when you finally see them

11:19 AM

I've had something on my mind for a while now... The thoughts knitting themselves into sentences. I've texted with friends about it, I've picked apart Kevin's brain late at night my face to the cool pillow and the light of the street lamp casting shadows of pine trees on the walls. I've read about it and thrown paragraphs haphazardly into journals. Humans. Souls. Connection. Friendship. Hearts. Beating. Eyes searching. Hands stretching...
What is this need inside us to be known and to know? To say me too and hear those precious words back. To be heard and perhaps, as we get older, to listen too. What is it in us that turned Facebook and Instagram into million dollar companies that changed the world? Why are we always searching for ways to connect? And when we do are we actually connecting? Is if fulfilling or draining? Is it authentic or fake? Are we gaining or losing? Is that rectangular device so often found in the palm of our hands evil or is it special? Perhaps even both?
When I look at myself and my own use of social media and the way it has morphed and changed over the years I see that it is really, ultimately, a reflection of myself and the state of my heart and soul. When I am at peace and my heart is full I see beauty and kindness. I am grateful for the souls out there that touch mine with gentle words of encouragement and support. I don't "need" it or "crave" it, instead it is a delightful little cherry on top of what already feels like a wonderful day.
However, it is when I'm vulnerable, when I'm feeling self-conscious and questioning things that I see it feed into the most negative parts of my being - the needy, scared, bottomless pit of desire part of myself. It starts a cycle of stripping myself more and more bare in hopes of being swathed in the appreciation of others. But emptiness almost always begets more emptiness and with time I feel completely drained and alone. Because taking never invites giving, it's the other way around.
And so over the years I've learned to heed the warning signs and to step back. To fill the void with things of true lasting substance instead of the quick fix of crowd adoration. And I've learned to love myself through it all.
No one can truly ever understand us. No one will ever see the many layers that compose our hearts and souls. Not everyone will be able to see all the good intentions behind our worst mistakes. The decade long hurts that we nurse on dark days. The brokenness we live with and the tears we shed late at night. The way we don't have it all together most of the time and those secret moments on inner pride when we pump our fists in the air while sitting alone in the car. No one will ever piece together the quilt that makes up our triumphs, failures, joys and heartaches the way only we can.
But I chose to believe this about others. I chose to believe that no one starts the day with intention to hurt or screw up. Because, perhaps, if we all just try a little harder to see each other for the complex, multifaceted, confusing and contradictory people that we are we will see each other with more grace.

One of my favorite quotes from my favorite books is:

“Atticus, he was real nice." 
"Most people are, Scout, when you finally see them."

And so I try to see that. I try to see that we're all just doing our best. We're all loving our children and hoping all that Peppa Pig doesn't kill them. We're all just trying to love and date our spouse through all the bills, laundry, oil changes, diapers and dishes. We're all just trying to grab our dream way out of the sky and run with it while we still have the strength and heart to do it. We're trying to care and love and work and lose those last five pounds and remember to turn off the stove. 
I guess what I'm saying is that I hope we can learn to cut each other some slack. I hope we can learn to see the best in people even when they're showing us their worst. I hope we're the kind of friend that doesn't just show up at the hospital when someone's sick but genuinely celebrate with you when you get that promotion, reach your dream or find your forever home. I hope we don't look for differences as a reason to pull away but as a cause for delving deeper. I hope we always challenge ourselves to not just look at the cover but actually READ it. Get to know someone you think you have nothing in common with, read a book that completely opposes everything you believe, pick up a hobby that terrifies you or buy that black dress to break up all the white. Let's stop being scared of getting our hands dirty, of jumping off the ledge or taking a wrong turn. We're here, right now, today. Let's make it interesting. 

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