My best friend, Cindy, sent me this yesterday:
A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, "Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like."
The Lord led the holy man to two doors.
He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water. The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.
The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering.
The Lord said, "You have seen hell."
They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, "I don't understand."
It is simple," said the Lord. "It requires but one skill. You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves."
Remember that I will always share my spoon with you.
Now, while I have no doubt that Cindy would actually give me food if I were hungry, I tend to look at this with another eye, as it were. Not all food is "food" ... the "food" that Cindy shares with me more than anything is encouragement and unwavering friendship. I know that if I were in trouble, Cindy would drop everything to come to my aid, as she knows I would for her. There are few people in this world in whom I have that confidence ... Cindy is one. I don't deserve her friendship, nevertheless ... there is it.
I would encourage each and everyone one of us to look to our friends and acquaintances and feed them, even if they don't "look" hungry. You never know when it will come back around.
I took Monday off as a sick day trying to recover from this *very* nasty cough that I have (didn't do any good, by the way, although I brought home a veritable pharmacy with me to combat it). I didn't have my normal bright smile on and a Wal-Mart employee looked at me and said "how are you doing?" and gave me one of his smiles. That simple smile perked me up and I replied, "I think I'm going to make it, thanks."
Little bits of encouragement can mean so very much.
On the flip side, don't assume that someone is grumpy just because they're not their usual bright-eyed self. At work on Friday, a co-worker came to me and said (in a sing-song voice, BTW) "Are you not feeling very well?"
I looked at this intelligent woman and said with a straight face, "What was your first clue?" (This was followed straightaway by a very hacking, unproductive and nasty cough.)
"Well, you're kind of grumpy today," she replied. (I was NOT grumpy!)
"I'm not grumpy," I replied.
"Yes, you're grumpy today."
"No ... I'm not grumpy ... I'm in a pretty good mood, except for getting sick. Why do you think I'm grumpy?
"Well, you're not your usual cheery, bright-eyed self."
"That just means I don't feel well, but I've not been grumpy with anyone ... but I'm beginning to get grumpy NOW."
Just for the record ... I was NOT GRUMPY ... however, her insistence that I apparently needed to be "up" 24 hours a day for the benefit of my co-workers stuck with me all weekend ... actually, I haven't quite let it go even yet ... can you tell?
So, just think of the times when you've carried some secret worry or burden, not telling anyone else because you didn't want to be pitied, or a trouble to anyone else. Your friend could be doing the same thing.
But don't make the assumption that they're angry with you or anyone or anything else in particular ... just give them a smile and maybe a word of praise (deserved only, OK?) or encouragement. You just might make their day.