One of my favorite sayings is, "be kind; everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about". I think that in the time we are living in at the moment, this is especially true.
What I like about this phrase is that it reminds us that you don't have to understand what somebody is going through to empathize, validate, and support their pain. This includes whether or not somebody's opinion aligns with yours, or whether or not you feel that somebody's emotion towards a situation is validated. It's theirs, therefore, it matters.
You see, the way we react to things and develop emotional tendencies towards situations is all shaped by our environmental, biological, psychological, spiritual, and social influences. Therefore, two individuals might react to the same situation with two very individualized responses, due to their emotional resilience and processing. Neither are wrong, they are simply different.
Of course, there are circumstances when there are moral issues that are brought into the mix, and there is clearly a right and a wrong response to a situation. However, for many of life's trials, there are gray areas that are shaped by our own unique perspective.
What I want to share with you today, is that, if you are going through something you feel like nobody else understands, it's okay. It doesn't make your feelings invalid. They are YOURS. The moment you begin to lean on the opinions of others to validate what you're going through is the moment you betray your own emotions and diminish the trust you have within yourself. Instead, it's beneficial to lean into these emotions, embrace them, and explore them until you understand why they are there and what they are trying to teach you.
Likewise, when you are supporting somebody else, think of the complexities going on in their inner dialogue. Be kind. Don't be a contributor to somebody's else's diminished self-trust and confidence. Encourage them to lean in. In fact, lean in with them. Mark 12:31 says, "Love your neighbor as yourself". This includes the ways that we often forget to love ourselves, as we tend to do when it comes to hardship and emotional validation. So, whatever side of the scenario you're on, remember the response is the same, and stays consistent when extending this love and support towards yourself or to somebody else.
The way we treat others should be a mirror reflection of the way we treat ourselves. For some reason, many of us find it much easier to be kind to others than to ourselves, but we must remember something: this lack of self-love and support is not heroic. It is a display that makes others' belief in themselves and their ability to love all parts of themselves all the more difficult. We must be leaders by example. If you are to talk the talk, you must walk the walk.
Trust me, I'm just as much speaking to myself as I am to anyone who may be reading this. Don't be afraid to call yourself out. It's OKAY to have some parts of your life that don't completely feel full or aligned. This is the beauty of growth, forgiveness, and God's love. The pivotal point that matters most and determines your next season is the way that you respond to these incongruent parts of yourself. Are you willing to own up to them? Owning these parts and moving towards growing from them is the only way forward. It's the only way to break the unhelpful emotional cycles in your life. An amazing friend reminded me recently that, as Dr. M Scott Peck once wrote in his book "The Road Less Traveled", life is happening for you, not to you.
Lean in...lean in for yourself...lean in for somebody else.