“Life is hard.” How many times have you heard that or a similar phrase used. And it is true; at many points in our lives are marked by struggle and difficulty– that’s inevitable. We are all going to struggle with loss and grief, worry and anxiety, weakness, failure, fatigue- mental and physical, and a whole host of other issues. But what I find truly sad is that we all understand life is difficult and we all know what it is like to go through hardships, but so often we not only fail to help others we actually decide to pile on. A person confesses a sin or struggle and are told to simply give it up, or are shunned and isolated. Another confesses anxiety is told not to worry and given more things to worry about. Someone is injured by a word or phrase and is told, “it’s a joke” or “you’re too sensitive”.
The demand of the of the Bible (enshrined in culture as the Golden Rule) is to treat others as I would want them to treat me. And often how I want to be treated is to have others be gentle when I feel the stress of life. I want others to recognize that there are places where I feel life differently and it is harder for me to deal with than for them. Obviously, there are also times when I will be hurt and others cannot shoulder any of the burden. In those times I ask them to simply understand and not pile on. If this is true when I am hurting then I should look to treat others this way when they are hurting.
Here is the rub, this becomes very difficult to live out at points. When I have been working all day and feeling stressed and come home to a stressed wife who has been dealing with remote learning it is difficult to sympathize. When I tell a joke that another person finds offensive, I want to see humor not tears. When I am able to do a job that another person finds difficult, I want to feel frustrated the job is taking longer than it should. But in each of those circumstances I have the choice to love or to pile on, I can add more stress or take stress away. I can see the struggles of the other person or choose to ignore them. The choice to be considerate is not always easy, sometimes it means holding my tongue when I desperately want to speak. Sometimes it means shouldering more work when I am tired; but when I do these things I am living out the community I am called to create.
Unfortunately, this is not the culture of business. Business tells us to add to another person’s misfortune. we are taught to succeed by causing other’s to fail. In the end this philosophy destroys us because it destroys civilization. Such patterns lead to ruin and we must put a stop to them. Next time you talk to an individual who expresses the pain of life, take a moment to ask yourself what is the stress that person is feeling and ask what you can do to prevent yourself from adding to the stress. Life may be hard for all of we but we can at least help to ease it as much as possible.