One of the responses many people have to a complaint about a life situation is to point out how other people have it worse than you do. At least you aren’t in Africa dealing with ebola. At least you’re not in Syria dealing with civil war. At least you aren’t in California dealing with drought.
These statements are made to help you feel better about your challenges. Because clearly they are so much worse than whatever you (or I) are dealing with.
But as a general rule, that doesn’t help. As awful as those situations may be (and they are awful) - they aren’t the challenge I’m dealing with in that moment. My challenge may seem small or insignificant, but it’s mine.
Then there are those moments when someone elses challenge, someone across the world, reaches in and squeezes your heart.
On the way to work this morning I heard a report on NPR about one of the Yazidi women kidnapped by the islamic state. She realized that her life, and the lives of her sisters, were in serious danger. She vowed to die before she allowed harm to come to any of them. They were being “married” off - so a man could pick a “woman” (her youngest sister is 10), register the “marriage”, take her home as his wife, rape her and beat the crap out of her then bring her back.
This young woman told the men that one of her sisters was pregnant, another blind, one couldn’t walk and that she herself was married - “Do you really want used goods?” The sisters weren’t taken.
Then the guy in charge said, you will marry me and I’ll give your sister to one of the islamic state leaders and we will live in a nice house. He told her that if she didn’t accept she and her sisters would be separated. So she agreed. And he took them to a house as ostentatious as promised. She told him it wasn’t right. She kept telling him this one is too small, that one is too big. Until he picked a house she could escape from.
And she did. With all her sisters. A local person sheltered them, got them passports and helped them leave the area.
This story reached into my heart and squeezed. And I cried.
After I got to work I was thinking about my challenges:
Work is slow and I have no money.
I’m leaving a place I love. A lot.
I’ve been preparing to move for months and I’m stressed out and exhausted.
My private practice exists, but it isn’t growing and I need it to grow.
Then I thought, meh, all stuff I can deal with. And I thought about my blessings:
My family, they are awesome.
My old apartment.
My new apartment.
A car that works.
My sugar free life.
The beautiful setting of my office.
I could go on and on and on. But I won’t, that’s pretty boring. Plus, I assume you get the idea.
Like I said, as a general rule, those comparisons don’t make me feel better.
Today the comparison, which wasn’t offered up, just came across my path, today the comparison reached into my heart and squeezed.
The result was gratitude.