January 12, 2012

A Long Way to See the Big Picture

This week we were reminded us how many good people we are surrounded by each day. Yes, we all have our struggles and weaknesses, but for the most part we are all just muddling through life trying to dot the best we can. It is humbling to remember that none of us are perfect, so judging the person’s reaction without knowing what wounds they are hiding from the world.

This is something that I continually have to work on. A snap judgment, annoyance, or impatience seems to come so easily. But once in awhile I get those simple reminders to see the ‘big’ picture and not get caught in my myopic vision of one annoying situation. There were a few times this week those ‘reminders’ hit me hard enough I had to pause and reassess my reactions.

Earlier in the week, I was interviewing at work. These interviews are quick but they drill down to the details of people’s lives that normally we do not share with our families, let alone a stranger. I was asking one guy why there was a gap in his employment and he answered, “Family problems, Sir.” Here is when my snap judgment and annoyance started, if I could have rolled my eyes and exhaled in frustration and still been professional I would have—instead I just exhaled in my mind. You see, this answer is not uncommon. Most people use it to hide some other fact or truth because they figure you will not keep asking. I was sure that was what this man was doing so I said, maybe a bit too briskly, “And what KIND of problem?” He hesitated and blinked his eyes and stuttered for a few seconds—my snap judgment again thinking he is going to lie so I silently watched him ready to pounce when he did lie.

He finally replied, “Sir, I had to leave my job because my wife was giving all the pay check to her boyfriend and when she knew I was coming home she ran off with him and left me with the kids. I have not been able to work because I am now raising the kids by myself.” My heart broke. His story was sad, but that is not the whole reason my heart broke. It was because although I have set numerous goals, including a New Year’s Resolution to be less prone to get annoyed at people’s mistakes, I had failed. Failed big time. I was sure he had been lying when, in reality, he was just trying hard to keep swimming fast enough to keep himself and his kids afloat.

Another experience this week: Today marks the three year anniversary of our daughter, Alli’s birth and passing. Later this year we will observe the anniversaries of our daughter, Annie’s, and son, Vaitafe’s births and passing too. We have a small burial site with all three of our children’s name on the headstone. We visit it when we go back to Hawaii and in the meantime we rely on family members to keep it clean and visit once in awhile. They are so willing to do it and it means more to us than we could ever express.

I got an email this week from our friends Joseph and Shauna, who were back in Hawaii on holiday and they had decided to go visit the grave site and sent us a photo of them there. It was so touching to think that on their holiday, with all the things they could have been doing, they thought of us and decided to visit the gravesite of our children.

I cannot get this to rotate...Lame. It looks correct everywhere  until here then it goes sideways again.

Again, I had to pause to realize how blessed we are to be around such wonderful people and evaluate if I am the kind of friend/family member that others are to me. How often do I go on holiday and visit a place that is does not mean something to me necessarily, but it means something to a friend? How many times to I brush off the thought to visit a neighbor or call a friend? Or neglect to compliment someone when they deserve it? Or show gratitude for service that someone rendered in my behalf? What Shauna and Joseph did was a tremendous gift. Simple, yet in perfect timing and full of love.

So this week has been a refreshing reminder to see the good in people. I try to be, and for the most part can be, patient and not be annoyed, but obviously still have a LONG way to go. (I still mutter under my breath at the slow person walking in front of me when I am in a hurry, or yell at the car that just cut me off, and have to calm my blood pressure when a customer service agent tells me to “just wait for a minute” for the tenth time. Yes, I still need to work on my goal, it may be a New Year’s resolution for several years coming!)

I am thankful, as I have said many times, for the people in my life—the stranger, the friend, the family member, the colleague—that are willing to see the big picture and be an example of the person I want to become someday.

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