Collateral Damage

Often times we don’t realize how our actions affect others. We are upset or frustrated about something, and so we react…much of the time without thought of how our actions might impact those around us. And up until recently, I never even thought of how our actions can affect those who aren’t even directly involved in the situation. They are on the periphery. Most are just minding their own business. They are your average, everyday people who have no stake in the game. The fight doesn’t involve them. They have nothing to gain or lose. Perhaps they were just at that wrong place at the wrong time. And yet, their lives are affected by the actions of those around them.

You see it all the time. Children who are caught in the middle of a nasty custody battle, civilians who end up losing everything they own in a war, and other instances where the actions of others affect those who are just innocent bystanders.

While I haven’t been in a war and my parents are still happily married, I too have been affected by the actions of others as an innocent bystander. You don’t choose this for yourself. You didn’t ask for it. You didn’t provoke it. And yet, here you are, caught in the nasty crossfire. And while the two opposing sides receive support from their allies and recover from the battle, you’re barely breathing. Left for dead. Because let’s face it, this battle was never about you in the first place. You were dispensable. You’re just collateral damage.

It’s an awful feeling, to be reduced to nothing more than a commodity. You start to find out who your true friends are and those who were just using you because they had something to gain. You experience abandonment by those who supposedly “had your back”. You endure the stares of people who watch as you desperately try to pick up the broken pieces of your life. You have so many questions, and so very little answers. There’s doubt, fear and the hurt is unbearable.

Yet, you make a promise. A promise to never hurt someone the way you have been hurt. To think about your actions and how they affect others, even those who are innocent bystanders, because they matter, too.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Philippians 2:3-4

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