While Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease may be a common viral illness that children and infants get, I think it is safe to say that adults often have a similar virus called Foot in Mouth Disease. The one where people say things they shouldn’t, and it often hurts those around them.
Lets be honest, things I’ve delt with over the past few years have changed me, big time. I’ve become more aware of the fact that people have struggles and most of the time they are living with these struggles privately. And these struggles vary greatly. Singleness, infertility, miscarriage, marriage difficulties, death, illness, abuse, career stress, etc. The types of pain people struggle with privately are endless. Realizing that there are many things people may be struggling with has made me more aware of the things I do and especially the things I say. I also have my friend Rebekah to thank for this observation, as we’ve had a number of conversations about this topic!
I have learned that it is never appropriate for me to ask someone I just met if they have kids. I will ask their names, what they do, where they are from, what they enjoy doing, etc. I will never conciously ask someone if they have children because if they’ve been trying with no success, that is the most painful question they can hear. I will never publicly ask someone to attend a function where I know kids will be the focus of the event if I know they’ve lost a child or struggled having children. That is a private matter and which I should handle delicately and one on one.
Just the same, I will never complain about my husband to a friend while we’re out in public (not that I have reason to complain about him at all!). I do not know those around me and the private pain they are dealing with. If the lady in the booth behind me hears me, she may have just lost her husband or the girl behind me in line may be battling years of singleness. Something I say to my friend may be the catalyst that sends a complete stranger to tears.
It seems as though we live in a world where we’ve become less aware of those around us and are only concerned about ourselves. I often hear people asking questions or saying things that are completely inappropriate. I don’t understand why people feel like they’ve been given a free pass to say anything they wish, to whomever they wish. We’ve become a society desensitized to the people around us.
Of course it would be silly of me to think that I’ll always get it right. I won’t. But I am trying to make every attempt I can to choose my words and actions carefully!