Like 77,348 other residents of my city, I have no electricity.
A routine summer thunderstorm blew through Saturday afternoon with anything-but-routine winds that downed lines and blew transformers all over the city. Outages were widespread, and the electric company quickly announced it would take days to get everyone back on the grid.
At church the next morning, everyone was talking about the outages. “How’d you do in the storm?” ”How was your morning?” ”Do you have power?” ”Do you need anything?” ”Can I help?”
I loved to see the kindness and gentleness people had for each other as many of us arrived with wet hair we couldn’t blow dry and ready to pounce on the coffee because we couldn’t make any at home. We all knew that, as mornings go, this one may have been a rough one.
The trouble is, we don’t always know.
Take last weekend. The weather was fine, but my Sunday morning was far from smooth-sailing. Thundercracks from another summer storm had disturbed everyone’s sleep, and the kids woke up tired and cranky. I made my morning coffee, then spilled it everywhere–over me, the couch, my books, and right down into the vent. Cleaning it up took forever. I didn’t bother making more–there’s coffee at church. My kids were tired and whiny, I was testy, we were late.
We finally got to church–late. Later than late. And there was no coffee. (Insert horrified gasp here.) There is always coffee. But not today. (I’m not sure why–probably the person on brewing duty that day had a worse morning than me and was running late.)
I felt fragile, as if one cold glance, or whining child, or bathroom line might completely unglue me. I wanted to paste a sign to my chest that said: “Be nice to this woman. She is having a hard day!”
On the outside, I’m pretty sure I looked great. (Or at least decent!) I was not great.
I passed on this one the first time around:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
After that awful morning I went back to Pinterest to find and save it. Because it’s worth remembering: be kind to the people you meet, because you don’t know what they’re going through. No matter how great they look on the outside.
Sometimes you can just tell by looking at someone that things aren’t going well, sometimes you know because you’ve read the news, sometimes–like with my power outage–you’re with them in the same boat.
But many times, you just can’t tell when someone’s having a rough time. And it’s for these times I’m reminding myself to be kind to those I meet, because I just can’t tell by looking if they spilled their coffee down the vent and yelled at their kids this morning.
Don’t ask me how I know.