I like to people watch. If I had all the free time in the world, I'd probably go to a public spot, sit on a bench, and just watch people. People are fascinating. When I run, I think about the people who live in the homes I pass. I wonder what goes on inside. On the rare occasions when I have the chance to sit and watch others, I wonder what their lives are like, what they've experienced in their lifetimes. I like knowing what's happened in people's lives to make them who they are.
Unfortunately, most people keep their life stories to themselves. Fear of judgment renders them incapable of opening their books and turning the pages. They live in hidden depression, secrets forced to the deep, dark recesses of their minds.
They're going through the motions, imitating life.
I have the pleasure of watching the stories of some friends unfold, up-close and personal. My heart breaks with some of them. Their stories, incomplete, seem to be hurling toward disaster with little hope of a different ending. My heart rejoices with others. Their stories, much like mine, have a heart-breaking chapter. But a few chapters later, their stories are flourishing with life, the Gospel alive in them. Every time I have the chance to visit with them, I'm amazed at how God has taken their lives from the brink of disaster and set them on mountains of beauty.
These friends know my story. We share common bonds. I've cried with some of them; I've shared meals and conversations with most of them. I've prayed for them (and continue to do so)...not pious prayers, but prayers from the heart because I've been where they are or were. I've loved them right where they are...because that's how Jesus loves me.
I wonder how many of us have a story to share...experiences in our lives that would help someone else make a different decision, giving their stories a different ending. I wonder if that little girl needs to hear how she can find freedom in Jesus from her home life. I wonder if that couple needs to know that I won't judge them, and that God will offer them grace. I wonder who you know that needs to hear your story, that needs to know you have something in common with them.