Everyone struggles with something-at least I think so. We all go about in life trying to portray ourselves as well-adjusted and normal. We have flaws and quirks, sure, but for the most part we are on top of things. Most of the time the subterfuge works out pretty well and people buy into our projected persona.
Now, I may be wrong, but I feel confident that the bishops and therapists out there will back me up when I say that most of us have problems, and not always the little kind. Those of us who don’t have big problems most likely have had big problems at one point or another.
When I talk about “problems” here, I don’t really mean sins, per se. I am thinking of things like gambling, alcohol, drugs, depression, cigarettes, p0rn, weight, and anxiety. In this very partial list, some of the items are sinful while others are not. Your struggle might not be on my list. My point is to list a few of the things people struggle with over long periods of time. In fact, the temptation to separate these into sins and non-sins and rank the sins by “seriousness” gets right to the point I want to make.
It seems to me that people spend a lot of time telling themselves why their problem is different than the very bad problems other people have. The person who struggles with gambling may think everyone is making a big deal out of something that is really no different than trading in the stock market. The person who struggles with their weight takes comfort in the fact that being overweight is not a sin like gambling. The person who is hooked on p0rn wonders what is wrong with p0rn in the first place. It’s not like adultery where other people are directly affected.
My point is not that people rationalize-of course we rationalize. My point is that we should be using our own struggles to empathize with other people instead of using our struggles to remind ourselves that we really are better than everyone else despite our problems. We are intolerant of people who have different struggles than we do and there is no excuse for it. So what if being overweight is not sinful and drinking alcohol is, that doesn’t prevent an overweight person from empathizing more fully with an alcoholic by knowing what it is like to struggle with something for years, wanting to change but not knowing how to make it stick. No one who is hooked on cigarettes should ever look at an overweight person and wonder why they don’t just stop eating so much. There is no reason a person who is struggling to overcome p0rn can’t use that experience to better understand a person suffering from depression. Yes, they are different struggles, with different solutions, but there is something fundamentally similar about the experience of struggling that should help us to love one another, as Jesus does.
Aside from general thoughts/reactions, I am interested in any strategies you’ve developed to help you get past the tendency to look down on other people’s problems while rationalizing your own.
[Associated radio.blog song: Fishbone - When Problems Arise]