“I wish you could feel this hurt! I wish you knew how bad this felt! I wish you had foot pain just like me!”
He screamed the words in a fit of suffering, in a moment of pain.
Our boy was hurting, and he wanted someone else to feel his hurt–to understand his experience.
He wasn’t concerned how his tone was affecting his sister or how his words stung her listening ears; he just wanted to share his pain. He wasn’t concerned that she, too, had taken an accidental fall right along with him and that she, too, had her own boo-boo’s and bang-ups.
No, he was concerned with himself and being heard.
And as I thought about the way our boy handled his foot pain and the manner in which he was handling his hard, I was struck by the reality of his rage, by the rawness of his response.
He wasn’t worried about anything or anyone in that moment except for himself and his hurt.
And as I thought more and more about his response throughout the day, about his deep desire for others to know his struggles and feel his pain, I realized that he’s not alone.
Isn’t that what we see all over this world? All over our news? All over our feeds? All over our workplaces, our churches, our playgrounds, and our homes? EVERYWHERE.
A need to SHOUT without a willingness to hear.
A need to SCREAM without an openness to listen.
A raging desire to be UNDERSTOOD without a humble willingness to UNDERSTAND someone else’s “busted bones” and “broken bruises.”
It seems to be that our son is not alone.
And when we SHOUT without hearing and when we SCREAM without listening, we do a really crappy job of UNDERSTANDING…of empathizing…of taking the time to think about another’s path and another’s shoes.
And isn’t that where things often go south and sour? Isn’t that when things get ugly and upsetting? Isn’t that what happens when we’re so hell-bent on “shouting our own pain” and so focused on others hearing and understanding our platforms, our positions, and our preconceived notions? Isn’t that what happens when we become consumed with our worlds and our woes, our struggles and our sufferings? Isn’t that what happens when we want others to HEAR US without HEARING THEM? Isn’t that what happenswhen we rant on Facebook without regarding souls with different experiences and varied perspectives?
And when we assume responsibility for deciding whose problems are worse, whose positions are right, and whose platforms are the best, we sometimes do a really, REALLY crappy job of loving ONE ANOTHER.
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we shared our pain while simultaneously hearing the pain of others?
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we cared to hear another’s hurts while mutually disclosing our own?
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we were slower to minimize the hurts of others instead of maximizing ours?
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we were slower to post stereotypical memes, condemning rants, and snide remarks?
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we were slower to generalize, excuse, and blame the other side…the other party…the other group?
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we humbly and intentionally took the time to hear the pain of OTHERS before we took the time to SCREAM and SHOUT our SIDE?
Wouldn’t we get a lot further if we LOVED through our pain rather than HURT through our pain?
Call me naive, Pollyanna, or even a wishful-thinker, but I’m inclined to believe that we don’t have to HURT others in order to BE UNDERSTOOD.