I drove 70 miles south of my current home to the city where I grew up. My mind racing wildly as I contemplated the fact that my mom was in ICU and was not doing well. I took the exit from the highway and by memory took the road leading to the hospital. This is the same hospital where I was born and where other babies in our family have arrived into the world and where dear ones that I loved have died. Mixed feelings overtook me and I was scared and preoccupied as I pulled into the parking lot. Arriving at the same time was a young man with his window rolled down, music blaring, covered in piercings and tattoos. He cut me off at a turn and pulled into the spot I had been eyeing in the very full parking lot. Quite frankly I was annoyed. I had to circle the lot three more times before I was able to park.
I found my way through the maze of the hospital to the ICU waiting area where I met my family and was ushered quietly into the area of very sick people, those on the brink of existence. I was overwhelmed by my thoughts and by the sight of my mom in such a predicament. After meeting with the doctor I began heading back to the waiting area where I saw the young kid from the parking lot. This time he opened the door for me and said, “Sorry about stealing your spot.” My heart immediately softened. He proceeded to tell me his story that his brother was in a very serious motorcycle accident and he was beside himself with worry that he wouldn’t make it to the hospital to see him, he was told he could die.
It is amazing when all is stripped away and we are left with our very raw human emotions how we all are more alike than unalike.
I thought about my first impression of this young man and how he had annoyed me. I thought he was a reckless and selfish kid when really he was a kind young man who adored his big brother and was scared to death he might never see him alive again. I think most of us are keenly aware of our own struggles because typically if we are struggling with something it becomes our intense preoccupation. I was so preoccupied with my own issue I never thought someone else in the hospital parking lot could be struggling as well. I was made aware of my own selfish heart and tendencies by the very person I had accused of being selfish.
If we each walked through our days thinking that others could be struggling, I think we all would be kinder and more loving individuals. I am reminded of the quote by Ian MacLaren, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind – Always.”
Thankfully both of our loved ones made it out of ICU and are on the road to recovery. I smiled, gave the young man a hug and promised to pray for his brother. I walked down the hall quietly thanking this young man with the crazy tattoos for the lesson in kindness and love abounding.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12 NIV
Have you ever judged someone’s actions without knowing what really was going on?