“I can’t believe how rude she is,” I thought to myself. “How could someone be so inconsiderate of so many? She probably has no friends or loved ones who can stand her! Can’t she see all 50 of us are waiting in line for the cashiers?” “Jeez lady,” I continued to myself, “if it is that painful for you to stand here in line…maybe you just need to leave…go home and take a pill! Get a hold of yourself!”
It was the thought “get a hold of yourself” that shook me out of my own thoughts of assumption and judgment towards the woman who was standing in line in front of me. I reminisced about how many times had I said those same words to myself when I was emotionally falling apart and acting out. “Come on Stac! Get ahold of yourself!”
“Are you ok?” I asked the women as our eyes met. “Is there anything that I can do to support you right now, you seem to be having a challenge waiting in line,” I continued.
A look of surprise immediately took over the older woman’s face; so much so that it startled me. And I instantly wondered if I just should have kept my mouth shut and kept staring at the ground. I braced myself for the three-ring shit show I was sure was going to take place next.
“No, no, I am not ok,” she said as she looked away in embarrassment. Slowly glancing back at me she said, “My son died two weeks ago at the age of 41, and I have not been the same since. He left behind a wife and two girls ages 7 and 3.”
I told her, “You are a woman in need of some love.” And I immediately stepped forward and wrapped my arms around her as she began to cry on my shoulder.
The woman broke our embrace and said, “This is my first time out since it all happened…and the girls…how do I help them go on?
“My dad died when I was seven,” I reply, “I am that 7-year-old granddaughter of yours. After my dad’s funeral, the visits from family and friends, the cards and flowers…my mom said to my siblings and I ‘The sun will shine in this house, whether it is shining outside or not. We will go on, we will have birthdays, vacations, and celebrations. We will laugh and be happy again. We will live!’”
Oh the comfort this still gives me almost 50 years later.
“It was my incredible mom,” I continue, “she lead all five of her children out of the dark sadness of death and unfulfilled dreams. That is what your girls need from you.”
With that, she smiled and her face now had a look of relief. “Thank you,” she said, “I so needed to hear your words today. I can’t believe this is happening. Oh my gosh, I can’t wait to get home, to tell them and to let them know that we are going to live!” With tears streaming down both of our faces, we share one last embrace.
“Next,” the cashier announces.
As I get into my car, I think about how incredibly grateful I am for my shared moments with this stranger…all because I let go of what I thought I knew, stepped into the possibility of creating a new understanding, and gained the greatest gift of all as a result: human connection.
“Let go of what you think you know and seek understanding. This will lead to the greatest experience of all…human connection!” -Staci Bartley
The truth is, we all can be assholes…admit it! And we all judge others and make assumptions as to why they are behaving the way they are, don’t we?
And guess what? I guarantee that 99.9% of the time you don’t have a clue, you just think you do!
Where are you making assumptions and judging others harshly just like I did? Are you doing it with your partner, your kids, or your co-workers?
I challenge you to let go of what you think you know…seek a new understanding by asking compassionate questions.
The connection that will happen as a result, I assure you, will feel fabulous!
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