I approached the counter of the vendor as I had previously done on countless other occasions, ready to engage in friendly, but witty banter. She seemed quiet, however. Withdrawn. So I internally tamed my wit and simply conducted business, after greeting her kindly. Turns out her friend had just died. She had no obligation to share that information with me, but chose to do so anyway. I expressed my sincere sympathy.
Everyday I encounter people in the midst of their daily struggles. So do you. The professional veneer that most maintain belies what is going on beneath the surface. It reminds me that the grace I hope to receive likewise is my responsibility to offer.
Who knows what heartache others bear as they respond too harshly to situations? Am I willing to demonstrate empathy? Compassion? Even in the face of anger and mistreatment? Too often, no. I’ve become far too adept at parrying their barbs with my own witty ripostes.
Sometimes the most helpful response is that of quiet and empathy. The silence speaks volumes out of a heart of compassion, but harsh words exploit tender places of the heart with the aim of inflicting injury.