We all have our ways of coping, but there is one problem that holds us back. As humans, we have a tendency to compare ourselves with others, and sometimes this means that we strive to quantify our experiences when that might not be valid. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with emotional experiences. If you need an example of this, just take a look around at the next funeral or memorial service you attend. Who does everybody flock to with their condolences? The closest living relative, of course. The bereaved wife, parent, or child will get the most time, the biggest hugs, and the most words of comfort. After that, it slides downhill. There’s a definite hierarchy over who ‘deserves’ condolences the most. Just look at the receiving line. People are lined up in a pecking order. Society applies this order because we only have a limited amount of energy, so we have to distribute it carefully. Nobody’s worried about the grandchild, the nephew, or the cousin from two states away because, after all, “it’s not as bad for them.”
Or is it? How do you know that the weeping wife wasn’t so frustrated by her husband’s lengthy illness that she’s secretly relieved that it’s over, and it’s the cousin stoically sitting in a middle pew, ignored except for a few random “who are you” inquiries, who’s really falling to pieces inside?
This is a simple example, but it makes the point. We have a tendency to try to quantify our emotional reactions, but the truth is that all things aren’t equal. Different things strike different people in different ways. It happens all the time. Rick came home on Monday frustrated, and when he told me I said “yea, that crap happens to me so often that I’ve learned to ignore it.” But two weeks ago I came home frustrated, and he told me that I need to let it go and stop frustrating myself. It’s all a matter of perspective. Heck, your own perspective can change. I realized that Rick was right in his assessment of my situation a few days later, and I actually saw benefits in the situation that I hadn’t recognized in my frustration over the initial emotional blow.
I think this is why we fear brokenness in ourselves and in others. We make ourselves miserable by trying to determine whether our (or others’) feelings and reactions are justified when measured against people around us instead of simply feeling what we feel and dealing with it directly. Of course, we can’t be all things to all people, and it takes some soul searching to understand what’s happening inside ourselves. We don’t truly know and understand all things, and we certainly can’t solve all problems. There will always be things we don’t know that color the situation in ways we don’t realize. But we can check our perspective and learn to handle things with the grace and discernment that the situation needs. We can pray for the knowledge to take action, offer words of advice or comfort, or to back off and let things go.
So before you seclude yourself; before you hide what pains you; before you comfort one person; before you tell another person to get their crap together; before you think ‘they have no right to be like that;’ before you pity someone; before you jump up and do something to numb the pain; before you offer unsolicited advice; before you give up; stop and remember that reality is no respecter of persons. You don’t have all of the answers, and you may or may not get them because the big picture is bigger than our ability to perceive reality. You have no idea how all things connect and work together for ultimate good, and sometimes pain is the only path there. Brokenness is part of the human experience, and nobody is exempt. The real question is how you feel and deal with it. Are you a mosaic or a piñata? That determines not only your life path, but how you help others on their life path as well.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great rest of the week.