Let me paint a picture for you:
A divorced mom of three is unemployed. The bills keep showing-up on time and mouthes still need to be fed. With each passing day the weight of her situation increases, and she finds herself crying almost daily. On top of the added financial stresses of unemployment, she still faces all the same daily challenges and responsibilities, like parenting a teenager, navigating co-parenting with an ex she wishes she never had to see again, homework, household chores, etc. . . the list goes on and on. Sometimes she feels like superwoman, with big ideas for how to improve her life and chase her dreams, and sometimes she’s so overwhelmed by paralyzing fear that she doesn’t feel strong enough to get off the couch. She wants to be happy around her children so they don’t worry, and the energy it takes to be okay when she isn’t is especially draining, but she chooses to put on a confident, positive face day after day because she wants her children to feel safe.
She finds healthy distraction and an outlet for dealing with her stress in fitness, cooking and eating well, dancing like no one is watching, and driving with the windows down. There is adventure and joy in her spirit that wants to be center stage, and thankfully her passion for life and her love for others tips the scale toward happiness more than sadness every single day. She’s strong and has faith that this season of challenge and change is temporary.
Each evening the house becomes quiet, and when all the lights are out and the children are asleep, she prays and meditates and journals about everything she’s thankful for, while hoping her mind will slow down enough to allow her to fall asleep. Quality rest is infrequent, which makes her body feel tired and adds to her emotional turmoil. Sometimes the silence is deafening and sometimes it’s peaceful. Either way the day comes to an end with the hope that tomorrow will bring new light, new adventure, and more joy than sorrow.
Anyone who interacts with her sees light and laughter, and wouldn’t know that her world feels upside-down right now. She is determined to live life to the fullest, and definitely doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her because she believes she’s blessed and capable of turning things around, even if she doesn’t know how quite yet. But there’s a loneliness that comes with carrying the responsibility of her family on her own, and the need for someone to see beyond her positivity and acknowledge her bravery.
In everything you do, and with everyone you encounter, please remember that we are all facing something, healing from something, afraid of something, worrying about something, dreaming about something, and everyone is in need of more human kindness, understanding, patience, and genuine care. While we all put on a brave face to interact with the world around us, if we assume there’s a story behind every smile that is an equal combination of light and darkness, maybe we’ll all treat each other with a little more heart and a lot less judgement.