I rolled down the windows and let the fresh air rush inside. The heat of summer was finally retreating, the air conditioner no longer needed for comfort. The cool refreshing air hit my face and I took a deep breath, happy to be getting closer to home. I was driving up through a middle-class neighborhood, my neighborhood. I smiled as I saw kids laughing and playing in one yard, an older man watering plants in the next. I heard the hum of a lawn mower off in the distance soon to be silenced by winter.
The yards mowed and the bushes trimmed, some immaculate, some needing attention. I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to live in each of those homes. Some of the people were strangers, others are friends. The homes appeared to be peaceful, almost perfect.
The Perfect Little Homes
I wondered if the owners were happy, or if their hearts were heavy and filled with sorrow. I passed home after home and wondered if the perfect yards were an attempt to hide something. You see, I know all about perfect little homes with the perfect green yards. I know about the people who live there, seemingly happy and content, living the american dream. I have been the owner of several. To the outside eyes everything looked great, I hid the fact that the house and the owners were crumbling on the inside.
Each day I would put on a mask and I would walk out the door ready to pretend like my life was wonderful. In my quiet heart, I had hidden my sorrow, sorrow that I didn’t want others to see. I didn’t want them to know that I was broken, that my marriage was falling apart. Every day I woke up and I was hurting. My husband would go weeks without saying much of anything to me. In that perfect little home my spirit was slowly dying.
I kept it hidden because I was ashamed that it was crumbling. I thought it was happening because I wasn’t doing enough. I didn’t want the world to know about what was happening, I was afraid that if they saw me they would validate my worthlessness. After all, to me, it was obvious that it was my fault.
Inside I was crumbling, my world was crumbling, and I couldn’t do anything about it. I chose to suffer silently until I could no longer hide it.
Over the next 16 months I was forced to sit in my crumbling house and everyone knew about it. I know some people made judgments, I could hear the whispering and feel the stares. My world broke apart around me and there was no force strong enough to hold it together. I faced more suffering and sorrow than I ever imagined I would have to face and people watched.
I don’t need a perfect house
I learned that I don’t need a perfect house to be loved and to have worth. So many amazing people came and sat with me while I suffered. They sat with me in that crumbling house and they offered me their love, their friendship, and their hope. I saw the hands of God through everyday people more than once during the frightening months that followed. I learned about pain,loss, suffering, and sadness.
Suffering is Universal
It has been over two years since my divorce and I now realize that suffering is universal. We all wish we could escape it, but in one form or another during our life time it will visit our door. Now that I have lived through it, I see it differently. I see it in the sagging shoulders of the older man who was watering his bushes. I see it in the downcast eyes, the labored walks, and the fake smiles.
As I drove past all of the perfect homes I realized that one if not many of those people may be suffering. It may be divorce, loss of a loved one, lonliness, or one of the many other sorrows that we face as humans. I felt a desire to know the lives of all those people and to help. I wanted to yell out my window and say, “You don’t have to suffer silently behind your perfect yards, let me sit with you.”
You don’t have to be alone, find a safe person and reach for help. Let the hands of God bless you through everyday people.