Photo Credit to my lovely friend Rachel S. (not blog-Rachel) who is a wonderful human being and you would all be lucky to know her.
(so this is kind of a follow-up from Rachel’s most recent blog post, so feel free to read it first, if you haven’t already, here).
These are the kinds of prayer requests that are being offered up; healing from cancer, friends’ dad died, depression, bad anxiety attacks, money problems, and etc. and etc. I mumble what feels like a lame prayer request about university, desperately trying to hold back an ocean of homesickness of blue skies and sunshine. The kind of homesickness that sometimes makes speech impossible. I feel embarrassed and self-conscious that I have it still. This is such a little thing so why does it feel bigger?
Quite possibly because my problems aren’t as small as I assumed that they were.
My bestie, Rachel, wrote about feeling as if your problems are worse than others in church but argued this isn’t how we are meant to relate to each other anyways.
If church is a hospital, then we might all be wounded in different ways. But we don’t relate over our type of wounds—our certain sins, our problems, our struggles. We relate over our choice of medicine. Our choice of a Savior.
I agree with all of that (can we just appreciate how amazing of a writer she is, like seriously?), but if I can, I would like to add something else and look at the other side. Are my problems too small?
I’ve grown up on the other side of this reality as a sheltered home-schooled kid who has always internalised problems. I was the goody-two-shoes who had no visible issues. My lack of problems made me feel insignificant but also less judged.
I learned to put on the sweet and quiet mask on while inside of me felt chaotic and rumbling, like a bigger monster was trying to get out. On good days, being told that I had no problems gave me a nice sense of entitlement. On bad days, the chaos inside me grew and grew until the day the monster nearly got out and with a shock, I realised, I have a problem and I don’t know what to do about it.
I can’t help but think that there are issues here when we talk about other people’s problems or even when we talk about our own. We assume that we understand our problems. The truth is we don’t know each other’s problems and cannot fully understand them (why else would we study psychology?). We cannot even understand our own problems. We too often assume issues without really knowing.
This can lead to many issues. With people becoming invisible and lonely, sometimes small problems can become bigger problems and eventually become destructive. In church, our assumptions can lead to judgement or support or indifference. Only one of these outcomes are good.
There are two sides of when we talk about problems. One side is how we view others’ problems (which is what Rachel wrote) and the other side is how we react to said-problems. Do we actually know or are we assuming?
Of course, some problems may be more serious than others, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take these ‘small’ problems seriously if people are struggling with them. After all, isn’t this how we love each other, by ‘bearing one another’s burdens’ (Galatians 6:2)?
So let’s be willing to bear each other’s burden, no matter how big or small it is.