“When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,” – Shakespeare, Sonnet 29
“No, you do NOT understand.” she snaps at his attempt at comfort. She is right, he has not walked a mile in her heels, but at a loss for words he had tried to soothe her anguish with the words “I understand.” For he did know something about pain and loneliness. He had experienced his version of it. Her exact feelings and circumstances? No, those he did not truly understand.
I once had a job that did not allow its employees to say “I understand.” Why? To avoid the situation above, to avoid a stressed customers snapped reply of “No you do NOT understand.” We were allowed to say “That situation can be frustrating.” “That is upsetting.” and other empathy statements, but we were to never “understand”. When a friend comes to us with a problem we empathize, we recall a similar situation, and we can feel similar hurts, but we do not truly understand. Every situation, every set of feelings, is going to be unique to the person who feels them.
That is why when we hurt, when we are upset, when we are depressed, when we are struggling, it is also easy to feel so terribly alone.
Psalm 76 – The Message
1-3 God is well-known in Judah;
in Israel, he’s a household name.
He keeps a house in Salem,
his own suite of rooms in Zion.
That’s where, using arrows for kindling,
he made a bonfire of weapons of war.
4-6 Oh, how bright you shine!
Outshining their huge piles of loot!
The warriors were plundered
and left there impotent.
And now there’s nothing to them,
nothing to show for their swagger and threats.
Your sudden roar, God of Jacob,
knocked the wind out of horse and rider.
7-10 Fierce you are, and fearsome!
Who can stand up to your rising anger?
From heaven you thunder judgment;
earth falls to her knees and holds her breath.
God stands tall and makes things right,
he saves all the wretched on earth.
Instead of smoldering rage—God-praise!
All that sputtering rage—now a garland for God!
God is a warrior and He has never been, and will never be, defeated. We are his warriors and even though we will win through God’ glory and grace in the end, we will suffer hard blows and devastating defeats. This Bible passage is an encouragement in those dark times. It is a picture of the aftermath of battle with a day of peace and praise on the horizon.
I Wouldn’t Change A Thing. Part I.
I was a brightly colored girl of 6, whose daddy would buy her colorful presents for her birthday and for “just because.” My white sneakers with the colorful butterflies all over them were my favorites. As I grew older and bigger I sadly outgrew them just as I outgrew my pink bike with the streamers. I remember the time when I came home from a trip with my mom and my siblings to step out of the van and turn to see my first 10 speed bike, it bright purple waiting for me. A surprise. I hugged my dad as I admired the paint job of my new and simply awesome bike. I still have the light switch plate with the purple and yellow butterflies on it that he gave to me once, just because. And hanging with my jewelry is a turquoise necklace he once bought for me while on a mission project. It is not all about the presents he gave me, it was his presence that made life colorful and special as well.
I was the smiling girl of 10. Who looked just like her mother. Her mother who baked cookies and brownies and bars and cakes. Her baking was always the best, being flavored with all of her love (cheesy but true!). She sang “it’s bubbling, it’s bubbling, it’s bubbling in my soul” when anything was boiling on the stove. My husband had to call her to get her biscuits and gravy recipe when we got married. She had spoiled me with my favorite birthday breakfast for too many years. I still expect biscuits and gravy in the morning and angel food cake with ice cream and strawberries in the evening, candles are optional.
I was a brightly colored girl of 6. The one who loved her Pocahontas Barbie doll. You know, the one with the deerskin dress that had the hidden leaves, the colorful leaves that would show up when you took her out in the sun. It was hard not to lose her blue, iconic necklace. It was hard not to lose patience while trying to brush the tangles and leaves out of her hair. Painting with the colors of the wind sure left a lot of tangles.