A few days ago I was visiting my daughter's high school. As I was leaving, I noticed a group of girls walking together. One of them turned around and looked me right in the eyes. I smiled at her and she hesitantly smiled back, and looked down at the floor.
The exchange was a little odd.
However, when she walked off, I noticed something.
She had a different walk.
Her legs would not straighten out. She walked with a limping stride.
She had a disability of some sort.
I watched her walk off with her friends. She looked back one more time at me and kept walking.
A soft lump formed in my throat. Tears stung my eyes.
She was probably around my daughter's age.
I prayed for her right there in that hallway.
My prayers for her were not because I felt sorry for her....
I prayed for her because I realized something in that moment.
Sometimes our struggles are physical and visible....
And other times our struggles are hidden on the inside.
The inside struggle is the one I am too familiar with.
However, this teenage girl...
Everyone that has ever watched her walk has seen her struggle.
The struggle to keep her feet in sync.
The struggle to walk in step with her friends.
Such a seemingly simple task....
But not for her.
For those of us who have inside struggles....
We know what this feels like.
We want to just feel like everyone else.
We want to be able to have a coherent string of thoughts.....
We want to be able to carry on a conversation with people....
And not feel the struggle.
Whether it be depression, or grief, or anxiety, or fear, or obsessive compulsion, or racing thoughts, or worry.....
We struggle to maintain sanity.
As my eyes met the eyes of this beautiful teenage girl, the first thought that I had was this:
We all suffer. Some suffering is visible to the human eye, and some suffering is not.
When I left the school, I headed straight to Wal-Mart. Because, if you live in a small town, that's where you go.
As I was exiting my car, I saw a man about my father's age. He was trying to get into his car. His back was so hunched over that he could barely see in front of him to walk. His face grimaced as he took the few steps to his car door.
He was in excruciating pain. I could see it so clearly.
I wanted to run over to him and tell him that I understood!
I know this pain.
Not physically, but the pain on the insides.
The kind that makes your stomach ball up into knots and your mind feel like it has run away from you and it will never feel right again.
Lord, why are you wrecking me today?
I remembered eating breakfast with my daughter that same morning. We were cheerfully finishing our food when a woman slowly passed our table. She was eaten up with arthritis or something of that nature.
She was not very old. Mid forties at the most.
But, she struggled to get the door open to the bathroom.
I was so struck watching her that I didn't even think to help her.
But, a young man saw her and walked over to her to open the door.
I sat there dumbfounded.
I witnessed the kindest exchange between two people.
And the news stations tell us we hate each other.
I beg to differ.
What I witnessed was pure kindness. Thoughtfulness. Sincerity. Love. Service.
I asked the Lord again after remembering that exchange...
What are you doing to me, Lord? You are wrecking me.
I remembered a prayer that I had been praying.
For my eyes to be opened. At all times.
To not miss those around me.
To see what God sees and to notice what He notices.
He was answering that prayer.
Whatever your struggle is...
Whatever your suffering....
You are not alone.
He sees you.
He is also putting others in your path to see you. To pray for you. To show kindness to you.
He loves you.
Whether your suffering is visible or not...
It is always visible to Him.
Let these words from Isaiah Chapter 55 bring your heart peace. They sure do mine.
keeping my eyes open,
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