A year or so ago, I randomly met a guy that I was immediately intimidated by, and I’m not usually a person who gets intimidated by others easily. But this guy was sharp looking, appeared extremely confident and I assumed he had life by the tail.
Within minutes of meeting him though, he shared that his wife had recently left him and he was struggling with an addiction.
“I’m depressed and I’ve never felt more broken in my life,” he said. “I’m so unsure of everything.”
It wasn’t at all what I expected.
A few things to remember whenever you (or I) think we know someone’s story:
1. Never Assume.
Never assume you know who someone is or what they’re going through. We’re all pretty good at hiding things. We tend to “Instagram” our lives as much as we possibly can.
Instead of assuming, get to know a person. Hear their story. Ask questions and listen.
Talk to someone for a while before you make (good or bad) assumptions about what their life is like based on what it looks like from the outside.
2. Everyone Has a Battle.
The saying, “Everyone is fighting a battle of some kind” is true. It looks different for each person, but everyone we meet is walking through something or has in the past.
Often we believe the lie that we’re the only ones.
The only person that has made an embarrassing mistake.
Struggled with a temptation.
Walked through a certain trial.
But we’re not.
Some battles are noticeable, others not so much, but everyone is wrestling with something.
If only we’d slow down and take notice.
3. Be Quick to Be Kind.
We are so quick to judge, criticize and hate on people. Be quick to show kindness instead.
Feeling like judging someone? Gossiping? Pray instead.
Knowing that others are fighting battles of their own should change the way we treat them.
Instead of being a jerk to someone who’s being a jerk, encourage them. Give grace. Serve.
Kindness has the power to change people from the inside out.
Yes, these things can change the other person. But also, they can change you. They can change me.
4. Share Your Brokenness.
Don’t be afraid to share your brokenness.
Often, I think that sharing my imperfections will make others think less of me. But when I heard a small part of that guy’s story, it made me respect and appreciate him even more.
Share where you have failed in the past. Your struggles. Your disappointments.
Everyone’s got something.
Adam Weber is the founder and lead pastor of Embrace—a church that has six campuses in South Dakota and Minnesota—and the author of Talking With God: What to Say When You Don’t Know How to Pray (WaterBrook, 2017). This article was originally published on AdamWeber.com.