Humbling Thoughts

December 20, 2008 at 11:14 am | Posted in Life, Thoughts | 13 Comments

I had a moment tonight hit me like a ton of bricks. One of those moments that really make you stop and think. And examine. And process.

I was having dinner with my church staff co-workers. It was our Christmas dinner, but of course the conversation turns to people, the ones we serve. My pastor asked me how everything was going and what was going on at my other part-time job. I started to tell him about this family I have been working with the past few weeks. Single mom, two special needs children, recently divorced from an abusive relationship and facing her first year as a working mom trying to make ends meet. Not only is she very alone here in this town with no family, but she is also months away from the first anniversary of burying her first-born child who died due to another childhood disease which has plagued her family. Just watching her function as a human being is humbling.

As I was telling my pastor this woman’s story and the struggles she is facing,  he said something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I can’t remember the exact quote but he basically said something like this yet way more eloquently.

“The biggest misconception we make about people is the amount of pain that they are experiencing.”

Just take a minute. Let that sink in. Read it again. I am pretty sure it took a good twenty minutes for me to wrap my head around that statement.

How true is that? Doesn’t that make you look at every single person you encounter a little differently? Doesn’t that make your view of the world a little more humbling? No matter what we think about our own circumstance we can never know the amount of hurt, frustration, anger or bad, messy junk people bring to you when you encounter them. Doesn’t that make you want to approach people in your everyday life with a little more compassion and love? Doesn’t that make you want to invest in the lives of other people so that you may be a person who could actually help alleviate some of that pain? Not heal, alleviate. There is a difference.

Yes, we all have our own pain, but when you invest your time in other people it will not take you very long to find someone who has harder circumstances than yourself. 

How should it effect our viewpoint of them? Why should you care?

Because it will change the way you look at people as a whole. And in doing that it just may change you too, for the better. It will help you to be more empathetic and observant and yes, even concerned about someone other than yourself. It may make you examine other people and where they come from and what they are carrying around with them. It just may put things in perspective and it just might make you a better person.



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  1. It’s true. We don’t realize how much pain some one is experiencing. Thanks for sharing that.

  2. I DO think we judge people’s pain too easily. We think that people who are going through such hardships MUST be having difficulties and can’t be happy. I’m sure this woman is thankful for her family and the support she’s receiving from everyone. Keep working with her, I know she appreciates it.

  3. This is something I think about a lot in regards to the families that I work with. I am so accepting of my students and their needs, that sometimes I need to stop and remind myself how hard it is for their families to deal with having a child with special needs. It’s easy for me to forget that I don’t know the child that a family lost when they received a diagnosis — I’ve only ever known the child I see, not the child that they hoped to raise.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. That is definitely true. I learned it from experience when I went through a really painful time and all of my old friends decided to turn a blind eye to it all. When I finally came out of it they all got upset with me and said “you should be grieving”. Even though I had been for months! They just didn’t want the weight of going through it with me. I’ve learned a lot because of it.

  5. thanks for sharing that story!!

  6. A lot of times when I deal with grumpy people, especially ones at work I try to remember that something has happened to them to make them that grumpy.

  7. I’m really glad you shared this. Very poignant, very true, and you’re right – such a simple realization greatly changes how people are perceived. Thank you.

  8. Wow thank you for sharing that, that’s something I think a lot of people forget, myself included.

  9. Oh so true. I just wrote about a family we raised over $500 for, the mechanic works here at our substation, and he had no idea we were preparing this for him and his family. You have no idea what people are going through and even if you do think you know, you don’t know the whole story.

  10. what a great story tipp. we really do need to remember to take a step back every once and a while.

  11. I totally needed to read this right now. Thank you for sharing it. 🙂

  12. Wow. Thanks for sharin that, Tipp. I’m going to keep that in mind as I go around this holiday season.

  13. wow. just wow. thanks for that.

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