I’ve thought about this quote here and there since I first read it, yet it wasn’t until very recently that it became permanently etched into my mind. It has been a constant reminder to not judge others around me or assume the worst about a person’s behavior when I know nothing about who they are or what their situation might be at the time.
You see, we have been battling an infestation of bed bugs in our home over the past two months, and it’s brought me to a new level of compassion and humility. I always thought bed bugs were a product of an unsanitary or neglected home or an unfortunate night in a dirty motel room, but as I’ve come to find out, bed bugs can happen to anyone, anywhere, and for any reason.
When the bite marks first showed up on one of our children I figured it was an allergic reaction to something he ate or the new laundry detergent I’d just purchased. However, as the mornings passed with more and more little, red, itchy bumps showing up all over his body, I started to investigate more closely. What I found when I lifted up his mattress was absolutely horrifying: these sneaky and unwelcome house guests had been making their homes inside every crevice and fiber of his box spring and mattress. I was in absolute shock!
Every morning after that I would wake up and put on my bed bug battle gear and march straight into the war zone. I’d strip all the beds, wash all the linens, scrub down the baseboards and walls, and vacuum the carpets, I personally like to use carpet cleaning Atlanta any time I need to clean up my carpets and when I need to do a full house cleaning I like to hire domestic cleaners offered by Monster Cleaning services, they are one of the best cleaning companies. My husband would come home later in the afternoon and sprinkle exterminating powders on the mattresses and spray poisons in the nooks and crannies of the rooms infected. My husband and I both worked relentlessly day and night to eradicate this serious problem in our home.
When an entire week would go by with no bites, we’d celebrate, thinking they were gone for good. Then suddenly one of our children would wake up with red, itchy bumps and we’d be back at it again. There were many days when I would wake up so cranky and overwhelmed that I didn’t want to go anywhere or speak to anyone. I’d drop my kids off at school with barely a smile on my face knowing that I had to turn around, go home, and immerse myself in the bed bug madness.
I also found myself avoiding my neighbors and friends because I didn’t want to tell anyone about our big problem. I felt embarrassed about it and didn’t want to be judged or looked down upon. During this experience I often wondered if I was coming off as rude or standoffish to those around me.
Most days the only way I could deal with the stress was by closing myself off from the rest of the world. I mean, have you ever tried putting on a happy face while there were bugs living in your beds and biting on your children? I personally couldn’t do it and I didn’t even want to pretend to try.
When we finally eradicated the problem for good and said goodbye to the last of the bed bug bites, I was able to relax and return to normal life again. As I crawled my way back to the ordinariness of my daily routines and existence I made the huge realization that people had truly been kind to me this entire time without me really noticing.
In fact, people had been loving to me on days when I needed to feel loved, people had smiled at me even when I refused to smile back, and people had been friendly to me even while I was unfriendly and fighting the worst of this battle alone. Looking back on this experience, I had been enveloped in the warm cocoon of a nurturing community of people that still treated me with kindness even though they knew nothing of what I was going through.
This experience taught me a profound lesson in compassion and non-judgement. We all have our daily battles. Some are more severe than others, yet each one is valid. I realized that at any given moment I could run into someone who is fighting something extremely hard for them: perhaps it’s a mom at the store who is buying medicine for a very sick child, or a neighbor who may have been up all night worrying about her wayward teenager, or the little boy at the park who is acting out because he isn’t treated well at home. Or maybe, just maybe, the mom I saw scowling in line at the supermarket this morning was buying shampoo to treat head lice on her children at home!
Nobody is immune to difficult life experiences, including those unexpected situations such as medical problems, accidents, or even infestations of bed bugs. I hope I can always remember to be kind (for everyone is fighting a battle I know nothing about).
QUESTION: How has someone shown you kindness when you were struggling with something difficult?
CHALLENGE: Remember that a smile or kind act could make a huge impact on someone else’s day. Try to imagine that everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about and your attitude could help improve their entire experience.
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer and Sarah Monson.
Image from Pixabay; graphics by Anna Jenkins.