unserious ones’. When people ask me what next after my NYSC, my answer is usually I don’t know. I don’t know if I’ll be going for my masters or working. Even if I’m going for my masters, I have no idea in what because I’m trying to avoid this medical field. On the other hand, if I’m going to be working, I honestly would not like to work in a hospital for long. Then what exactly is it I want? I really don’t know.
Being in this situation has made me understand how possible it is for people to feel this way and to have compassion for them compared to my younger self. It also makes it possible to know what to say to people that might also be in this situation.
There are so many instances to give concerning being in the shoes of someone else to understand the decisions and choices they’ve made. I’m sure you also have some too yourself. I’ve been thinking about this lately because a lot of things around me somehow points to these things. As I’m living this life, I’ve come to realize that I never truly understand certain things until I experience it.
Even at this moment, some things have happened to me that my younger self will never approve of or believe that I could do such a thing. However, it happened and I think back at how I talked or thought of people that went through something similar and I realize this: I wasn’t fair and indeed they tried with what they had. I’m not saying every bad decision should be/is justified, I’m simply saying we should give people a break. If people made good decision in times of pressure, thank God for that, but if not, don’t crucify them. Help them to realize their mistakes and if you know how, lead them in the right direction.
I think it’s important to note that mistakes here may not necessarily mean falling into temptations or sinning, it could also mean not judging a situation properly or not taking the best decision at that time. Basically, it could mean making bad judgments about something. An example is playing games when you have a paper to write tomorrow.
Now, what is amazing is this; as Christians the truth is that we have the Holy Spirit to always guide us. It truly is amazing. However, some people don’t really know God and are bound to make ‘silly’ mistakes. We shouldn’t judge them, we should simply pray for them that one day they will see the light just as you have seen the light.
Even as Christians, sometimes we make mistakes/poor judgments because somehow we are still humans but the good thing is that we can always run back to God because we know His arms are wide open, He loves us and He makes things right.
So, if someone opens up to you about certain things they do or things that you don’t agree with, don’t dismiss them or give that judgmental look (to be honest, I know we sometimes can’t help it because it’s like a natural response but I believe we can work on it and try to be better). Not dismissing them or giving them that look makes them feel comfortable telling you these things. You could also pray for the person and ask that the Holy Spirit guide you so you can handle the situation well. I’m not saying don’t correct wrong doings. In fact you should do, but do so from a place of love and not from anger, disgust or spite (you get what I mean right?).
If you can’t say kind words or correct in love or have compassion when speaking, then maybe you shouldn’t speak. People usually open up more to people they are comfortable with, people they trust won’t judge them, people that are also real and vulnerable too (I’m still learning the vulnerable part, sigh).
Also, when someone tells you something that bothers them, don’t make it seem like it’s a small issue, like it’s so inconsequential. It might seem that way to you but to that person, it’s a very big deal. I mean, it bothered them enough to talk to someone about it, so listen genuinely and encourage them where needed. If you make it seem like it’s not a big deal, what happens is that next time they might bottle it up, they might never open up to you about certain things or they might even think something is wrong with them for whatever they feel to bother them. What people go through, whatever emotions they feel is genuine and should be felt. Let them feel it.
At the end, you give people a safe space to talk to you plus you’d also love that if it were you. In addition, you show them a glimpse of what the love of God feels like. The truth is all these things are not by our strength because our human nature will definitely show up but we can always ask for God’s strength and receive grace because indeed God gives freely.
Whatever it is you are going through, know that you’re not alone. Your experience is not outrageous, or silly. People have gone through it, people go through it, and people will go through it too. People out there can relate to whatever it is you feel or are going through. If you speak up, you would realize that.
There’s something that I’ve come to hold onto recently and that’s the truth that God loves me, He will never leave me and His plans for me are good. So no matter how things are going, I’ve come to trust His words. Sometimes, I forget but somehow, He reminds me and it strengthens me. Maybe you too can take comfort in His word. God indeed is a good Father, He loves you and He wants you. Never forget that.