Sarah Stultz: We are all different, yet very much the same

Published 10:42 am Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.

One of my favorite parts of my job over the last 10 years has been connecting with people.

The job of a journalist is a special one in that people allow you into their lives, not only at some of their best, but also some of their hardest, times in life.

Whether they just had a new baby, got a job promotion or learned a valuable lesson, people are often quick to talk to journalists about the positive things in their lives. On the other hand, sometimes it is more difficult to interview people who are going through challenging times — whether they have lost a loved one, seen their home devastated by natural disaster or suffered from disease.

Sometimes people shy away from journalists at the more challenging times, and I understand the thought process behind that. I initially wanted to do that as well when we lost our daughter this summer. But I am finding from my own experiences that it is actually better for me emotionally to talk about what has happened.                  

This past weekend I had the opportunity to interview a few residents who have been affected by flood damage in Albert Lea in the last few weeks.

I did not have flood damage in my own home, so I was coming into that situation as an outsider.

Nonetheless, I felt like I connected with both of those families. I was grateful they opened up their hearts and homes to me and told me their stories.

Amid talking about their own tragedies and the heartache they are facing in the aftermath of the flood, I was touched by their genuine interest in me. I was there to interview them, and they were asking me how I was doing. They were telling me how they were offering prayers for me and my family. I was speechless, and at one point I even saw tears were shed.

That common bond of tragedy — though our tragedies were different — brought us together, and I have been awed by it ever since it happened.

Though we all lead different lives and have varied joys and tragedies, we’re really not all that much different than each other. We’re all trying to make it in whatever stage of life we are in, and we all have an opportunity to use our life experiences to lift each other up.   

These families showed me that we don’t have to be close friends, have the same hobbies, belong to the same church, know the same people or even be the same age to be able to come together. That kind of connectedness can bridge gaps, smooth out misunderstandings and lead to positive change for the community.

Now if only we could see that principle more in our society.