Angie is one of those women that lights up a room with her laughter, warmth, sense of humor, energy and kindness. She occasionally snorts because she laughs so hard, but even more than on occasion I witness Angie giving. She gives of her life to people around her. She is always making a meal or delivering flowers or stopping into pray for someone or running someone’s kids around. She is just a pure servant inspired by Christ to be so. She brings this to the Collide team as she heads up Team care for our team of 22 women leaders who invest in others. She helps us care for them when they are having babies, miscarriages, cancer, bad days and good days. Because this woman gives of her life to that of others, her words here about comparing are an invaluable reminder to each one of us. – Willow
About a month ago, I was at a friend’s house and she asked me, “How have you been?” I am sure I looked at her a little funny and, knowing what she was going through, I responded with some form of, “Well, I don’t have cancer.” She then gave this little chuckle; similar to what we moms give our kids when they don’t quite grasp something. She looked me straight in the eye and said, “You can’t compare your life to mine.” I then proceeded to give her an edited version of how I was doing, but of course, nothing too deep. I did us both a disservice.
Since then, I have not been able to move past what she said. “You can’t compare your life to mine.” I can’t even count how many conversations I’ve had in the past month where I have heard someone compare their lives to others. The more I thought about comparing our lives, the more I started to recognize the lack of honesty that surrounds our own pain, hurts and thankfulness.
My pain is not like anyone else’s pain. My hurts are my own, my wounds are my own, as are my fears, hopes, dreams and gratitude. It is extremely difficult for me to be honest about my wounds. I think it makes me appear weak. The funny thing is I don’t think that about anyone else. I find people who share their pain to be brave and courageous. My pain is not the same as your pain. When my marriage is in pain it may not be loud for all to see. It may be this quiet trickle that only a few people notice, but it’s still painful. My inadequacy in parenting may be loud, where as others are quiet, and again, it’s still my pain.
My childhood best friend, my younger cousin of 3 months, died this past February. I have never felt such pain, agony and heartache. This beautiful women, who I dreamed with, imagined and planned my life with, was gone. I would never hear her laugh again, bring our grandma flowers, or micro manage her little brothers again. It sucked, it still sucks. My pain sucks. My pain is different than your pain, but it is still pain.
I do not want to live a life comparing my pain to your pain. I am not quite sure how to do this. There are days that are so overwhelming. Who wants to get out of bed when all they are dealing with is a sad heart? What I have tried to focus on is what I am truly grateful and thankful for. Some people may say the differences in those two are like splitting hairs. When I think of gratitude, I think of my health, my kid’s health, my husband. I am grateful I am healthy, that my family is healthy and that I am married to a man who doesn’t give up. What am I thankful for? This is harder for me. I am thankful for the snow falling, as I ride the chair lift up the mountain and the quiet peace I find in that 5 minute ride. I am thankful for flowers and sunshine and pineapple.
As this past year has been full of heart wrenching grief, it has also included a battle to stabilize my marriage, raise a teenage daughter and deal with health issues in our family. I have found the one thing that has saved me is focusing on what I am thankful for. I found that the more I pursue thankfulness and gratefulness; it reminds me to love and love deeply. When I am reminded what it means to love, it brings forgiveness. Forgiveness for myself and to those who have hurt me. The crazy thing with forgiveness is that it heals our brokenness and our pain. However there is no quick fix. Choosing to not compare my hurts to my husband’s is not easy. Choosing to be thankful for his smelly running clothes may sound dumb, but it reminds me that he is here and present and fighting for us everyday in spite of our ugly fight the day before. I am then reminded of his love and my love for him and that brings forgiveness. Our pain is our own, our thankfulness is our own. I am a broken person, full of ugly hurts, seeking wholeness.
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