Throughout my life's education, one of the biggest concepts that always resonated with me has been how one size just doesn't ever fit all. We don't learn at the same rates, we don't grow at the same rates, and a cure for one might be poison for another. As a young mother, that was always evident when babies are starting to talk and walk. We act as though it's a race or a competition, but it's really not. This year has given us a concentrated dose of other people's lives (while ironically being cut off directly) and too often we still aren't getting the message that we're all different. Many celebrating holidays this week and are coming from entirely different places emotionally. We should never buy into the idea that everyone needs to (or has to) experience it the same way.
I have loved ones who have suffered great tragic losses this year. There are friends who have gone through massive changes in their lives. I also know those who are suffering financially. Some families and relationships have experienced beautiful healing and growth this year. There are those who are simply sick themselves. Some of us are struggling with anxiety and depression. New babies, sad divorces, exciting marriages, new homes, job changes, and great losses. All of these and more have happened all around us this year.
My little brother and his beautiful family moved back to our area after spending their whole married life out of state. The past several days I've gotten to spend time with my niece and nephews that I've not really every been able to before and it has been wonderful! There were moments yesterday when I started to feel guilty for my joy simply because I know others who struggled to enjoy the days because of personal loss or struggles. I know it is right to be content and joyful with my circumstances when it arises, but I have to admit the pit of guilt I had to fight off just the same. As I thought about that, I realized how often we strive for others to experience the world like we are, but usually fail miserably. The loss anyone is feeling right now needs to be honored by those that feel it most. The joy of reunion and family needs to be celebrated by those that feel it most. Our lot of celebration or mourning will undoubtedly change from what it is today so there is no need to force it somewhere it doesn't belong. We will all celebrate and we will all mourn in due time.
As we live in a free country that recognizes our freedom to live a quiet and peaceful life as suits our needs, we should honor those in our life with a similar respect to engage the world as they need to. When we start expecting everyone to adhere the same way in holidays, in circumstances or just feeling the way we feel, we are trying to argue with the beautiful design of man. We are made in the image of God, but as we see the complex differences between one person to the next, it is clear His image manifests itself in a variety of ways at a variety of times.
If you're mourning, honor it with everything you have. If you are celebrating, do not let it go without great joy. If you are growing, lean in to it to get where you are going. If you are broken and struggling, honor it and let others lift you up. I would never expect an essay out of my 3 year old the way I might with my 10 year old. Even two 10 year old kids side by side can't be expected to know/perform/think the same. Let's quit treating each other with such ignorance, but far more mercy and support. So, as you are closing out this perpetual circus of a year, feel what you feel, but give those around you that same privilege. We are not all in this together in the same way and that has to be understood and it has to be okay.