This week as I was watching the long range forecast on the local TV weather report, I was struck by an interchange. I must say, we have been blessed with an amazingly mild fall (well, until this week). We’ve enjoyed many days of 60s and sunny. When looking at the forecast, however, there were predicted a few colder days, and then a warming trend by the end of the week. As the weather reporter shared this forecast and noted disappointment in the cooling trend, the other newscaster commented “But it’ll be warming right back up there by the end of the week.”
At the time, it felt like the other newscaster’s comment was dismissive of the weather person’s observations. Rather than an acknowledgment of her feelings about the cooling trend, he went right to why it won’t be so bad.
On today’s jog, I passed a neighbor out getting her mail in front of her property. On her land in the last year, two additional homes have been built, one for her sister and one for her mother. As I jogged by, I mentioned how blessed she was, especially during these times, to have family close by. I had intended for it to literally be a passing comment but she engaged me in further conversation. It was clear she wanted to chat more, seemingly burdened, so I stopped. As we talked, it was true she was very happy to have her families’ new homes nearby, but as I said COVID will be better by next summer she said, “Yes, but we have to get through winter.” I listened, and we processed further before I continued my jog. I was being given an opportunity to not be dismissive of my neighbor’s feelings.
It was clear that I looked at my neighbor’s situation as an amazing blessing. She too, could feel that, and yet her perspective was more influenced by the burden of living with COVID and all the precautions we must take for months now in order to be safe, even when interacting with family. As I listened to her, I could better appreciate her feelings about a long, cold Maine winter as a real hurdle needing to be overcome before days of less stress which may be here in the spring and summer, whether or not having family in the interim is a blessing.
It is true we have a challenging few months coming up, especially living in this part of the country. Yet, this is literally just a season. God willing, lives are long. Those of our grandparents or great grandparents who lived through The Great Depression had to do without for a while, and yet, many lived long lives afterward to enjoy better days of plenty. Especially regarding COVID, sacrificing in the short run for the good of ourselves, for the good of others, helps to shorten the length of the time of deprivation. Hopefully, most of us are here for the long haul, not just for ourselves, but also, to be here for those we love and who love us.
These are the rational arguments. Yet we are all emotionally wired differently, and it’s especially important during these times of common challenges, especially if you are more of a glass half full person, to be sensitive to the perspective of others feeling the harsh truths of these times differently than you may be doing. We are in common struggles, but our perspectives, our realities, of how we will live through the challenges are unique to each of us.
The interchange with my neighbor immediately reminded me of what I had observed in that weather forecast interchange. I was reminded of how our comments can easily feel dismissive to another whose perspective is different than our own. We may not even feel differently about the actual hurdle, but the way we express ourselves can feel as if we do, especially if we are more oriented to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I thanked HaShem that He had opened my eyes to that communication nuance during the weather report in such a seemingly offhand way to sensitize me to and prepare me for my conversation with my neighbor, whose feelings of fear and anxiety were so palpable to me, and whose concerns needed to be heard, felt, addressed, and not dismissed.
Our Abba is teaching each of us, even in our everyday activities, through experiences as trivial as watching the weather report. I encourage you to listen for His whisperings as He prepares each of us to better love each other.