What signs are we wearing?

A time ago, I was checking out blogs, following one link to the next, when I ran across this article. It really made me think about people differently. In fact, it had such an impact that I included it in a talk I gave in church several months ago.

Basically the gist of the article is this woman shares an experience they had. Her and her husband owned a lovely, large farm where they raised horses. Her husband was in an accident that caused damage to his brain. As a result of the accident he became a different person (he eventually recovered). He was angry, couldn't work, depressed and just difficult to be with. Because of his condition and bills, their financial situation changed.

Periodically he would come around and be the person she knew. At one of these points, she told him how stretched they were financially. He immediately went to work and parked much of what they owned out by the road, tractor, boat, cars, and put for sale signs on them. He also got a big sign, you know the one with big letters, and listed stuff they had for sale. While the couple was sitting in front of their house, looking at what use to be a neatly manicured lawn which had now become overgrown with weeds, the phone rang. Here husband answered it and turned away from her attempting to shield her from the coversation, but this is what she heard....

“You are bringing down the value of my property with that ugly sign!”

“What are you doing?”

“That is the most obnoxious sign, do you have a permit to have that out there?”

“Are you starting a used car lot?”

“You have got to get all of that moved and out of here or I am calling the authorities”

She was mortified. But this was her husband's response...

“Sir,” he said, “There was a time in this country, in this community…when if you drove past your neighbor’s house and saw every single thing they own was for sale in front of their house…and that their lawn had not been mowed for weeks….that you would stop and say….WHAT IS GOING ON, SOMETHING MUST BE TERRIBLY WRONG, WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP YOU?”

The man was silent…..and then my husband went on to tell him a few details about what was going on with our family….

The man waited a moment and then his tone changed…..he apologized….I mean, really apologized and then said…

“I am going to call all of my friends and see if any of them need any of this stuff….”

How often do we judge people based upon our own circumstances. We see a child who is out of control and think that parent needs to get a handle on him or her. Maybe we don't know that that child has physical or mental challenges. We see someone who is standoffish and unfriendly. Maybe we don't know they are depressed or going through some tough personal situations.

Hasn't there been times when you where going through something tough and wish that you could just wear a sign around your neck saying something like this...

I love the way she ends her article

I wish with everything in me that we could have put a sign up on that big stupid lit up billboard in our field that said OUR LIFE IS FALLING APART…. but all that we really could put up is a sign with the price of everything that we owned that was worth any money…….

WHAT IF we could all wear a sign that said what WE REALLY MEANT? What if we could go straight past the small talk……..or the masks…….and we could actually go straight to the heart of the matter…….what if our friends and family wore signs like this?

…we would treat each other differently.

I think we should just try to imagine it………that when a friend is quiet…or not showing up to stuff she usually shows up to….or acting a little “off”….or a family member is wearing pajamas to the grocery store for weeks on end……or not answering the phone…..or the lawn is not mowed…..

whatever it is……….

IT IS A SIGN. It is not a sign that can be read in words and letters, but it is a sign that someone needs to be treated gently…that they need help….most of all, that they need love, understanding…and that they DEFINITELY DO NOT need to be judged.

Every time I think of this story….I want to be better…I want to do better, I don’t want any silent signs to go unread before my eyes or my heart…..I don’t want to make up my own answers to what must be going on…I don’t want to assume………..

Let’s be gentle with each other.

Let’s read each other’s signs.

This is the LINK to the whole article if you are interested.

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