Are you getting ready for winter? Maybe summer? It could be Autumn or Spring depending on where you are and when you’re reading this post.
I’m always amused when I get emails from companies telling me that winter’s almost here when we’re about to launch into summer or celebrating the arrival of spring when we’re in autumn.
Our world is so connected now that we see friends on Facebook telling us what a wonderful summer they’re having while we’re shivering in front of a heater.
The Internet often shows us people on the other side of the world in a different season. To them, that is the ‘universal’ experience. They’re so immersed in their own reality that they can forget that we’re in a different season. And we do it too. We talk about what’s going on for us when it’s quite different in other places.
Seasons of Life
I sometimes wonder if in the same way we can be blind to the fact that we can be in a different season in life to others around us. When we assume that just because our lives are sunny that life is sunny for others we can miss the opportunity to be there for someone who is facing a difficult season. We know from our own lives that what is being displayed on the surface isn’t always a great indicator of what’s happening inside.
You might have seen quotes like, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
That doesn’t mean that we have to be treading on eggshells with everyone all the time. We can’t second guess everything we say or be so overly sensitive that we’re frozen into inaction, but it does mean that what seems obvious for us may not be what someone else is experiencing.
There’s a verse in the Bible about how we treat others that most people would know in some form or another.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12
Do Unto Others
We don’t just ‘do unto others’ so that we can expect them to treat us well. The verse doesn’t come with the caveat that we should do well ‘unto others’ as long as they do well ‘unto us’. This isn’t transactional, it’s just about how we should act. We can’t control how others treat us but we can control how we treat others, and that’s what we’re being called to do.
If we would appreciate others treating us gently, even when we muck it up, we need to treat others the same way. If we appreciate being shown kindness, honesty, integrity and respect, we need to be showing those things to others.
That doesn’t mean that we just excuse bad behaviour. I want others to help me become a better person so I appreciate correction, but I want it to come from people who have my back and are concerned for me rather than just someone wanting to pay out on me.
We never know what season others are facing, and we can’t just assume that others are in the same season that we are, so it makes sense that whatever season we are in, we treat others as we would want to be treated in our best or our worst seasons.