You Have No Idea

You have no idea. You have no idea what I’m going through right now.

That is what I wanted to say to that mom at the park. That mom who asked me how many kids I have. That mom who asked me how many kids I have only seven days after losing our second baby at almost eight months pregnant.

That mom was the chatty type. But in the numb, emotional state I found myself in, I didn’t mind.

“Is she your only child?” she asked.

I glanced at Toddler, running around with her sweaty face and shiny blonde curls.

“Yes, she is,” I said.

It was the easiest answer to give a stranger who might not be in my life for more than this ten-minute conversation.

But I wanted to shout: 

Two! I have two children! You can see only one of them. Only one of them is here with me. But I have two daughters! And it hurts. It hurts so much! You have NO idea. You have no idea what I’m going through right now!

She talked. I listened. Our children played.

She told me about how different it is to raise a boy compared to a girl, and how her daughter acts like a little princess probably because she is named Charlotte too.

But as I listened, and as I pondered the fact that she had no idea what I was going through, I realized something else:

I have no idea. I have no idea what she’s going through right now.

That mom at the park who was kind enough to strike up a conversation with me, a total stranger. That mom at the park who can't get over how cute and how tall Toddler is. That mom at the park who was smoking a cigarette and drinking an energy drink as she watched her kids on the merry-go-round when we first arrived.

She HAD to have had a rough morning.

And I wonder how many other people I walked by that day, and the many days since then, who are going through things I have no idea about.

Who else is suffering silently as they wade through life in a sea of unsuspecting people? People who have no idea what they are going through?

I know how invisible I feel walking through the grocery store, waiting in line at the bank, talking to a complete stranger at the park.

I can’t be the only one. I KNOW I’m not the only one.

And I can’t help but wonder how I might act differently if I better recognized that I am not the only one. I am not the only one suffering, dealing with pain, working through life’s hardships.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort – who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort flows. {2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV}

I can’t help but wonder how I might feel differently if I better recognized that even when I feel invisible along with my pain, there is One who sees me, who sees my pain. One who knows exactly what I am going through. One who has felt my pain and is able to comfort me.

That’s why He had to enter into every detail of human life. Then, when He came before God as high priest to get rid of people’s sins, He would have already experienced it all Himself – all the pain, all the testing – and would be able to help where help was needed. {Hebrews 2:17-18, The Message}

So dear Stranger, dear Friend. Our pain might be different.

Today, my pain might be the grief of losing a child, while yours is the pain of infertility, a divorce, a dissolved friendship, a cancer diagnosis, a lonely holiday, a financial crisis, a lost job, a failed test.

But pain can’t be compared. All of it hurts.

You have no idea. You have no idea what I am going through. And I have no idea what you are going through either. But I hope we will try hard to see.

I hope we will open our eyes with compassion. I hope we will learn from the compassion Christ demonstrated throughout His life, through His pain.

And I hope we will share that same kind of compassion with others who might be suffering silently. With that cashier at the grocery store, that teller at the bank, that acquaintance at work, that total stranger at the park. 

Through our love. Through our actions. Through our kindness. 

Because we might have no idea. We might have no idea what they are going through.

Grace and Peace,