Have you ever been served such a large helping of humble pie, you thought you might have to eat the whole bakery?
Let’s think back to high school for sec. You know, the period of life in which the bulk of your most humbling experiences occur?
Do you recall the kid that every one made fun of, teased, or just generally was called names because that’s “just what everyone did”? The one that could never do anything right to save his life? I remember that guy. For the sake of privacy and whatnot, we will call him Paul.
My heart seriously went out to Paul. He was generally kind and decent, and I did my best to be kind and decent to him in return. But, there were some other people that were pretty horrible to him, calling him the worst names in the book and at times physically pushing him around.
Not long after we graduated, and everyone went their separate ways, I was working at a cafe. At the time, my mom was cleaning houses for a company. One day, she picked me up from work and said she needed some help with this one place, that it wouldn’t take long and she would pay me. As a teenager always in want or need of cash, I of course obliged.
As we drove and chatted, she mentioned that the lady who’s house we were about to clean said her son went to school with me. Upon asking who it might be, my mom replied, “I think his name is Paul?”
My eyes widened. Paul. “Paul Smith?”
I went kind of quiet. I was going to Paul’s house to dust the shelves his trinkets sat on and to Windex the mirrors he looked in; to wash the floors his feet walked on.
I will never forget entering Paul’s house, removing my shoes like it was holy ground. That day, perhaps it was.
I saw his kitchen table, and the couch in his living room. I saw the place he shared meals with his family and where he watched TV. I saw the photos that lined the hallways; pictures of him hugging his mom and dad, pictures of him laughing with his sister. He had a home filled with love.
I will never forget thinking of the fact that this was his sanctuary from the adversity he walked in every day at school. I wondered if he had felt relief when he entered the doors and threw his back pack down. Was he glad high school was in the past now? If I were him, I probably would be.
After we were done cleaning the house, my mom locked the door and we got back in the car. I closed my eyes, pretending I was tired. I was actually praying, thanking God that I offered a hand or word of kindness to Paul as often as I could. Let’s face it though – there were likely times I hurt him too. I wasn’t, and am not, perfect.
That day, it was like God had to physically bring me to this house and show me where this person came from. Where he ate, where he slept. Where he brushed his teeth, where he sat down to eat with his family.
So often we just see a person in one single environment. It’s easy to see people as a stereotype – the geek, the loser, the nerd, the jock, the bad girl, the prude – and treat them as such. But, as they say, even a dead fish can go with the flow. Maybe we need to swim against the current a bit more. Maybe we need to go against how we are expected to treat some people.
Guess what? This is not just the stuff of teenagers – there are people in our world as adults, at our workplaces, in our families, in our coffee shops, in our circles, in our churches, that are in need of a little more compassion and thought.
So how about it, friends? Let’s all have a piece of that humble pie. Let us show more compassion, more love, more understanding. Open a door, look in their eyes, say hello. Smile. Share. Offer. Invite.
Image from Flickr