Do you really know the people around you?
Do you know what makes them happy, what they do most of the day, what drives them as a person, what pains they carry, and how they became who they are today?
The Sassover Rebbe said that he learned the meaning of love from overhearing a conversations between two villagers. One asked the other, "Do you love me?" The second replied, "I love you deeply" The first asked, "Do you know my friend what gives me pain?" The second protested that he could not possibly know. "If you do not know what gives me pain, " lamented the first, "how can you say you love me?" (Rabbi David Wolpe, Making Loss Matter, 1999)Most of the people around you who appear strong, confident, courageous, and fearless have lived a life filled with loss, grief, pain, and disappointment. They have had to make some very important decisions in their lives that led them to the person they are today.
Have you asked them about their story?
I love hearing people's stories. I am continually amazed, and shocked, at times, the things people have overcome. I learn time and time again that most people, when tested, learn to fly.
This past year I learned that one of my friends had a girlfriend that was killed while they were riding their bikes and just one year earlier his previous girlfriend committed suicide. I couldn't believe that he carried around all that with him as part of his story. I would still not know this about him if I hadn't asked him to tell me about his story.
A while back another friend of mine told me, while we were on a ferris wheel, that he was struggling with a crippling addiction (I had no idea) and that he was finally getting help. He actually thanked me for sincerely wanting to know how he was doing. He was grateful to tell someone about his story.
The other night I shared dinner with another friend that showed me her 2 year sobriety coin and told of some of her ugly past that she regretted and how grateful she was for Grace and the opportunity to change.
Another friend shared with me, after years of knowing her, that her father was in prison for killing her mother in a domestic violence situation. She told me this after asking me about my brother's death. When I was willing to share with her parts of my story she felt free to share hers. She was relieved to finally share her story after years of not talking about it to anyone.
I'll never forget sitting one day in grad school, after a huge group assignment was over, there were a bunch of us sitting around at my friend's house and we started sharing why we decided to get our Master's in Social Work. Later, when we were cleaning things up and everyone had left, I asked the host why she decided to study Social Work. She told me she that when she was younger she had been raped and it was a social worker that helped her in her process of healing.
It is amazing what we learn when we ask and listen to people as they share their stories.
|After the dark comes light|
If you ever want to be inspired, feel compassion, be grateful then all you need to do is ask someone you know to tell you their story. You might be amazed and how much you really don't know.