There's a quote that I've seen a lot on Facebook and other places.
You've probably seen it as well.
There are different versions and no one seems to know who orignially wrote it.
But it goes something like this:
"Be kind: for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle".
And it's true.
We're all fighting a hard battle, carrying a heavy burden, often just trying to get through the day.
But we're also so much more than our budens, so much more than the battles that we're fighting.
I want to tell you about a friend of mine who is fighting a really hard battle.
And who is so much more than the battle that she's fighting.
Several times I've mentioned the volleyball group that I lead here in Bogota, Colombia.
The group has grown to a point where I've taken on two co-organizers.
One of my co-organizers is named Karol.
Her story is the one I want to share with you...
Fourteen people showed up at the very first volleyball event that I organized a year and a half ago.
And although the group has grown in the past 18 months, only three of those original 14 people remain active members of the group.
Karol is one of them.
She's been there from the very first event, and she's been by far the most reliable member of the group.
So six months ago when she asked me if she could be a co-orgainzer of the group, I gladly accepted.
Karol, more than anyone else (myself included), has been responsible for turning the volleyball group into a community.
She's the one who began organizing birthday parties and after-volleyball lunches, as well as other social events.
But there was something that, until a few months ago, I never understood about Karol.
Karol is a single mom with a 6 year old daughter.
I often wondered how Karol had the time to come to volleyball and to be active in so many other social activities.
Where was her daughter? Who was taking care of her while Karol did all these other things?
The truth turned out to be something that I never would have expected.
Her daughter doesn't live here in Colombia. Her daughter lives in Spain.
That's where Karol was married, where her daughter was born, and where she got divorced.
So why does the daughter live in Spain and not here in Colombia with Karol?
Because her ex-husband has essentially "kidnapped" their daughter.
I say essentially because Karol has no legal right to bring her daughter to Colombia.
Not without her ex-husband's permission.
And so far he has refused to give that permission.
Which means that Karol has seen her daughter for a grand total of two weeks this year (when she went to Spain to visit her daughter).
Meanwhile, her ex-husband continually promises to send their daughter to Colombia.
But those promises are broken over and over and over again.
So that's Karol's battle, Karol's burden.
Being separated from her 6 year old daughter, having no idea when she'll see her again, touch her again, hold her again.
A battle that she has to fight every single day.
With no end in sight.
I can't even imagine what Karol's going through.
Now here's the thing.
If you were to meet Karol, you would probably see what I see: a strong, independent, kind, hard-working, intelligent woman.
Not to mention brave, courageous, and resilient.
You wouldn't see the battles she's fighting, the burden she's carrying.
Karol is much more than her battle. And she doesn't let her battle define who she is.
She is, in my opinion, a remarkable woman.
But not special.
Because you are just as remarkable as she is.
I don't know your story, but I know that you're carrying around some sort of burden, fighting some sort of battle.
I also know that just like Karol you're brave, couragous, and resilient.
That you're more than your battle, more than your burdens.
And so don't let your battles and burdens define who are you as a person.
And be kind to all those other people who are fighting their own battles and carrying their own burdens.
Which is everyone.