My boyfriend and I recently moved into an apartment together and I’ll never forget the day we were moving in, a mean dog lunged at my sisters boyfriend growling and showing teeth as the owner yanked him down the stairs. We see them on a consistent basis and each time the dog viciously growls at whoever gets too close while the owner yanks him away without an apology or a simple smile. Since we recently got a little puppy we are extra cautious of them. We are always saying, “Watch out for the evil dog and mean lady!”
Little did I know that these two would serve as a beautiful reminder for me. The other day, Andrew and I were making our way back to the apartment after walking Nash and boom, there they were. The face on the mean woman softened as soon as she laid eyes on Nash. As she was fighting to tame her dog she uttered, “how lucky to have a puppy to train from the beginning. Mine was adopted and had a terrible upbringing.” My heart stopped for a second in my chest. EVERYONE HAS A STORY. The dog is not evil, he is afraid! The same goes for the women. While I have no idea what exactly their stories entail, I only need to be reminded that they have one. This is enough to replace my anger towards them with compassion. Instead of feeding their anger, hate and fear with more anger, hate and fear, what if I chose love? Now, every time I see them I make a point to say “hello”, even with no response. I look in the barking dogs eyes and see him for what he really is, a scared yet precious dog with a bad past who doesn’t know any other way. I soften my heart and give him a smile, secretly sending him some love.
The reality is, everyone has had experiences that were meant to break their heart wide open. Regardless of what your painful experience was, the choice is always the same. What will you do with your pain? Will you use it as an excuse to give fear authority on how you live your life or will you choose to forgive and love again? This question will continuously present itself in your life until the answer you give becomes your own liberation. What will you choose?
I hope you choose freedom,
“Everyone has a story to tell that will stop your heart.” -Claudia Shear