One of the things I love most about Frit is that even though she has every reason to judge me and my pathetic, as of late, state of living–she doesn’t. I mean, she’s seen everything these last couple years–the days I don’t brush my teeth, the days I don’t get out of my pajamas, the days I can’t list even one productive thing I’ve done–and yet, she doesn’t judge. She just loves. Oh and she laughs. (Yes, at me, if you really must know.) Because sometimes this whole thing really is ridiculous.
Aaand I love her because even though she is older than me, she never makes me feel like she knows everything simply because she’s already been through it.
I hate it when people think that just because they’ve experienced something similar to you, or because they’re older than you, that that somehow gives them an understanding of who you are and what you’re going through. Or that they have the answers for your situation.
Yes. Perspective comes with age. I won’t discount that. Nor will I discount the notion that we all experience certain things to give us the wisdom to help others. I think we all have a built-in desire to help another soul. And I’ll be the first to sign up for a ladies night jam session where the talk is deep and the stories of life string together from one person to the next like telephone lines on a long Texas highway. I also very much appreciate the occasional, “hey, read this.” or “have you ever listened to this?” or “p.s. been thinkin bout you.” (In fact, just yesterday my dear friend Katie sent this, and this, to me. Love love love.)
But hurt is hurt. And grief is grief. And loneliness is loneliness.
And no matter what age or stage of life you’re in when you experience it, it sucks. And just because you’ve been in it deeper or longer or went through it first doesn’t give you a special badge of honor, nor does it negate what another person is feeling and experiencing.
I remember talking to my sister a couple years ago. She’s eight years younger and is engaged to be married this summer, but at the time she had just come out of a really heart-shattering breakup. And she was crying–crying about how lonely she was and how badly she wanted to be married. And then she looked up, almost with a tinge of apologetic guilt and remorse in her eyes, because, “who was [she] to be crying about this to [me].” I’d been “doing single” for eight years longer than her.
But instead of saying, “Yeah that’s right. Come cry to me when you’re still 30 and single,” and instead of piling all my advice and lessons learned on top of her sad-little heart right then (I did offer a few thoughts later, though she never actually read them and I think were more for me than they were for her anyway)–but at that moment I was reminded of Frit and a very similar scene a few years prior where I’d cried to her, my best friend six years my senior, about how lonely I was, and how much I hated dating and how much I wanted to “just be married already.” And I think I looked at her with a look quite similar to my sister’s when I realized who I was whining to. But she just looked at me and hugged me and told me to just cry … to just “let it all out. It hurts no matter what age or how long you’ve been at it.”
And so, I looked at my sister, and her teary eyes, and told her the same thing. Because. Frit was right. Just because I was older, and just because I had already been through the sadness she was feeling, and just because I’d felt it longer–it didn’t somehow make her hurt less real or even less important.
I fancy myself a smart person. I like to tell people what to do. I’m quick to make decisions and I always have an opinion handy. I also generally give awesome advice and counsel. (True story.)
I have learned. That the life experience for each individual is so intensely unique. No one else has my answers, or your answers for how to deal, how to overcome, or how to thrive. Only you and God really know. And the majority of time people don’t even need answers anyway. They just need support. A shoulder to lean, or cry, on. A hand to hold. An ear to listen. And love. Genuine, honest, sincere, simple, from deep in your gut love.