All the different shades of gray…

I have been reflecting upon all this for a while, probably a couple of years… And I wonder if my story is everybody’s story…

When I was in my 20s, I used to be very idealistic and romantic (with hindsight, should I say… naive?!!). I believed in faithfulness, and honesty, and respect… I thought people simply told the truth. But then, as I grew older, I realized that things simply were not that simple… There was this one friend who started cheating on her husband, and this other one who was involved with a married man… It was very disappointing but they were my friends and I learned to be there for them even if I disapproved because that’s what true friends do… They give you space to screw up, learn your lessons, and go through your process. They just don’t disappear on you!

I often referred to my late 20s and early 30s as a time of disappointment… Suddenly, I started seeing the flaws in others… the very religious young woman who cheats on her fiancé a month before the wedding; the fathers who try to discuss their affairs with their own children; the pregnant woman who leaves her husband for another man a couple of month before the birth of the baby or the husband who leaves his wife when she is three-month pregnant; the husband who tells you by phone that he wants a divorce after 10 year together; the fiancé who gets another woman pregnant, pays for the abortion and never comes clean; and all those stories of people who cheat on their significant others, or lie, or simply walk out the door one day… I figured I was too idealistic and for a while, I thought I should try to be more realistic, although that felt like plain disenchantment.

And when I myself started to err and little by little share about that one sad story in the middle of which I found myself, I found out that there were so many of us out there with darker stories… the stories we are afraid to share because we don’t want to be judged; the stories we don’t share because we don’t want our loved ones to be judged; and the stories we alter just because it seems that it will be easier for everyone.

I will always remember the sweet aunt who waited for her entire family to be out of the room to confess to me that she had cheated on her husband of 20+ years. She had not told anyone in her family because she felt they simply would not understand. I think she simply did not want to be judged but also she did not want to shatter the perfect family picture they all thought they were a part of… And that’s when I realized something… If you don’t know anyone around you with a sad story, chances are it is because you don’t know how to listen. Because the day I started seeing all the different shades of gray and be more open-minded, was the day people started sharing their sad stories with me.

And as the years go by, I keep on learning about sad stories and my heart just drowns a little bit more each time… The father who still denies leaving for another woman close to two years after the fact; the one who lies about being a married father of three on his online dating profile; and all the other broken hearts that are so badly in need of healing…

So where do I want to go with this? Well, in some ways, I think that being idealistic is a form of self-preservation. Because you simply do not want to live your life thinking about all the ways it could possibly go wrong. Plus, I do know about many happy stories too! Still, I also think that we all need to learn to be a bit more compassionate and less judgmental. Life is hard and nobody is perfect…

But when we stop passing judgments and we learn to simply listen and be supportive, we encounter many beautiful beings, with their own share of circumstances and their own stories. And that’s when we learn that all those shades of gray are only another rainbow of beautiful colors. My closest friends today not only are the ones who were there for me when others turned their back, but also the ones who have trusted me enough to share that one secret that nobody else or only a few know about… And those friendships have brought me so much support and love, a love that sometimes feels unconditional, that it will always overshadow the rest.

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3 thoughts on “All the different shades of gray…

  1. I love this post, but especially this line:

    “If you don’t know anyone around you with a sad story, chances are it is because you don’t know how to listen.”

    I think we (as in ‘me’) are often too busy and self-centered to stop and listen. When I think of the people I’d consider my best friends, they all share the quality of being good listeners. Only after they’ve listened and processed it do they offer advice. Sometimes that advice is hard to hear, but because they love me, they speak the truth in love (from Ephesians 4:15). For me, those words are also beautiful colors in my life.

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  2. You wrote this beautifully. When it comes to people who don’t treat others nicely or respectfully and just seem miserable with their lives, I think of it this way…something must have happened in this persons life to make them this way or something may have had a bad day and I try to just the upside. I will also admit I have called these people “jerks” on occasions when I just feel like enough is enough. The truth is, if you look at the person next to you they have been through a life. A life full of happiness at times and a life full of sadness. There are so many people who have it worse than the other and that’s why it’s important to appreciate life and who’s in it because you just never know what the other person has been through and what events may have lead them to be the way they are.

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