I have talked with people who said, “You don’t know what it is like to hurt until you endure what I am enduring.” I have heard parents say, “You do not know what exhaustion is until you have children.” I’ve recently heard, now that I am a homeowner, I will learn what it means to be broke and busy. I have friends who would say, “Don’t tell me life is tough until you have worked fourteen hours on a flight deck in blistering heat, just to get off and realize there are water restrictions because of a JP-5 issue which means you can’t shower, and to top it off today is your kid’s birthday and you’re in the Middle East looking at getting home some time next year.” Okay, that was a long one, but seriously, you’ve heard them and maybe even made statements like these.
I’ll be honest, I’ve made statements like these. I’ve accused people of being wrong, mislead, ignorant, and/or naive simply because they hadn’t walked in my shoes or becuase I have experienced something before them. Have you?
I am bringing this up because too often we dismiss the struggles of others, we brush them off and this is not Cristlike behavior. We are all different people with varying personalities, backgrounds, and experiences. Just because I have experienced something does not mean you cannot impart further wisdom in reference to that experience. Just because you are exhausted due to such and such, it does not negate the true exhaustion of another. Just because certain hurdles of life were presented to you, the fact that other people face obstacles must not escape you!
“You don’t know depression until you lose someone you love.” What about those that live life with diagnosed depression?
“You don’t know what difficult is until you serve in the military.” What about those that have fought through abuse and then addiction?
“You don’t know__until you__”
It’s time to stop thinking in terms that put self at the center and your experience as supreme.
I haven’t had the worst life but I know what hardship is. I don’t have kids but I know what it is to be exhausted. I have never had to worship God in secret but I know what persecution is. I haven’t lost the person I love most, but I know what pain is.
If you want to grow it begins with taking the focus off yourself.
If you want your relationships to grow, it begins with letting go of your way and realizing the experiences and feelings of the person you are looking at are real. When we disregard what a person feels, when we disregard what a person has experienced, we are telling them we are better than they are–we are saying their life, experience, worth, and feelings are not as significant as our own. Some Fruits of the Spirit are gentleness, kindness, goodness, self-control, and love. We must apply those to situations like these.
Next time someone is venting, complaining, unloading, or just plain talking, do not nullify their statements by claiming yours are supreme; listen to them, hear them, and remember… iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17).