word of the day: lie \ˈlī\ to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive; to be in a helpless or defenseless state
“Your life is harder than everybody else’s.”
I’ve always had a particular proclivity for self-pity. (In fact, I wrote about it once already back when Jake started medical school. It seems fitting that this lie would rear its head again here at the start of residency.)
Sometimes I wonder what it’s like to be a person who doesn’t succumb to deep puddles of self-focused melancholy (much like I wonder how people express their feelings without embracing the use of hyperbole). But, as it is, I am a person who does.
|This was the most recent individual selfie I could find. People are happier readers when they have pictures to look at, right? Also, go Indians! I love Cleveland sports.|
I can list a lot of hard things that have happened to me in my life. Like when Lily was born and Jake was gone for the first three weeks studying for boards. Or when Norah was born and Jake was gone for the first three weeks in Ohio. Or when I was up nursing Lily in the middle of the night and it hurt so bad that I said every curse word in the book (sorry, mom and dad). Or when Norah thought the 4 month sleep regression should start at 5 months and LAST 4 months. Or when I moved to Ohio.
enter the lie.
It shimmies itself in during those hard moments; the times when I’m at my wit’s end and gives me a glimpse into the “easier” lives of the people around me: Her husband was around when their babies were born. Her babies sleep through the night. She doesn’t even know how bad breastfeeding can hurt. They didn’t have to move to Ohio. (The list is extensive.)
This lie causes two major problems. First, it takes away my perspective. Just so we’re clear, my life is not hard. There are people who read this blog who have lost children, lost spouses, and lost marriages. Who have battled infertility and depression and severe anxiety which I will never know. There are people who have raised babies for years at a time while their husbands served overseas. I’m sure you cringed reading about my “calamities,” and I don’t blame you.
Even more problematic, this lie isolates me from the people who matter the most because it breeds resentment. In those moments of self-pity, my instinct is to avoid the people whose lives seem easier than mine. Unfortunately, those tend to be the people I need the most (which is obviously not a coincidence).
The counteracting Truth is tricky, too, because God never promises that this life is meant to be easy. Jesus repeatedly asks people to give up everything they have to follow Him. The cost of following is high. It’s worth it, but it’s high.
He does promise to be with me, though (again and again and again and again). He also promises that perseverance and growth (both good things) come from pressing on through the trials (James 1, among other references).
I don’t want to play the game of Whose Life Is Harder than Whose? It’s not fun or productive or beneficial in any way (and, I could be playing How Much Can I Get Done Before the Microwave Beeps? for crying out loud).
I want to live a life in which I acknowledge that, yes, sometimes this life is hard. Sometimes I am thrown curveballs that others don’t have to dodge or am given a high hurdle when someone else’s is shorter. But I also want to live a life in which that’s okay. In which I am not always just waiting for my life to be “easy” again or ranking my difficulties on a scale of bad to worse. I want perspective and people and to celebrate ALL the various things that come my way (and the way of others). Because there’s always good to be found. Even in the hard times.
This life is a dot on the line of eternity. All God asks me to do is love Him and love others well. When I am able to shift my focus to that and remember that God promises to never leave me even in the most challenging of times, the lie that my life is harder than everybody else’s becomes moo.
It’s like a cow’s opinion. It doesn’t matter.