everyone's fighting some kind of battle.

be kinder than necessary

a few weeks ago a dear friend from high school posted this picture of me on facebook. i’m totally embarrassed to share it here, but i thought i’d be brave to make a point.

homecoming queen pic

yes, i was the basketball homecoming queen my senior year of high school. don’t hold it against me. and yes, homecoming queens and cheerleaders can be nice people, ha ha.

i hadn’t looked at this picture in years, but when i did, this thought crossed my mind:  if they only knew.

yeah, that was a terrible night for me. 4 months before that homecoming game i had an abortion and was still healing. i was a mess inside, like a big hot mess, and no one except for my very best friend knew what happened to me. i was so adept at hiding my pain that everyone around me never saw anything but my smiling face, my  kathy’s-got-it-all-together-ness.  they had no idea that i was filled  to the brim with shame and self-hatred, that i could barely breathe. my insides and my outside are completely opposite of each other in this picture, but no one knew. they didn’t have any idea of the battle i was fighting inside my soul.

it made me think of how easy it is to judge others, to look on the outside and be jealous, to be judgmental, to think of ourselves as better-than or less-than others because of what we see on the outside. we do it with homecoming queens, we do it with co-workers, we do it with people at church, we do it with people on the streets, we do it with people sitting next to us on buses, on trains, on airplanes, we do it just about everywhere we go.

we assume.

but the truth is, every human being–every human being–is fighting some kind of battle.

addictions to drugs, alcohol, porn, work, food, unhealthy relationships, gambling, spending.

mental illnesses

chronic pain

the fall out of painful divorces

cutting and self-harm

struggling children

caring for ailing parents

past abortions


legal troubles

longing for a child, a spouse 

shame, shame, and more shame

eating disorders

the trauma of sexual abuse

the deep wounding of physical and emotional abuse

confusing sexuality

hurting marriages

shattered dreams

broken relationships

death of a spouse of a kid of a friend of a family member

loss of jobs

debilitating fear


near homelessness

being bullied

insecurity & unworthiness

church woundedness

financial distress

pressure to succeed

you  name it, someone’s struggling with it.

it’s probably the guy at the grocery store or your neighbor or the woman you are standing next to at a soccer game or your mom or your dad or your kid or the person on the pew next to you or the one with the microphone or the one opening the bible or the one with big letters behind their name on their business card or the one holding a sign on the street corner or the one writing you a ticket or the one annoying the hell out of you for some weird reason or the one teaching your kids or the one fixing your car or the one you are sitting next to on the bus or the one standing in line in front of you at social services or the one who just came out as gay or the blogger who just wrote something that pissed you off or the one who signs your paychecks or the one who leads your small group or the one who stumbles out of the bar drunk or the one who keeps posting irritating things on facebook or the one picking up the bag at the food bank or the one paying for their groceries or the one smiling as they walk across the basketball court in a gold dress and wave to the crowd.

yep, everyone’s fighting some kind of battle.

God, give us eyes to see beyond what’s on the surface.

give us ears to listen beyond what we hear.

help us learn to live without assuming, without judging. give us hearts filled with compassion because of our shared humanity, our shared experience, our shared trying-to-make-it-through-the-day-as-best-we-can-despite-the-obstacles, our shared desire to be known and loved and accepted not for what’s on the outside but for what’s on the inside, too.

no less-than, no better-than.

no less-than, no better-than.

let’s be kinder than necessary.  everyone’s fighting some kind of battle.


ps: june down we go column is up at sheloves magazine. the theme all month is “reclaim”–what’s under the rubble.  may we reclaim God’s image in us and help others reclaim theirs, too! 


Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar is dedicated to creating safe and brave spaces for transformation and healing in real life, online, and outside. She co-pastors at The Refuge, a hub for healing community, social action, and creative collaboration in North Denver, co-directs #communityheals, a non-profit organization dedicated to making spaces for transformation accessible for all, and is the author of Practicing: Changing Yourself to Change the World, Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.


  • “No less than. No better than. No less than. No better than.” I need to repeat this to myself like a thousand times a day. May God have mercy on my judgmental soul. May he help me to stop looking down on and demonizing others. They are all God’s sacred.

    • yeah, that mantra is such an important one…both directions are so important. no better than and also no less than. it’s hard to do! God help us.

  • New eyes to see, indeed.

    So glad you’re in the arena, Kathy … This took incredible courage.

  • This very thing has been on my heart too. I have made a very conscious effort to “stop and think” before I react and judge. Praying God gives me the eyes to see and a heart to feel beyond myself. I did this little poster for my Facebook wall to remind me it’s not only about me, I am here to be a loving support to all God’s children. Appreciate your post!

  • Beautiful and vulnerable, Kathy. I’m going to use this in a class I am teaching this weekend.

  • Hey Kathy,

    Well – I did mention us all having a battle between the flesh and the Spirit in my last comment – great minds think alike *wink.

    You look great in the photo by the way – lovely smile :).

    I applaud your courage in sharing what you have and fell sadness about what you mentioned with the abortion. I was touched by what you wrote. I get it.

