I’m not a huge fan of the idea that “other people have it worse than we do” theory. It can make us feel like our feelings and hurts and griefs are invalid. It can make us feel guilty for having trying moments in our “first world” homes and with our “first world” problems. It can make us feel like we shouldn’t have moments when life feels hard (and we all know about the icky side of “should”).
There is a bit of balance though. There is something healing about remembering that others do have it worse than we do. Not to compare. Not to invalidate our feelings or trials. But to remind us that we all have pain and grief and hard moments. Every single one of us. If we use this thinking of others not to compare but to connect, it can be a good thing. Thinking of others, not to invalidate our own pain, but to remember that…we are not alone.
We are not alone.
I think that’s one of the most beautiful things about Jesus on the Cross. It’s an extreme example, but suffering doesn’t get much worse than that. It’s not to compare ourselves to the suffering on the Cross, but to remind us that we are not alone and we can get through the trials of life. We all have moments that it feels like we can’t possibly get through. But we can and we can do it with grace. That’s not to invalidate or judge our less than graceful moments…we all have them, we’re human. We can pick ourselves up, remember others are struggling too, and do it with faith. Even if, for the moment, it feels like we are faking it.
Long ramblings to get to this. This week is an action week. Take some time this week to think of another who is struggling. You might not have to look far. It might be someone in your house or neighborhood or office. Then, offer back. Sometimes, the best way to get out of our own struggles is to help someone else.
Make a phone call, write a letter (maybe start writing a few Christmas cards this week), buy some food for the food bank (yes, I said “buy”, there’s something more meaningful about shopping for food you love to give away), bake some cookies to give away. Find something meaningful way to you to give back. It doesn’t even have to be someone you are seeing as suffering. Maybe give to an organization that you love. Maybe bring a coffee to a coworker who seems “just fine”…likely they are struggling too. Something that will bring a smile to someone’s face. That is a special gift!
Focus this week is to give back in some way. Gratitude and Giving are intertwined! Be grateful and offer back out of that gratitude.
A great book (I know I’ve mentioned this before) is 29 Gifts. This is a great book, especially if you are feeling resistant to the giving spirit.