Not as hard as. Not harder than. Not hardest. Everyone’s hard is hard. Everyone’s? Yes…
I discovered this statement a year ago while listening to a podcast. For a while now I have been trying to write about it. I kept talking myself out of it, because I can come up with so many exceptions.
What about the woman who walks hours a day for a single bucket of clean water, wouldn’t that be harder? Is it harder to lose someone you love to accident or illness? Is it harder to mother a child with depression or autism?
So I continued to circle around in a disclaimer of sorts. Hard is Hard, except for this and this and oh wait, this too. All of those things must be harder than others. So, I would pull back again. How can I say that hard is hard, when there is so much “harder” in the world.
Still I returned humbly to the words – Everyone’s hard is hard. In my heart I believe it to be true somehow. Undeniably there is heartache in the world and it finds each of us where we are. This is a dangerous cliff edge dropping to nowhere in an attempt to grade the hardness of personal experience. The harder and the hardest.
When one begins to compare and compete and define what harder looks like then we all lose ground. We cannot know what it feels like to the toddler falling over and again while learning to walk. The shy young child away from home for hours at a time in this new and scary thing called school. Walking the halls wondering if you’ll be the only one not invited to the dance. Working more than one job to make ends meet and still having to choose between paying the electric bill or buying food this week. Aren’t each of these hard?
If I sat here for just one day this list of what’s hard could fill the world-wide web. That humbles me. It is All worthy! I can imagine That list and even now the suffering and immensity of it brings tears to my eyes. What I cannot ever imagine is ranking it. A list of the top 100 hards! How awful would that be?!
I would never tell the teenager uninvited to that dance that his pain has no value. The child has bumps and bruises from falling but learns to walk. To Walk! What an amazing moment! There are no right answers to the questions I posed in the beginning. One is not harder than the other. They are each painful in their own way to the one who lives them.
In the last few days I have been touched by more than one person who could easily lay claim to their own life being harder than that of those around them. But not one of them has. Not one. Each of them has inspired me with their smile and their calm or laughing insistence that all shall be well in no time. They have even gone so far as to point to the hardships of others with concern and empathy.
The struggles we face in life open the door of compassion if we will only let them. They provide us with the chance to show deep love and concern for those who share this earth with us. It is that compassion learned through the trials of life that urges me to engage in the sufferings of the world in a meaningful way.
Because I have held a feverish child in the night I want all mothers to rest knowing their baby is protected from polio. Because I have felt left out at moments in my own life I reach out to the ones sitting alone at the edge of experience.
I love rocks! I have loved rocks since I was a little girl. Everywhere I went I would return with at least one small rock in my pocket. Oh, the dilemma of narrowing it to one or two! All rocks are wonderful just like the ones here. I suspect you’ll trust me when I tell you that despite their different outward appearances, each and every one of them is hard. Even the lovely glass dish that holds them is hard.
Their environments and circumstances have led them to be bound tightly together in just such a way that their beauty shines forth and their hardness protects them. In fact, we value rocks because of their hard nature. Hard is what makes them strong. However, no matter how well time and effort have crafted them to be what they are, the right amount of pressure in the right spot will cause them to crack. Wait… in this new fissure, sand will accumulate, rainwater will gather, and wind or animal will provide a seed.
Soon enough where there was once something strong and hard which itself was broken by a hard event, there is now the chance to hold and nurture a beautiful new life.
Hard is Hard. Wherever you are today and whatever pain hides in your heart please know…