Lessons of 2019 – July.
This is the seventh part in a new blog-series about the lessons I’ve learned this year. Read the full into in the January post, but basically I’m sharing the stand-out lessons from the last year in the hope that they will inspire and encourage others, and I also want to urge you all to be intentional about capturing and retaining the lessons that will make you a better person. Here is June’s lesson…
July’s Lesson: Be kind, for everyone is facing a great battle.
Here’s a little bit of ancient wisdom for us. There’s some controversy about the origin of this quote: some say it was Plato, others attribute it to more modern figures. When I came across it the source was given as Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish philosopher based in Egypt at around the same time as the life of Jesus.
Ultimately it doesn’t matter who said it, the principle is what counts. We shouldn’t nit-pick about provenance when we should be focusing on the call to be kind. It’s sad that we need urging to be kind, but apparently we do. I’m less kind than I’d like to be, and too often I find myself assuming the worst in others or getting frustrated with people who let me down. This quote inspires me to be kinder.
Why? Because everyone is facing a great battle. Life is hard. You don’t know what’s going on in a person’s life – there are nuances behind everyone’s struggles and even the most perfect public facades can hide demons and difficulties of many kinds. It’s said that if everyone in the world put their problems in a great heap, you’d want to take your own back when you saw everyone else’s. I reckon the same is true about the battles we face – ours seem unbearable to us until we see what others are fighting.
This should spur us to count our blessings and keep a sense of perspective on our complaints and inconveniences. It should also make us patient with others and always ready to give the benefit of the doubt. Who knows what illness, insecurity, mental health issue or discouragement caused that person to let you down or lash out at you? If we knew what was going on behind the scenes, we’d be a lot readier to be patient and much quicker to forgive.
Rick Warren wisely observed that what we often attribute to malice on someone else’s part is actually just stupidity or sheer forgetfulness. Bearing that in mind, let’s not assume the worst in people or read more into perceived slights than is really there. We should always ask: why did they act like that? What caused them to do what they did? These questions may save us from many false judgements and lost friendships.
In short: if in doubt, be kind.
The Bible puts it even better:
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:2)
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
If you’re anything like me, chances are you live out these verses very poorly. I’m wrestling with this challenge and how to do better. What can you do to be more kind to those in your life?
January’s Lesson: Don’t Worry About Tomorrow, God is Already There.
February’s Lesson: Inconsistent Parents Raise Insecure Children.
March’s Lesson: Thank God for what He is going to do, even though you don’t know how He is going to do it.
April’s Lesson: Dream Big but Start Small.
May’s Lesson: Ambition is the path to success; persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.
June’s Lesson: Stop thinking about what you don’t have and start using what you do have.
Come back tomorrow for August’s Lesson. Even better, subscribe to my blog by email and never miss another post.