I was driving the other day, and when I came to stoplight I noticed the car in front of me had a "New Driver" bumper sticker on the back. I made a mental note to change lanes as soon as possible. Before I was able to, I noticed that the car was driving much slower than expected, signaled to turn 145,367,345 feet in advance, and probably kept the exact spacing measurement between themselves and the car in front of it that they advise in Driver's Ed. What a good little ruler follower. Someone please explain to me what that is like.
Thankfully, having seen the bumper sticker, I knew and expected certain things in advance that, had I not known the background of the story, would have left me quick to become annoyed and frustrated.
It made me think, what if we were all walking around with bumper stickers on our head? "Abused as a child" "Adopted" "One of 6 brothers and sisters on welfare" "Addicted" "Lonely" "Heartbroken" "Depressed"
We generally know these things about our best friends, but not our coworkers, acquaintances, or strangers we interact with in our day to day lives. What if we had the backstory on everyone's life? I think I would be much more quick to extend grace and compassion, and less quick to become irritated at small offenses or even simply ambivalent, quick to get my own needs met, my own errands done, accomplish my priorities, run my own day.
We all have good things and hard things. People have assumed that my life is perfect because my instagram makes it appear that way. I assure you, it is not. No one's life, marriage, family, career, is perfect, as much as it can seem that way on the outside. It's both good and hard for all of us. If only we had bumper stickers that publicly told the whole story.
My husband and I know some very special people with some very real and present physical and mental limitations. Being around them brings joy to my life, because I feel like they see things in a way that I don't. They're not tainted by the need to impress or make the outward appearance (body/home/instagram/etc) appear "perfect." It is refreshing for me to be around. We see their limitations, and we extend grace. Sometimes I wonder if our loss and limitations are just as present, just as real and just as needing of love and grace and acceptance, but are simply less visible.
Seeing that bumper sticker reminded me that we almost never have the full story. I hope I can be the kind of person who is so much more quick to extend grace, knowing that everyone has their own bumper sticker of pain and loss and hard things, even if they just aren't as apparent as someone else's.