A classmate of my 4-year old nephew kept crying at preschool, so my nephew put his arm around him and asked what was wrong. Through tears, the boy told him he missed his mom. My nephew responded, “We all miss our moms, but we have to be here anyway.” With that, the little boy wiped his face, walked up to the teacher and gave her his tissue.
(I know it would have been a cleaner story if the boy just put the tissue in the trash instead of getting the teacher all germy. But I just write the truth however unsanitary it may be. )
The teacher had already tried to comfort the boy, but it was my nephew’s ability to identify with what the child was feeling that finally helped him move on. I think how much this relates to all of us regardless of our age or how we dispose of snotty tissues.
It’s a comfort to know we are not alone. So often, in our sadness, loneliness, and lowliness, we feel like the only ones. Instead of reaching out, we go further inward. Our suffering becomes isolating and that makes us feel worse.
Talking about things takes the sting out. When my nephew told the little boy that everyone misses their moms, surely he felt a little less alone. Sometimes comforting the sorrowful is as simple as letting someone else know that what they feel is okay. Maybe someone’s circumstances are sad, terrible, no-good, and rotten, but to know it’s normal to feel the wretched emotions associated with all that misery is a great comfort. It takes the shame away so you can feel the pain and move on from it.
The whole act of hiding our pain is really idiotic considering the universality of suffering. I should know; I practice this idiocy. I even do it in my relationship with God. When I’m hurting and should be leaning into him, I discount my worthiness by thinking he has bigger problems to deal with. Mine, in the whole scheme I compare things to, is trivial. Yet, we are anything but trite to him. And let’s be real, pain is pain. A four-year-old missing his mom is as real as someone grieving the passing of a loved one or the loss of a relationship. There is no hierarchy to suffering other than the one we assign, often to minimize our own pain to avoid the unpleasantness of it.
I remind myself that Jesus came to live as one of us. He understands our suffering. He experienced it. He endured it. Best of all, he rose above it. The wounds of his human experience: humiliation, betrayal, rejection, loneliness, loss, and fear are no more. Nor are they forgotten. However unique we feel our circumstances are, we are assured that he can identify with our plight.
We never need to feel alone, especially with God. His comfort is there regardless of our willingness to seek it. Comfort that may look like nothing more than a tiny arm wrapped around a friend’s shoulder, yet powerful enough to stop tears.
I always find it such a comfort to share my sorrow with others even if initially I resist. Do you feel like you tend to reach out or go further inward when you are struggling with something?
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