In every above-mentioned category I have a friend struggling with one (or two) of these tough life circumstances, and it pains me. It honestly breaks my heart.
Then there’s me.
And by me I mean, the rest of us – as in – us other poor peeps who have no tragic story to tell but who are daily sluggin’ through the “boring” challenges of life.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend who has nothing “major” going on but I could tell by her body language that something was up.
“No need to say anything. Just know I’m here if you need me.”
“I ………………. I don’t know where to start.”
“Is it a secret and you’re wondering if you should say anything?”
“No no, nothing like that. It’s nothing major at all, honest. It’s actually quite the opposite. In fact, it’s so boring I don’t want to waste your precious time with my minor problems.”
Being the good friend that I am (lol), I said, “That’s lame, now spill.”
As she poured out her heart, what she had to say resonated so deeply with me that it seriously felt like she crawled into my head and was diggin’ around in my brain. “It’s everyday… I mean… it’s so tiring… it’s so hard… I just don’t know anymore …. If only I could…. reach out I guess… how do I say … I need someone… where is the line when… I’m not sure how to keep it together.”
I knew exactly what she was saying and I knew exactly what she wasn’t saying.
Which got me thinking….
Have we prioritized problems?
Have we devalued day-to-day struggle?
Have we ranked tears?
Have we caused people to shut down, to clam up, to recluse because we’ve made each other’s problems feel like they’re, “meh, no biggie,” if they aren’t packaged with a scary life or death diagnosis?
What if the tear-inducing problem is simply this: life is hard. That’s it! No bells. No whistles.
In the last few years I have seen friend after friend cry because of unimaginable life circumstances – death, depression and divorce, you suck! But I have also seen a friend cry because her baby isn’t sleeping through the night and she is so sleep deprived that she can’t even form cohesive sentences.
I’ve seen a friend cry because her little girl is getting picked on at school.
I’ve seen a friend cry because her husband is unfulfilled with his job and his unhappiness breaks her heart.
I’ve seen a friend cry because she is wrestling with some tough faith questions and she doesn’t even know what she believes anymore.
There are tears when someone can’t have children, but there are tears when someone does have children. There are tears when someone longs to be married, but there are tears when someone already is married.
Our circumstances are different but our tears look the same.
So I think it’s high time we stop.
If we’re going to be a culture of people who do community, who love, who serve, who give, who care, who give a flying crap – and I pray for this type of culture shift more than anything else in life – then it starts by lending our ears to listen, lending our hearts to humility, and lending our minds to understanding.
Serving other people means we serve them. Period. No strings, no judge-y expectations, and no pre-formulated “I am so awesome” opinions attached!
We need to stop demeaning people’s tears by reminding them of what they aren’t going through.
We need to stop prioritizing people’s pain by pre-determining if certain circumstances are worthy of our time.
We need to stop jumping on the bandwagon of newsworthy conflict because it’s the hottest crisis of conversation.
Pain is pain.
Heartache is heartache.
Tears are tears.
So go ahead and love people.
Listen to them.
Care about them.
Ask them how they’re doing.
Give a crap.
I dare you.
Because you too know what’s is like to feel low…. to feel blue… to feel tired… to feel down… to feel done. You may not know exactly what they’re going through, but you know what it’s like to cry. Start there.