The woman at the grocery store

Have you ever watched an interview, and instantly felt as though you had a person all figured out?

“By early 1997, a visible decline in Farley’s health was frequently noted in the press. Following his final guest appearance on SNL on October 25, 1997,[24] his hoarse voice, continual perspiration and flushed skin were the subject of public scrutiny.[25][26] In the final years of his life, Farley had sought treatment for obesity and drug abuse on seventeen separate occasions.[27] On December 18, 1997, Farley was found dead by his younger brother John in his apartment in the John Hancock Center in Chicago.[28] An autopsy later revealed that Farley had died of a drug overdose (morphine and cocaine) early that morning.[29] Advanced atherosclerosis was cited as a “significant contributing factor”.[22] His death is often compared to that of another Saturday Night Live and The Second City member named John Belushi, who also died at 33 of an accidental drug overdose of morphine and cocaine.”

Or maybe you see celebrities and roll your eyes. After all, they are only human, and far too much emphasis is placed on fame these days (I will admit to being curious about what is beyond the many facades).

“On August 26, 2007, Wilson was taken to St. John’s Health Center amid reports of a suicide attempt. He was later transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.[14] His lawyer later confirmed that he had been undergoing treatment for depression.[15] A few days later, Wilson withdrew from starring in Tropic Thunder, produced by and starring his friend and frequent collaborator Ben Stiller.[16] Following the suicide attempt, Wilson had participated in limited publicity and promotion for his films.[17]”

I wonder how often our perceptions are wrong. I think of the people we cross paths with, and would never know what they are hiding. Imagine that someone around you; someone in your office, classroom, home/family is masking things. Behind their silence or smiles, there is a brokenness; an emptiness that will probably remain hidden. Possibly until it is too late.

As I observe the confusion following the sad news about an actor in a romantic comedy, I wonder about our reactions toward one another. Then I remember; more often than not, depression and self destructive feelings are buried until it is too late. I wonder…how many of us would be shocked to find out that the people we least expect are unhappy? A step away from ending it.

What if the long winded woman at the grocery store checkout line went on and on and made you late for your appointment because she was lonely? What if that was the only true interaction she had had in weeks or months? What if everything she ever wanted to say, she kept inside, because she felt as though no one cared? Until she saw you, and you listened, and you somehow gave her hope.

What if the looney neighbor who always seems to show up and make you laugh right on time makes you laugh just to see you smile because smiling is nearly impossible in his every day life? Maybe his family has banned him from barbecues and cookouts because several years ago he was a raging alcoholic who caused nothing but heartache. But now he has changed. He is ten years clean. But no one can seem to see anything more than the addiction that he is trying to put behind him. Until he saw you, and you laughed, and smiled and you somehow gave him hope.

‘Empty’  has so many shapes, sizes, colors and reasons for taking hold. When I think of the celebrities who are hurting and empty, I am not only sorry, but am reminded that our troubles and voids can always follow us no matter who we are. That no money or fame could take away pain or depression.

I hope that when we look around, we realize that ’empty’ can be buried so deep, that no one could detect it from the outside. I hope that in our prayers, we remember the woman at the grocery store and the neighbor; even those who appear to have it all.

Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

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