A woman is screaming at the park. Running frantically toward a concrete staircase, she has a baby attached to her in a carrier. She is chasing two smaller children who are running away from her, out of the park and into a nearby field. I am watching and feeling empathetic toward her. I can only imagine what she might be feeling in this moment. Fear? Embarrassment? Lack of control? We've all felt these emotions, and instead of seeing her as someone to be criticized, I recognize someone like me.
I struggle too, although it's not always so visible. I don't always share my trials, even with my closest friends. I don't intentionally hide these things, but they don't come up easily in conversations. These days, I am trying to accept my challenges as a part of being human. As I practice, I look for the strange gifts that come with struggling: gratitude, perspective, and recognition of joy, to name a few. Often the gifts, even in the midst of troublesome times, can be found in the ordinary experiences of daily life.
These gifts aren't always easy to spot, even when we try to step back from our own life and take a good look. But when I do truly look at my life - even when it's hard - I see goodness. A mom who cares deeply. A child who hears that she is loved just as she is. A husband and father who tirelessly supports with words, actions, and presence. A family with enough. Enough to be sustained and enough to experience sincere love in its raw form.
I admit it's often easier to use a lens of compassion and grace outside my own home. When I look at the mom, yelling at her children, it's evident that circumstances are hard and life is struggle. When I look at the elderly woman smiling, I sees years of love and story. When I look at the dad playing with his daughter, I see someone valuing another by offering attention and time. When I see children including others, I think, here are kids we can look to and learn from. When I see police officers extending compassion, it's clear they are doing a difficult job well. When I see an unstably housed man smiling and waving, I think of his consistent kindness to my daughter and myself.
When I look at information about our world, and when I look at my own life, I can feel overwhelmed. It is easy enough to feel that negativity is palpable, oppressive even. But when we pull back, we can see from a different perspective. We gain ways of reaching into our own lives and the lives of strangers and pulling out something altogether new. Isn't there brilliance in others? Isn't there radiance in ourselves and our loved ones too? As we search for new eyes with which to see, we take up courage to discover goodness where it has dwelled all along.