I just got back from a trip up to Detroit for Memorial Day weekend. I visited family there and hit up a music festival for some dancing fun. As I have returned home, I reflected on the trip and I can’t help but be a little overwhelmed by the humbling experiences I had and people I saw. This trip was a gentle reminder that we are all fighting our own battles.
As my mom and I boarded the flight, God would place a woman next to us that was flying to go to her mother’s funeral. As she proceeded to tell us the saddening story of her mother’s passing, it became apparent that not only was she dealing with the death of a loved one, but she was also highly strung out on opiates. She was nodding out and completely in a world of her own.
This is not me passing judgment. Addiction is horrible. I can speak from that place because I’ve been there. Although I was never a fan of downers, I’ve been around it enough to know it when I see it. It was devastating to watch this poor woman in her own struggles.
Bless her heart. And bless my mother for being patient and kind to her for the entire flight as she nodded out on her lap, spilled both of her coffees and graciously offered us snacks ten or twelve times.
Next up, we headed to the hospital to visit my aunt who just came out of a very invasive and major surgery. As she sat in her hospital bed in pain, nauseous and unable to eat, we made the best of our time together by chatting to take her mind off of things and doing our best to make her feel as comfortable as possible.
While the surgery went well, she has an uphill battle of recovery the next couple months as her body heals. I can only pray that she feels relief, peace and gets the healing rest she needs to get herself back to normal.
As I left the hospital and headed out on a long drive into downtown Detroit for the festival, my eyes wandered down the exits of the highway to the dilapidated houses and buildings as I got closer to downtown. This was clearly a city that has essentially collapsed and the people there seem to be surviving at a poverty level in the inner-city areas.
I rode with cab drivers that told stories of how they are hustling to make money during this festival weekend because they dread the slow summers where it’s extremely hard to make ends meet. We stopped at corners with those same drivers as they gave a dollar here and dollar there to the homeless people of whom they knew by name and street corner.
I visited the Detroit Institute of Arts to see an incredible photography exhibit by Corine Vermeulen capturing the people of Detroit along with what they had to say about the city. It was humbling to say the least as I peered through the quotes and photographs of a fallen city.
What I’m getting at in all of this is that we think we have it bad sometimes. We get down and out. We think our circumstances are unfavorable or unfortunate. And maybe they are to us. But I guarantee, especially after this trip, there are MANY people that would gladly trade places with us.
It made me have a new appreciation for my life.
It made me feel blessed and grateful for what I do have.
It made me realize my trials and tribulations could be worse. It can always be worse.
But most of all it opened my eyes to the fact that we are all fighting our own battles. We are all dealing with this thing called life. We need to stand together and help each other.
We can do this by expressing gratitude more often.
By counting our blessings instead of focusing on what we don’t have.
By spreading kindness like confetti as someone so beautifully displayed on a sign around the festival.
By giving love instead of hate or frustration.
By recognizing that we are all human. And we are in this life together. To grow and stretch into bigger, better versions of ourselves. We must understand that sometimes this can only happen by weathering a storm and coming out stronger on the other side.
It’s the people on our path and in our life that make those valleys of life easier to manage. Even the strangers that just happen to be there at the right time and place to offer a smile, encouraging word or a shoulder to lean on.
I left Detroit with a newfound sense of kindness inside of me as each of the people and images crossed my path. The next time a storm hits, let us remember we are not alone in our struggles. We are all quietly or sometimes loudly battling with our own storms. Be the person who holds the umbrella and offers shelter to others. And when you think it’s raining in your own life, remember, the sun is always shining on the other side. Namaste.