It happened quickly. I was leaving the store and passed a mom with her small son. They were followed by a young girl walking a few steps behind them. It wasn’t an unordinary sight except for one thing. The sadness in the girl’s face and the single tear rolling down her cheek.
On the way to my car, my mind painted many scenarios. Maybe she was fighting with her brother and scolded by her mom. Maybe she wanted to buy a toy and was told no. Maybe she wanted to spend the night at a friend’s house and her family had other plans. Maybe she fell in the parking lot and skinned her knee. Maybe it was a small incident that hurt her heart and caused her pain. Maybe it was bigger.
I have raised my children and spent enough time with my grandchildren to know that on any given day children can cry many times, for many reasons. I am sure I was in several stores when my children were young and they had tears on their faces for the scenarios I imagined about this little girl.
But on this day, this girl was giving me a bigger message. How many times do I rush through life walking right by people without giving any thought to the pain they carry? We all do it. The barista at your favorite coffee shop, the clerk who brings groceries to your car for curbside pickup, the barber who cuts your hair, the server who brings your food, your teacher, your student, your employee, your boss... do you know what pain they carry?
We all carry pain. It isn’t always carried with a sad face and a tear. Sometimes it is the people with the biggest smile and the loudest laugh that carry the most pain. How do we know? What can we do?
It just takes the one thing everyone seems to have the least of. Time. We are all busy and rushing so we don’t notice. We don’t have to notice. We don’t want to notice.
It just takes a second to smile at someone and let them feel seen. It just takes a minute to be kind, friendly, and wish someone a happy day. To make them feel like you care. It just takes a little time to ask someone how they are and not just as you walk away but ask and wait for the answer. The real answer.
We have all created a habit of being busy. A habit of rushing. A habit of avoidance. Think about what we are missing. We are missing connection. Communication. Caring. It just takes a little time to care enough to connect. To communicate and learn about others. To show interest in their feelings and share in their happiness - and their pain.
I tried to make quick eye contact with the girl that day and smile at her. I don’t think she noticed. If she had stopped crying and wiped her tears two minutes before I walked by, I would not have noticed her. I would have never spent time wondering about her sadness. Wondering about her pain. I would not have received the message.
The message is that we all carry pain. We don’t get through life without hurt, loss, or tragedy. We don’t get through life without pain that we carry deep in our hearts. The tears and the scar tissue may not be visible, but it is there.
Once we experience this type of pain and learn the lessons that accompany it, we become more aware of the pain others carry. Hopefully, we share some of our time to wipe a tear or two, give a smile, or have a conversation when it is needed.
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Pennie’s Life Lesson:
We never know the pain others carry in their hearts.
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