This I Believe: Pain Cannot Be Compared
This I believe: Pain can not be compared, that is the extremely personal pain of the soul. How can I say this? What right do I have? My appearance suggests a comfortable life–blond, blue eyed, fair skinned, name-brand clothing, attendance at a private Christian college. What do I know of pain and suffering?
What I do know, I have learned in pediatric waiting rooms, ascertained in the presence of children accustomed to doctor’s offices, of infants connected to tubes, and toddlers bald from chemotherapy treatment. I have witnessed the worry in parent’s faces as they watch their child play with the provided toys. I’ve also beheld the same anxiety and frustration in my own parent’s tears cried over me when I lay in differing hospital beds. My knowledge comes not from rose colored glasses, but from the reality of my illness.
I believe personal pain cannot be measured by any other, nor weigh against another’s. My pain, my sufferings, only I know. I am the only one who has lived my life, grown up with the people and circumstances I have, developed my own passions, quirks, defense mechanisms, and thought processes. Only I am affected in the way I am, because only I am me. I can experience the same situation as another person yet each react in a different way. My sister, for example, hates moving; it depresses her, leaving all that’s familiar. I on the other hand, love it, the new places and faces, a new adventure. Same circumstances, different responses.
However the awareness that I am alone in my pain has not always positively affected me. There have been times, and occasionally still are when I am overcome with loneliness and helplessness. Times when I wish there was someone else who could feel what I feel, to understand and even appreciate the intense ache in my soul because of the things I have experienced. But I have come to the conclusion that that wish is impossible. And yet I find that unexplainably freeing at the same time. There is a healing quality in recognizing that my pain is uniquely my own. No one else can grasp it. It’s solely between me and God; there is no third party.
So in my distinctly personal affliction I have come to realize, I can feel someone else’s pain as much as they can feel mine—they can’t, so I can’t. I can relate my own experiences to theirs. I can find common ground in tears and vulnerability. But I can not know it as they know it. So who’s to say which person possesses the superior pain? Which hurts the deepest, debilitates most? Well, neither. Nobody can measure what they do not know.
My pain is my own.
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