Sunday, May 21, 2017
This past weekend my kids and I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a family camp in Aspen Grove for single parent families. We met several other families in similar circumstances; there were especially so many young mothers without a husband due to a variety of factors.
While our kids were in age-group activities, the adults had lots of time to enjoy relaxing and visiting with each other. I spoke with several different women who were all single mothers. Some had lost their husbands to death, some had physically or emotionally abusive husbands, and some even had their husbands leave their family completely for varying reasons.
Listening to one woman's story, tears began streaming down my cheeks. She had left her husband and home and now was in protective services to keep her and her children safe. My heart just ached for her and I couldn't help but cry in front of this woman I just met (and for those who know me well, I am not a public crier--- it's really ugly to see me cry). She asked to know my story as well, and after explaining my circumstances to her, she choked up and I could see in her eyes the hurt she felt for me as well. This same scenario happened many times over the weekend, many different stories of hurt and pain and suffering were shared and compassion and understanding grew in our hearts.
Many times I had women tell me how much more difficult my situation must be because of the ages and number of my children, that I must be so much stronger than them because of the added weight of caring and raising for so many little ones. My answer to them was this, "One child or twenty children, or even no children, it all is just plain hard." We would talk some more and then a realization would come that life really is just hard no matter what has happened in your life. I don't have a more difficult life and I am not stronger than anyone else. We do not need to compare or be frustrated with ourselves because we think someone else has it "harder" and seems to be coping well. Comparison only brings us down and we begin to belittle ourselves that we aren't fighting as well as "so and so" because their situation seems more severe. It isn't.
Our trials are not contingent upon other people's trials. Seeing someone enduring a "public" trial (where it is easy to see) does not make those private trials less important to fight or less validated in its difficulty.
During the last several months, I've learned of so many heart-wrenching situations that people are living with right now. Almost all of these difficult trials are quiet; their friends or neighbors or even other family members are unaware of their private struggles, most which are from forces out of their control. We really are all facing (or will face) serious difficulties in our life that make us want to cry out in pain for relief, some so severe that it feels like there is no hope in the midst of it all.
When you hear the phrase, "Be kind to everyone you meet, for we all are fighting quiet battles," I think we MUST listen and act accordingly. We each will fight battle after battle while on this Earth so that we can each win our own war. Some may fight battles with no relief in between and some may have time to buoy up their strength before the next battle. Some battles will last a life time and some may be a short moment in time. But most battles are quiet, fought in the heart with little opportunity to find others to share in their woes and put on the armor to strengthen their defense.
So please know that your battles are valid in your life. Don't ever belittle the battles you fight, for you have difficult things that you can and will overcome to help you win your war and become who God knows you truly are.
There is one similarity that we all share in common in our stories regardless of our circumstances: we can all cope and heal through the power and love of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. No matter the sizes of our mountains to climb, let us all find encouragement and strength from each other that we can do it and that all things are possible when we rely on positive people around us, and above all, in God.
More thoughts on this topic written a year ago:
Comparison is the thief of joy
Reasons on why I publicly share my battles:
To love, to hold.... and to share