Saturday, July 08, 2006

On problems

One thing that I've come to realize is that, at least on a personal level, problems are relative. I don't mean in historical perspective or on a list of pros and cons, but when circumstances enter the flow of daily life.

Often what we are faced with is goes far beyond what can be quantified on a sheet of paper. To try to understand all of the pain and stress that accompanies all of the emotional, mental, and, sometimes even, physical pain is impossible. We reach for comparisons. We use word pictures. I've even found myself trying to contrast my problem with somebody else's joy in order to adequately describe my trouble.

(Concerning the latter, I'll admit that it is very easy to be at best disillusioned [at worst disgusted] with others in their pleasure. "People so happy, they can't help it walking shoulder to shoulder with people so unhappy, they can't help it." Taking the lens through which you view someone else at one end of the emotional spectrum and pulling it inside-out to view yourself at the other end seriously distorts even the simplest matters.)

Since my wife's diagnosis, I could not tell you the number of the people who have, in the course of conversation, said something like, "Oh, but I won't bother with that. I don't have a real problem like you."

Whenever I hear this I'm reminded of the number of "real" problems that I faced before all of this happened. Are they no longer real? They sure seemed real at the time! Have I been wrong about worrying over all of these things and about the time I spent feverishly trying to solve them?

The answer is no.

No--because the problem only seems insignificant in (the aforementioned) historical perspective. It was real at the time and very scary. Last I checked, hindsight is still 20/20.

No--because everyone has their own set of problems. No one goes through the exact same thing as anyone else, and to try to compare the two side by side is impossible and, at the same time, ridiculous. (I know, I've tried it.)

No--because you don't need philosophy. What you need is an answer! Maybe even a little bit of compassion.

We could waste our time, effort, and resources on regretting our past weaknesses during times of crisis. We could grow bitter over the lesser problems or greater joys of others. We could mock our present circumstance with stories of the even more unfortunate stories from the other side of the globe. What good would any of it do us?

I want to be willing to share the load with others, regardless of the level of my problems or yours. Unselfish as this conclusion sounds, its main motivation is this: I need your help.

I hope I've removed one more obstacle in your path.

Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

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