John Pavlovitz found himself buying bananas the day after his father died. He was going through such a normal part of life, but inside he felt anything but normal.
Everyone around you; the people you share the grocery store line with, pass in traffic, sit next to at work, encounter on social media, and see across the kitchen table—they’re all experiencing the collateral damage of living. They are all grieving someone, missing someone, worried about someone. Their marriages are crumbling or their mortgage payment is late or they’re waiting on their child’s test results, or they’re getting bananas five years after a death and still pushing back tears because the loss feels as real as it did that first day.
I can vividly remember, in 2007, taking a walk on my lunch break from work, after finding out that my father was terminally ill. It was the most beautiful day imaginable, the sun was shining and the temps were in the seventies, but I was completely unable to feel the comfort of the perfect weather. I couldn’t even contemplate ever getting my way past that internal ache that was so much stronger than anything nature could provide as soothing balm.
Who among us hasn’t had these times? There are almost inevitably seasons where we’re unable to feel the cool breeze cutting through the punishment of a blazing sun. We don’t go around wearing signs, but Pavlovitz visualizes how helpful it would be, anyway. There often are no noticeable signals. No helpful indicator lights to let people know our emotional tanks are almost on empty.
Whether your reference point is Ecclesiastes or The Byrds, “to everything there is a season.” It can be hard to know in which season a person is dwelling, though. So we have to tread carefully with those around us.
Pavlovitz sums it up nicely.
We need to remind ourselves just how hard the hidden stories around us might be, and to approach each person as a delicate, breakable, invaluable treasure—and to handle them with care.