One important lesson I’ve learned, with everything I’ve gone through, is not belittling other people’s problems when mine feel so huge. Everyone see mountains. Each challenge, each circumstance that happens in our lives that is out of our control, feels huge.
I’ve had to learn not to judge other people’s struggles with the weight of my own. Learning to be compassionate to others in the middle of my own pain is important. It is not a test of whose problems are bigger than whose. It’s never been about comparison. Yet, sometimes it is human nature to compare and minimize what others are feeling, based on our own feelings.
I’ll give you an example of where I’m going with this. I was at a soccer game one night and my boys were playing. I enjoyed sitting on the sidelines chatting with the other Moms. I was a new single Mom of six children; it was still fresh, it was the first year after my ex left. We were forming new routines, getting used to life on our own, and I was lonely. Especially at night, when the kids all went to bed and the house got quiet…I had no one to talk to. Silence can be deafening!
A Mom on the sidelines of the soccer game started to complain about her struggles when her husband worked out of town. She said she felt like a single Mom when he was away.
It took a lot of energy inside me not to compare. In my mind, I wanted to say that you “feel” like a single Mom but you are not. In a defined period of time, your husband will return and you will have love, you will have a break, you will feel supported, and you won’t feel alone. I bit my tongue. For her, these periods of loneliness were overwhelming. For this Mom, being on her own was a mountain she had to face regularly as his shifts ebbed and flowed. I could not say to her that she didn’t understand what a single Mom “really” feels like. For a single Mom, there is no love from a husband ever; no breaks other than what friends and family can give you, and it’s lonely. As much as others try to help, at the end of the day, you are alone. The mountain I faced was different.
I was challenged that day, not to belittle how someone else feels, no matter how I am feeling. Everyone faces a different mountain and each mountain feels like a really big climb. There are no comparisons, and each one deserves compassion for the struggles they face. Each one of us seeks validation for how facing the mountain feels, and each one of us deserves the encouragement needed to climb that mountain.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load.” Galatians 6: 2-5 (NIV)
If I thought for a moment and put myself in the other soccer Mom’s shoes, I could understand how she felt. Without my own problems clouding my judgement, I could see her loneliness too those weeks he was gone. I could see the burden she carried of having to take care of her children all by herself and getting them to all of their activities alone. I could see her weariness. It didn’t really matter that she had a husband who would be home soon. What she was feeling that day and those weeks was real. We all carry the weight of our own struggles and we should learn to be kind to one another with no judgement. No comparisons.
Everyone sees mountains, and each mountain is different. May God bless you with all the strength you need today to climb your mountain! May you be able to encourage others who face their mountains.