Have you ever had one of those days. You know, where things seem to start off okay but then suddenly out of the blue, something bad happens. I had one of those days recently. It was a Sunday. It was a Sunday, not unlike most. I got up and went to church. Church was great. Then not long after coming home, my son said something to me that he ought not to have said, and then, I got furious (It is a rare thing for me to get angry). He promptly locked the door of the room he was in. A wise choice.

I then carried my rage to the kitchen, where I decided to do the dishes which had been left behind by someone else (I must say that doing something physical is a great way to get rid of anger). I then proceeded to express my disgust with the individual who had left all these dishes behind, again. 

Above our sink is a window that looks out our back yard. Even though the warm winter sun was delightful, seeing one of my neighbor's cats walk across my deck again to leave a “little treasure” underneath, was all I could stand. I promptly went outside (temperature rising now) and hollered. I got the attention of the elderly neighbor (from whence the cats had been coming from) and proceeded to give her an earful. At one point during my tirade I even blurted out that “if I see another cat coming through here I’ll shoot it” (funny because I don’t even own a gun). She expressed her concern about the cat issue as well and that underneath her back deck it was becoming a dumping ground as well. It is her physically disabled daughter that is the “cat lady” taking in all the strays.

When I went inside, I informed my wife of what I had done. She was stunned that I said something. As I had mentioned, I don’t get mad very often. Although, I did not feel that I was “in the wrong” in any of these situations, something was eating at me.

A few days after “the incident” I spotted the elderly lady outside. She was trying to get rid of some newly fallen snow from off of her side walk and deck. I went over to see her and decided to apologize for being as abrupt as I was and explained that the whole afternoon I had been angry. The elderly lady said that she accepted my apology, and then she began to tear up. She told me that moments before I had blown up at her, she had just returned home from a lengthy train ride where she had been visiting her fifty year old son. She said that he is still very sharp mentally but has now lost all use of his limbs. He has (ALS) Lou Gehrig’s disease (a fatal disease where the person loses the use of their body, one part at a time).

Suddenly, in an instant my perspective changed. I was dumfounded. I was filled with feelings of sympathy for this dear sweet lady who was mourning over her son’s situation. She feels so totally helpless. Then there’s this crazy neighbor who lashes out at her just moments after she comes back from the hospital. What kind of a home coming is that?

I felt awful. I felt helpless. All I could do was to try to understand what it was that she was going through. Try as I might, there’s still nothing I can do to change her son’s circumstances.

How quick are we to lash out at someone without trying to understand the person, to really communicate with them and understand their perspective? Working to understand another person’s perspective is a wonderful experience. Deep human communication is what gives our life meaning. Hearts can be touched and healed. It is something sacred. 

Seeking this dear sweet lady’s forgiveness was essential for me to feel at peace. However, gaining an understanding of her trials and struggles as a human being was an even greater lesson for me.