Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Just Wondering

I saw this post on Facebook today and it starting me wondering. Whomever posted it, I hope you don't mind if I share it here.



 
"A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look."

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood. The next morning while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the wash outside. "That laundry is not very clean; she doesn't know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap." Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her wash to dry, the young woman makes the same comments. A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: "Look, she's finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this? " The husband replies, "I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows." And so it is with life... What we see when watching others depends on the clarity of the window through which we look.
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At first this photo made me think of my childhood, my mother hanging out clothes and later on me taking them in after they were bathed in sunshine. Then as Charles Kuralt would say, "The rest of the story..." came to me. 
How many times do we see others and just pass judgement from a glance? So many times people just compare others by their own standards or surroundings. If their home is not neat, they must be poor housekeepers. If their clothes are worn, they must not care about their appearance. If their belongings are meager, they must be dirt poor and not care enough to have goals and go after them. How many times have you done this? How many times have I done this?
I can't speak for you, but I have passed judgement on people by appearance, status, cleanliness, etc., until my life changed due to chronic illness. I use to be the best housekeeper in the world. Not a piece out of place. Not a speck of dust anywhere. My clothes may not have been designer, but they were clean, pressed and appropriate for work/school.  Not one hair out of place. Always wore makeup before stepping outside the door. 
My parents were hard working people. My mother kept a clean house. My father did physically hard labor with his hands. My brother worked hard and so did I. It angered me at times to see so many people who did not. I just passed judgement and went on failing to ask the why behind the situation. It was easier than trying to understand.
Now I find myself in the shoes of those I judged so many years ago. I became the caregiver of my parents and only brother before they died watching them waste away until death took them. Then an illness consumed my body and stole my life when I wasn't looking. It took my dignity, the friends I thought would stay during hard times, the respect I earned in the working world, the image of the woman I use to see in the mirror. 
Now if I am able to change clothes during the day, I am thankful to have clothes that fit. They are no longer skirts, pretty blouses, dresses and nice shoes. Instead they have been replaced with easy on tops and pull up jeans or pants. My body gains and loses weight according to the tons of medications I have to consume to stay alive. I don't recognize the woman I use to be. Other people now judge me just by a glance. Even doctors don't take time to listen or even check out why all of this is happening. They just pass their own judgement and move on leaving behind a humiliated patient trapped in a body that no longer works. 
I cannot get dressed and go to a day to day job anymore. My body is a prison filled with wardens of pain. They consume me with swelling, fevers, infections, just to name a few, and confine me to the loneliest place in the world - an empty apartment where no one visits, no family exists anymore, and no love warms its corners. 
Gone are the days of putting on makeup just to go out the door. I'm too tired. Most days I don't even go out of the door. If I do it is just to take out the trash or feed the birds. Somehow I don't think the birds will mind that I don't wear makeup for them. 
If anyone came into my door, they would know the days are gone that I can clean my apartment free from dust, free of clutter, etc. It is so painful just to run the vacuum cleaner. There are items on the dining room table because that is as far as I could go. There are items near the sofa. My bedroom has corners filled with items I can no longer put away. I just don't have the strength anymore. 
It is hard enough to walk outside into the world feeling the judgement of people boring a hole through my soul. I guess it is true what goes around comes around. I've learned personally judgment falls back upon you at some point in your life. It has rested heavily on me. I just pray at some point God can "clean the windows" of my own heart that I don't miss the opportunity to reach out to someone whose clothes, living circumstances, or appearance keeps compassion away. I never want to turn my back on anyone whose need is great if there is a dollar in my pocket and someone else may need it.
I think about all of those celebrities who have earned so much in this world. They give to "charities" or give themselves to "their craft." Do they even know who they are outside their own "celebrity name?" Could they get past the fear of being seen doing something compassionate for another human being because they are afraid it would harm their reputation or would they fear the press would report it as something else? Do they think so much about themselves that they can't see the "forest for the trees?"

  When you have much, much is expected of you. So many are suffering. What are you doing to make a difference in someone's life today? Asking "how are you doing?" is not enough. Words without actions mean nothing.  Ambition is a two edged sword. It pushes you to obtain your goals, but you have to be careful. What lives did you hurt or destroy to get there?
If you can't do something to make a difference in someone's life without having to advertise it to the world, what good is it? Don't tell anyone. Just do it. Why must you be praised for having compassion? 
Rambling thoughts today. Never dreamed so many years ago when I worked full time while putting myself through college I'd end up here at this point. I just hope it can make a difference in one life who reads this.   
    

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