Recently, I asked a group of ladies I know, admire and respect how it makes them feel when they see my husband’s and my smiling picture on Facebook. I told them I wanted honest and direct responses and that’s what I got from these incredible women who work hard every single day to create new “normal” lives for themselves and their children in the midst of divorce proceedings or healing from painful divorces. Their generous spirits shone through beautifully, when saying that they’re so happy to see me happy. Some of them said that my husband and I provide them with hope for a second chance at love. The thing that pained me was that they were touched/surprised that I was even showing concern/asking how this picture might affect them. As if it was unheard of to express sensitivity and caring to someone whom you know is struggling with something that you have that they wish they had too. This got me thinking about human suffering in general.
A recently divorced friend may have a hard time seeing/hearing us gush about what a wonderful husband we have and how he spoiled us rotten on our birthday with a day at the spa, with Facebook pictures as proof. A friend whose spouse recently passed away may have a hard time being reminded daily of their loss. A friend who is single may have a difficult time seeing all the pictures of our engagement party plastered all over Facebook and may have to work incredibly hard to wish a Mazal Tov. A woman struggling with fertility issues may find it near impossible to attend a Brit Milah or a Simchat Bat and to see happy pictures of the parents plastered all over Facebook because of the deep anguish it causes her heart and soul.
This is a note to every single one of us, myself included. Let us all exercise our sensitivity muscles. We all have them. Some of us need to work harder at strengthening them, while for others of us, it comes more naturally. Let us be more aware and much more sensitive to the struggles that our friends are facing. For example, especially in very family oriented communities, let’s reach out to the singles, divorcees and widow(er)s. Let’s invite them for Shabbatot. Let’s give them Mishlochey Manot and invite them to our Purim Seudot. Let’s invite them to join us for Chagim. Let’s ask them directly, if we fear we may have caused them unintentional pain by something that we said or did. If we don’t ask, we’ll never know. We are here on this earth to love our fellow Jew. Sometimes by being careless and/or thoughtless, we end up causing people we care about a lot of heartache and pain. Even if it is unintentional, it still hurts. A LOT.