"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato
That quote has been rattling around in my mind for several days. I think it is one of the wisest and gracious things I've ever heard. I've heard it from time to time over the years, but this week, it really has penetrated my heart.
We don't know what goes on in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people around us. Sometimes, the ones who seem to have it the most together are the ones who are really grasping at a final thread. Sometimes, when someone snaps at us or is cross, it really has nothing to do with the person, moment, or situation at hand, but about the battle they may be fighting internally.
In dealing with difficult people, I often step back and ask the Lord to allow me to see them as He sees them. This approach has radically changed the way I deal with conflict. If someone offends me, says something hurtful, or acts in a way that is unpleasant, I try to see the root of their pain. I once heard it said that "wounded people wound people". In most cases, if someone is causing you pain, it is coming from their own internal pain.
How much more peace would we have if we all remembered to be kind and not assume that everything is completely about us?
How would we respond to insults if we realized that they may be coming from a place of great pain?
Would we take things less personally?
Would we hold fewer grudges?
I know that there have been times in my life where I have been in great emotional, mental, and internal turmoil. In those times, I know I have lashed out at the people who have only wanted to help me. It's part of our human nature and not so different from that of the animal kingdom. Imagine a dog who has been in a fight and is wounded. Even though he knows his owner loves him, his pain overrides that knowledge and reacts. He may snarl or bite at anyone who causes him more pain by trying to cleanse his wounds so they may heal. It's just his instinct, as it is ours sometimes in moments of great pain.
So, it bears repeating:
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
You never know when you may need for someone to be kind to you.