Over the last few months, much of my life has looked more normal than ever. In my role as a pastor, I was still at church each week even though we were preaching to an empty room. The fact that we could not meet has created some extra things that I needed to attend to on a daily basis.
The business I own fell into the essential category and with restaurants closed, many of them were updating their places so we have been busy. A couple of things we were doing for some major retail chains continued so all of my employees were working more than ever.
On the other hand, my wife’s life looked a lot different. She was not able to go to church each week for a couple of reasons. One, we were only allowing staff and necessary volunteers in the building.
Second, since we were not having church, the grandkids needed somewhere to be since their mom also works at the church so they stayed home with Barbara. Barbara is normally at the door greeting people each Sunday and making sure the cafe at the church runs smoothly. She speaks to local organizations about human trafficking and those events have all been on hold.
During the week, the grandkids were out of school so they were at the house more than normal since mom was working. I was often busy, so a house that was usually quiet during the day had lots of activity. Even TJ Maxx was closed so she had no retail therapy outlet.
There would be times I would sense her frustration and she would tell me that my life was continuing as normal while most of the things she did on a regular basis had come to a complete halt. I have to admit that I had little empathy. I was busier than ever and it was difficult for me to appreciate how different her life was looking at that moment.
Things are beginning to change a little as restrictions ease up, but it caused me to reflect on how easy it is to discount other people’s problems because our life looks normal. We are naturally self-absorbed and selfish people. As long as everything is good in our world we assume that everything is just fine for everyone else. In reality, that is never the case. There is always someone in your life whose life is turned upside down.
They may have lost their job or a loved one has passed away. They may be struggling in their marriage or just trying to figure out how to be a parent. Their job may be stressful or their finances may be in turmoil. They may have received a bad report from their doctor and are not sure what the future holds.
We have all been there. We have been in a place where our lives were turned upside down while everyone else acted like life was normal. It was to them. You would think because we had walked in those shoes we would pause for people and be empathetic about their situation. That is usually not the case. Most of the time if our life is good, then we live as if everyone else is living the good life as well.
Right now someone in your life is struggling. They may not have communicated it well and it may not appear to be very bad from the outside. They could use someone to understand. Just to sit and listen while they empty their struggles for a brief moment. You may be so busy right now that you haven’t stopped to be there for them. But you can relate and you should let them know.
Just because your life looks normal does not mean that everyone else’s does. A little empathy for their plight would go a long way to helping them deal with these times. It will create a stronger relationship and you might even find they will be there for you when the roles are reversed.