    And I can relate to what you have said about having it all together on the surface but it being a completely different story underneath. It has often been remarked that I come across as strong and courageous. What people don’t realise often is that the courage I exhibit is sometimes because I am taking the risk to face my biggest fear and when I am at my strongest I am also at my most vulnerable. So, when I say I have a need, it often times is not taken seriously – “Adam your a strong guy, you can handle it” or it is laughed at. I’ve learnt a social skill of sharing some things sometimes and people laughing. At least folks get a laugh. Though for me it has been like with many art forms, a coming form a place of having had pain, and healed enough to be able to talk about it. Learning the practise of alchemising pain into passages of great beauty.

    So – for me that works socially and I have learnt to choose friends more carefully and the what extent I share things with people. What was it Jesus said – your heart is precious, and to guard it, or words to that effect? It’s not safe or wise for everyone to know personal business all the time.

    I hear what you say about seeing others battles. I would advocate also having wisdom about being with folks in their troubles.There can be tremendous times in being there for one another. At the same time, some may regard such as an intrusion, and because none of us are without pain and our own battles, we may not be best placed to be there with someone else. And may even cause ourselves and others harm in trying to do so.

  • Thanks Kathy, we so much need to be reminded to look past the construction of others. This article speaks, grace, love, peace compassion and understanding as we journey through life challenges. Lord help me lay down my soul.

  • Beautifully and simply put. I have often been told I have the ‘perfect life’. And I am very blessed, but there are ALWAYS those inside feelings or situations that people don’t see. Compassion for ALL. <3

  • Thank you for this call to be kind. Your transparency is incredible, Kathy. Thank you for sharing of your scars so we can be more sensitive to those around us.

  • that list could take our breath away and leave us curled up in the corner somewhere. but we take comfort in knowing that we are never alone. no one’s arrived while still on this earth.
    ah … now to show grace, mercy, understanding, and support to the other weary travelers we rub shoulders with …

    • yes, it’s a long list, our shared humanity and its realities and so grateful for hope and healing and mercy and love and how transforming it can be.

  • If we, as the body of Christ, would sink our roots into the bottomless depth of the Love of God we would be so transparent and transformed that others would want what we possess. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, then we would be “real”. Lord, please start with me……….

  • And advocate, pray, and support keeping abortion safe, legal and rare!. Thank you for sharing your story. You might have experienced much less pain if there wasn’t so much evil crap out there about abortion. Just sayin’. So sad that you internalized so many smug people’s ugliness…

    • thanks for taking time to share. i’m not so sure but i do know that i hope for a spirit of far less hiding about any of the hard things we are dealing with.

  • We don’t know the pain that may lie behind what see. We’re so glad that you made it through your pain, Kathy and that you’re helping others with their pain. We all have our battles, so let’s love and be kind to each other.

  • So very beautiful. Matching my insides with my outsides will for sure be the work of my life. This reminder helped me to be a little kinder today; have a little less ingrown eyeballs. Who knew when you were crowned that night how much a catalyst for your pain would be for so much hope and healing. <3 Thank you for paving the way. 🙂

    • yeah, kindness is definitely toward others and also toward ourselves, too, sometimes even harder. here’s to matching insides & outsides.

  • So, so true. We never know another’s story, another’s battle. And yet we assume things all.the.time. Thanks for this poignant reminder to choose kindness and let those assumptions fade away.

  • One of my dearest friends was a homecoming queen in high school. She had several tragic experiences in her high school life that we processed together in post-high school days . Unfortunately, she didn’t life long enough to fight her demons. I mourn her passing, but will always remember that she embraced Hope despite her struggles.

    • thanks dear lori. so much hard stuff out there. glad for that reminder “that she embraced Hope despite her struggles…”

  • Thank you for this. The 4th paragraph reminded me of talking with some of my HS classmates at our 10-year reunion (over 10 years ago now!) and learning, much to my surprise, that the people I’d thought were the “in crowd” had themselves been fighting hidden battles. Makes me wonder if they weren’t popular in part precisely because they were better at hiding it than I. From a growing-up-in-my-family standpoint, I had to hide a lot (indeed my true nature) in order to survive, but I wonder if my sensitivity, my forthrightness, my whatever…served to broadcast that I was fighting huge battles (as I was one of the ones most of my peers abused socially). Anyway….

    Now, “look past the surface” and “respond with compassion” resonate with me on a whole other level. I have multiple, huge battles of my own, but the more important thing is this–my mission: Loving people “from the inside out” and motivating others to do the same. Though my focus is more on looking past physical appearance, the primacy of “the inside” remains. This will tell you how that came to be so important to me (“About This Blog” on the left): http://lovingfromtheinsideout.blogspot.com/ .

    • that’s an amazing story! thank you so much for sharing that with me/us. what a painful one, too. i really appreciate you offering that here. peace and hope from colorado. so glad you are telling your story.

  • thanks, esther. yeah, sometimes we think we’re the only ones struggling, the only ones “this bad”, the only ones who can’t figure it out, the only ones….


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