“At least you aren’t a single mom with two jobs trying to raise 3 kids on your own.”
“Just be thankful you don’t have a husband to take care of and a kid to chase around all day.”
“I know it is hard having family far away but at least you don’t have people meddling in your life all of the time”
I have honestly lost count of how many times I have heard one of these statements—or any variations therein. But while we’re pointing fingers, let’s not forget myself.
“Yes, I know it is hard to be 20 and single. But just wait until you’re my age. It gets even harder.”
Why do we do this? Why do we compare our pain and circumstances in a never-ending game of war in which nobody truly wins? It is almost as if we think that by invalidating the pain and struggle of someone else, we validate the immensity of the obstacle we find ourselves staring at. It’s almost as if when we prove that theirs is less, ours is more.
As frustrating as it can be to hear this coming from a peer in the midst of pain and difficult life situations, it can be increasingly more difficult when coming from one in whom you are confiding. To pour out your heart and pain, only to have it compared to the mother of 3 children under the age of 10 who just lost her spouse in Afghanistan—well, if that is the measuring stick for difficulty, most of us might as well close our mouths, suck it up and move on.
And while I would be one of the first to point out that proper perspective in a situation can change so much, we need to learn to see our circumstances in light of who Jesus is, not in light of other people’s lives.
…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” [Philippians 4:6-7]
I used to believe that this peace was one that would take the pain away—like a magic wand, making all problems vanish with a poof. However, as I continue to walk through life and experience the pain this world can offer, I have discovered something that changes how I see every single thing:
His peace is not one that takes away our pain; it is one that carries our pain.
And just as the weight of the pain we each encounter is different, so also is the grace. While I may not know the heartache of losing a spouse or a parent, I also have not known the grace that comes near in that situation to carry me through. And while my friends who married practically the second they graduated may not know the pain I face, they also do not know the sweetness of that grace.
So now, instead of comparing my situation to anyone else’s or theirs to mine, I choose to look past the pain to the grace carrying them through. Because in the end, it is not the pain in our story that truly matters; it is the place we are carried to through it.
Adriane Christensen is a northern transplant trying to navigate the southern culture of Tennessee. After spending many years traveling the world on missions, she now finds herself living her dream in full time ministry and helping other experience the joys of sharing the gospel around the world. Her free time is spent reading, baking and sewing (or at least attempting to). She blogs every once in awhile at www.gazinguponbeauty.blogspot.
Photo credit: Cavan Images