I decided it would be a good idea to sit on the back patio for breakfast this morning. That always seems to be a great option when the weather cooperates. Most important of all, it gives Leo the opportunity to exercise – chasing bugs, birds and squirrels, of course. All of that is great unless you consider it was still dark. I was up early and enjoying my morning coffee, even catching up on some emails I had missed. Sure, it was dark, but the moon was bright and our neighborhood is always lit up like Christmas. So it’s not like it was actually dark dark – you know, when you say it twice, it is the dark that keeps you from seeing what is right in front of you.
All was going well for a while. Then, something captured Leo’s attention. I saw him sitting by me staring. He is hardly ever still when we are outside. I asked him what he was looking at and he only glanced back at me – but wouldn’t take his eye off whatever for long. Whatever it was finally bothered him enough he began to bark. That means he woke up Gracie (my mom’s dog next door). I don’t think Gracie had a clue, but she decided to bark too – because that’s what Gracie does. And then there was a symphony of barks. I let Leo know he needed to be quiet – he was waking up the whole neighborhood. We ended up having to come inside so he would relax.
What was it? I have no idea. I didn’t see a thing. And if I’m honest, Leo can bark if a tree limb falls. He can also ignore an animal walking by. So I haven’t quite figured out what makes him upset. I can’t always tell what riles him up. I can’t always see what he sees or detect what he detects. I don’t always know what is bothering him.
We meet people all the time that are struggling. They are angry or upset. They are telling someone off or seem to be mad at the whole world. There are people who seem to try to make others upset – to get something started. There are folks that just seem beat down. We tend to make snap judgments. We call them names. We decide they are angry, bitter, hateful people. But we don’t actually see what they see. We don’t have any idea what they are dealing with. We are in the dark as to what they have going on. We have decided based on an outward action what type of person they are. And this isn’t fair. We don’t know what home looks like. We don’t know if they have been laid off from their job or their relationship is abusive. We don’t know if they are dealing with a diagnosis they don’t know what to do with. We don’t know if they are struggling to feed their kids. We don’t know. We simply take what we see in the dark and make assumptions. And we might just miss it all. That’s why it is so important to be kind. That’s why we can’t take the reactions of people at face value. We are not called to judge, we are called to love. And love is what makes the difference, not opinions. May we shine a light of love on someone’s dark situation today. And maybe shine a little light into our own lives, through the amazing love of God.
1 Thessalonians 3:11-12
11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you. 12 And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we abound in love for you.
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