An interesting day.
A day spent offline only to log into my inbox and see five emails from concerned colleagues that someone was blatantly stealing my work.
Some of the emails were filled with link after link to offending pages of event copy while others cut and paste things for me to read. Most were filled with great emotion, some expressed disappointment, and a few others made accusations.
I deleted them.
And in that moment, I realized…there was a time I wouldn’t have hit the Delete button so quickly.
There was a time that I would get up in arms, churning within and strategizing how to get even or make things right.
Sitting in front of my computer screen, there was no vengeance in my heart.
All I felt was compassion for this person… and a renewed desire to better use all of the gifts within and around me in a way that could not be copied by any other person alive.
What made the difference?
A couple recent experiences came to mind.
The first was completing Walking with Justice over the past year, the story of my life’s greatest mentor. Putting in words the greatness of this man and the impact of his love and lessons deepened my desire to bring healing whenever and wherever I can. Writing this book profoundly impacted how I want to show up on a daily basis.
The second was my work with my community in the wake of losing three teen boys to suicide last spring. I witnessed the devastating effects of fear and finger pointing and scapegoating in an attempt to feel better or “make things right”.
It was a lot to take in… seeing a child hurt to such an extent that ending his life seemed the best solution. Seeing families senselessly lose a son and a brother. Seeing school staff at a loss for answers and going far beyond what you’d expect from an educational institution to focus on saving lives. Seeing a community in the depths of grief, searching for ways to heal while grasping on to the faint light of hope, knowing to our core that we needed to find a way to face forward and move toward that tiny sliver of light.
I found myself asking how could I dare judge others in the midst of this loss and grief? There appeared only one response that made sense: love and compassion.
In a recent training for school staff about the core assets kids need to be healthy and develop resilience, the trainer told a story of a high school girl who said school was great…until 4th hour. At that time she had a teacher who belittled the students and made them feel small. She left his class drained each day and it was affecting her whole school experience and the quality of her life. With a great deal of maturity and insight she commented, “This got better one day when I realized that as a kid, he didn’t have anyone in his life building him up. He was never given the support he needed so he doesn’t have it to give to us.”
Another student beseeched the trainer, “Can you please feed these teachers so they stop eating the kids?”
I will believe until the day I die that very few people are evil or mean intentioned. The vast majority of people who hurt others are doing the best they can until they hit a wall that is defined by this truth: you cannot give to others what you do not have.
Sadly, we live in a world where many adults were not nourished as children. Many children today are not being nourished. Even with the best of intentions, this often leads to hurting oneself and hurting others.
Our future revolves on caring and helping each other fill ourselves from inside out.
The next time someone does something that appears to be a direct assault on you, step back. Recenter on love and compassion and broaden the lens you are bringing to the situation. Fully entertain the possibility that the offender is not out to get you. They may just want some relief from their pain and are doing the best that they can.
The next step?
Shift back to your greatest work and service to others. You may not be in a position to directly bring relief to the person taking hurtful actions, but you are surrounded by people hungry for your love, compassion, tools, and solutions.
Take a good look around you.
What are you going to do to feed others today?
And please remember…feed yourself.