We Should All Wear Signs

I have somehow found myself involved in an annual hike in the mountains.  Did I mention it is a winter hike and happens to be on New Year’s Eve every year?  During this year’s hike, it was 20 degrees outside.  Wind chill hovered somewhere around ten degrees.  Yep.  Ten.  Degrees.  I promised I’d attend the hike every year if at all possible and this year was 11 month old Max’s first winter hike.  He did great:

And thankfully so did we humans.  This is three of the four of us at the summit (me, Suzy and Erin.  Lisa took the pic.)  Here we are 5000 feet on top of a fire outlook in the Shenandoah Mountains, 12/31/17. Me, three crazy women and Maximus!

Suffice it to say, once we got up there, we came right down!

We’re smart people, right?!  Lol!

On the way back to our cabin, as I was driving the beautiful back roads of Virginia, I came to a four way stop.  On the bumper of the car in front of me was one of the funniest bumper stickers I had ever read.  It was also pretty distasteful.  I’ll spare you the details except to share that even my editor vetoed me sharing the exact words.  Moving on then.

This situation reminded me of how much I enjoy reading the back of someone else’s car or truck.  On the back tailgate of my truck I have three magnets which read:  Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Emmanuel Preschool and I Love My German Shepherd.  Those three magnets tell everyone behind me some of the things I care deeply about.  My church.  My preschool.  My dog.

Sometimes when I pull up behind someone, their magnet or bumper sticker might say something as important as Student Driver.  This tells me a LOT!  I need to be careful while driving behind this driver.  Give them room, be respectful, be ready for sharp turns, etc.  I appreciate the heads-up.  With a Student Driver magnet in front of me I could be careful around them … be forgiving … give them some extra room.  Without such a magnet would I be as patient?  Probably not.

Maybe we should all wear signs to let others know what we’re going through.  Just looking at another person at school, or at work, or in the grocery store, or driving next to us, we can’t tell what they’re going through.  A sign would help.  Maybe attached to their shirt or jacket:

“I just heard from my doctor today, Stage 4 cancer.”
“Please be nice to me; my husband has Alzheimer’s.  I think I’m going to lose it right here in the store with him.”
“I just heard this morning that I lost a second child.  Please pray for me.”
“I got a pink slip today on my way out of work.”
“Fragile.  Not a good day for me.”

Wouldn’t that be helpful?

And wouldn’t it be nice to be able to celebrate with people when they receive good news:

“We just heard we’re having a baby girl.”
“I just got into the college of my dreams.”
“Cancer Free.”
“Day 3 without a drink.”
“Today’s a good day.  I’m grateful.”

I think if we knew what people were going through that we would treat everyone around us just a little more carefully.  I think we’d be nicer.  I think I’d be nicer.  The truth is, we shouldn’t have to see signs and have reasons to treat others with kindness.  We should be doing that anyway, whether or not we know what’s going on.  Maybe in this new year we can look at others the way Jesus looks at them and treat others the way Jesus treats them.  The way Jesus treats us.

Let’s keep each other in prayer.

Peace friends,


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Categories: Inspiration, Ministry


  • Christine Reilly says:

    Love this. And love you. Thank you for your blog, Chuck!

  • Bill Zaccagnino says:

    Signs might be a good idea. I’ll pass on the “bumper sticker” (actually a homemade sign) in the back window of a truck: “Illegal Aliens Are Criminals.” A couple of questions occurred to me: Have beings from other planets actually made it to Earth? and If so, why would that make them criminals? I thought we were trying to make contact with other worlds! Okay, so the Confederate flag decal on the same window gave me all the explanation I needed to understand where the driver from coming from. I’m not from there.

  • Carol Coyle-Shea says:

    Mine would say “Be nice to me today; I just got a year older.” Something to be REALLY thankful for.

    My mantra is to always try to see someone as they see themselves – and hope they do me that favor as well.

    Love your posts,


  • Joan Skiscim says:

    a number of years ago a friend an I were commiserating over our problems and she said to me “we are all toting the load somewhere” I never forgot that and think of it whenever things seem to get overwhelming.

  • Lauren Smith Ridgway says:

    Couldn’t have read this at a more opportune time, this is great, Chuck. Thank you for this. I need a sign a day at this rate.

  • Candy says:

    For over ten years my license plate read VOTF. It was envied at the VOTF meetings that I attended but questioned by most observers.
    Initially, I welcomed the opportunity to explain this movement within the RC Church and national commitment to make necessary changes following the clergy sex abuse scandal that was documented by The Boston Globe in 2001 ~ and unfortunately continues today.
    As years went by and the lack of transparency within the church continued. I grew weary. Hope faded. And I became tired of being so invested in the movement. It was no longer who I was.
    So, a few years ago, I changed my vanity tags and now they read CHAYES. That is who I am.

  • Joy McManus says:

    LOVE IT!!!!! Great way to remind us to keep perspective before judgement!!!

  • Michele says:

    First, you all are crazy for hiking on one of the coldest days in the winter! Just saying …

    Second, thank you for the lovely reminder of ‘signs’. I often tell my kids to be nice to mean people as you never know why they are ‘being mean’. They may just be having a bad day. So hard in the moment!

  • Dave Bundren says:

    Chuck — that’s a great new year’s tradition. BTW, yesterday, my magnet would have said “Treat Dave nicely. Liverpool just traded Coutinho to Barcelona.”

    Happy New Year and Love from TeamBundren…

  • Susan Clubb says:

    It is always best to give the other person the benefit of a doubt – you never know what someone is going through. On a similar note, this reminded me of an article I once read that said we would all be more courteous drivers if our name was on our license plate 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    Thanks, Chuck. A great reminder.

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