Sometimes life is hard. Sometimes our road is rocky, like this hill in Colorado. But even during the rocky times, we can find beauty and choose to love others.
It happens every August. Children go to school for the first time. Kids start high school. Teens head to college. Young people get married or start new jobs. And their parents post about how hard it is and how much they will miss their children. They write about grieving over losing their children. “Sending my child to kindergarten is the hardest thing I have ever done!”
Then bereaved parents take to social media to complain about those parents who can’t possibly be hurting that much. After all, “I’ve buried my kid! Her kid is simply going to college out of state!”
Sending a child to kindergarten, college, or to a new career is not the same as burying your child. I get that. Really, I do! I wish I could see Andrew move to a new state or get married. It’s difficult to see other moms complaining about things we wish our kid was doing. It can cause us more pain as it reminds us of our loss.
But my loss doesn’t mean those other parents aren’t truly hurting. They are. And they do nothing wrong by being honest about their own pain.
In fact, a friend posted an article about the real losses faced when sending a child to college. You can read it here. I posted an article about one mom’s grief over lost dreams for her child here. Both articles speak about a loss that is very different from the loss I experienced.
The pain expressed in these two articles, and by all those parents sending their precious ones to new adventures, is still very real.
And here’s the deal: We are not called to compare grief. We cannot compare our pain to the pain of others, or our loss to their loss.
We are not to judge others in their suffering. We are to LOVE. We are called to love others, not figure out just how much they hurt compared to our hurt.
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:34-35 | ESV
I have seen friends post on social media about grieving when their pet or great aunt died, their favorite car quit running, or they lost a job. I have seen a mom grieve when their son got married, not because she didn’t like the new wife, but because he was moving away.
No, they don’t grieve those things the way I grieved after losing Andrew. Losing a child is a not like any other loss I have ever known. It is not like losing a pet or sending a daughter to the mission field. The grief of losing a child is different from other grief. It hurt to the core of my being. I pray my friends never experience it.
But when they do hurt, I must have compassion for their pain.
Is their pain any less important than my pain? Are they less deserving of compassion because their pain is not like the pain of knowing I will not see my son again on earth? No! My job is not to weigh or compare our pain. My job is not to decide who hurts more.
My job is to love.
I know my friends hurt over their lost pet, grandmother, great aunt, job, or car. They grieve over their loss. We each feel pain uniquely. We grieve uniquely. And I know that no matter the source of my friend’s pain, I must have compassion for them. I must love them through it.
As a believer, I am called to care about my brothers and sisters, to love them, encourage them, and pray for them. I am not to stand in judgement of them or condemn them. I am not to stand back and say, “She can’t be hurting as much as I hurt!”
Part of loving them through their pain includes showing them that healing is available!
As I healn and find joy again, I witness to those around me of God’s goodness and grace.
And as I love others, I begin to heal just a little more each day. I grow in grace, peace, and joy. I experience great things when I humbly walk with my friends on their journeys through grief into grace, no matter the cause of their grief. I get to see a loving, compassionate, faithful God meet their needs. Sometimes He does that through me. And I am blessed right along with my hurting friends.
As a Christ-follower, I am to consider others of more valuable than myself. I am to put others first. I am to “do unto others” as I would have them do unto me. I am to bear their burdens, not compare their burden to my own. I am to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep, without judgement or condemnation.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.
Romans 12:15-16 ESV
Many loved us and helped carry our burden. Ron and I have healed from our pain, our brokenness, our grief in huge part because others walked with us through it. We have peace and joy not just because of Christ, but also because of the love shown to us by His Body the Church. How can I, who have been given so much grace, not give grace to others? How can we, who have been loved by Jesus, not be like Him in our attitude towards others?
Let us love others who grieve, for whatever reason. And in so doing we are the Body of Christ.
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant,being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11 | NIV