My Sister-in-law (who is a real life superhero) once shared this insight with me: “As a nurse, they tell you if a patient tells you their pain level is a 10, then it’s a 10.”
In other words, never underestimate what someone else is feeling. I might also add, never underestimate what you are feeling. A pastor friend of mine recently told me and my husband, “Feelings demand to be felt.” Seems simple, but how often do we feel something and shove it to the side, thinking it’s unfounded or stupid? I know I do that a lot. I tend to compare my “woes” with those around me (or even those in other parts of the country i.e. “Children starving in Africa”) and write my feelings off as immaturity or selfishness on my part. That does nothing for processing those feelings, and, as a consequence, they come back in full force later to incapacitate me.
People all around us are experiencing feelings of loss, pain, grief, insecurity and more. Maybe they’ve lost their job. Maybe they lost a loved one. Maybe it’s as simple as one of our children lost a favorite toy. Maybe they are simply afraid.
Remember that verse in First Corinthians? There exists these three: Faith, Hope, and Love…Our job is to offer those to people around us. Faith in a God that sees them and is working in their life for their good. Hope in that even though things look bleak right now, there is a “light at the end of the tunnel.” Love in that we don’t downgrade what they are feeling, but validate it and love them through it.