Why Do We Compare Our Stories?

Getting real about our struggles (even if another’s pain seems “worse”)
Why Do We Compare Our Stories?
Image: DRAGON IMAGES / SHUTTERSTOCK

I was at the end of my rope. My husband had been out of town for three days already and his trip was only half over. We were smack in the middle of a busy few months of work trips for him, leaving me home alone with twin toddlers (while pregnant with another baby) most days of the week. So I opened up about my exhaustion and discouragement to a friend one night. She knew our situation and was eager to listen to my outburst of discouragement. But as the words spilled out, I paused and blurted out: “I know I shouldn’t really be talking about my situation after we heard how tough Katie’s life is right now.”

Though my pain was real, in comparison to Katie’s (not her real name), my difficulties seemed rather small. After years of infertility, she faced another difficult pregnancy only to be faced with the realization that the child she now carried would never live a normal life. We were pregnant at the same time; my baby was healthy while hers was not. And even though I knew my situation with my husband’s travel was hard, it just seemed so trivial compared to the suffering she faced—and would continue to face.

“You don’t need a caveat when you talk about your struggles, Courtney,” my friend said. She reminded me that my story matters—and so does our hurting friend’s.

I’m not the first person who has faced this dilemma. Maybe you have too. You hear of a friend’s suffering and hold back on sharing your own prayer request because you don’t want to come across as calloused or complaining when your difficulty seems so small in comparison. There is so much worse suffering out there, right?

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May 25

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