Choose Your Hard

We all know someone who thinks they have it worse than everyone else. The complainer. Maybe it’s a friend of ours, or a coworker, or a relative, or (yikes) maybe it’s us. The negative Nancy, the person who always has an ache or a pain to whine about, the person who never sees the glass half full, the person who picks out the one storm cloud in an otherwise clear sky.

I have a friend, who I actually really do happen to like, but every time we talk she complains about her husband, her health, her kids, her job, her in-laws, her parents, her life. Literally nothing ever seems to be going right for her. To be fair, she doesn’t have it easy.

Then again, does anyone have it easy?

I found myself falling into a similar trap recently. A bad mood turned into a bad day which turned into a bad week, which turned into a bad month. It starts with the little things – the middle of the night waking to feed a fussy baby, which means I wake up tired. Then, the dog wakes the baby up during her morning nap. There’s a detour on the way to work, which makes me late. A coworker annoys me. I come home and the kitchen is a mess. It’s all so wearisome. So, I snap at my husband. He takes the brunt of it. Then I send my mom a whiny text about how tired I am.

Woe is me.

I never have a moment to myself. The house is always messy. My husband doesn’t do enough to help me. My boss expects too much from me. The baby is teething and cranky. I’m so exhausted. I still haven’t lost the baby weight. My neck hurts from sleeping on it wrong.

All I could do was focus on the negative, and, this went on for a few weeks. I kind of wallowed in it.

Until I realized, I didn’t like the person I had been lately. I could feel the frustration and the anger and the resentment building up in me…But, the truth was, it was nobody’s fault but mine. I was allowing myself to play the victim.

It’s easy to do. That stuff, “the small stuff”, can drive you crazy. All the little irritations, they can build up and turn you into that person, the one who always complains. The one who never has anything positive to say.

And it was me the last few weeks.

Sometimes, you need to vent. You do. Everyone does. Bad moods will happen, but I had been wallowing in mine for weeks. I had been venting for weeks. Grumbling, cursing under my breath, angry at everyone. It’s easy to convince yourself that you have it worse than the people around you. And that is just not true.

Maybe that’s obvious to you, but to me I don’t think it was so glaringly obvious. I think I needed to remember that life is just not easy for anyone.

My single friends want to be married. Some of my married friend want to be single. Some of my married friends want kids and can’t have them. Some of my friends with kids long for some alone time (hi, I’m one of those people). Raising kids can be exhausting. Being single can be lonely. Being married can be challenging.

Infertility. Cancer. Mental health struggles. Financial woes. Poor health. Chronic fatigue. Sleepless nights. Divorce. Breakups. Heartache.

Life. Is. Not. Easy.

I think back on the days when my anxiety was so bad I could barely leave the house. It was a struggle to get out of bed some days. Now, I have a baby and a full-time job, and my husband is running multiple businesses out of our home, and life is crazy. I don’t struggle with debilitating anxiety the way I once did, but life is still challenging, still wearisome, just in a different way.

It’s ok to admit when things are hard. You don’t have to be a martyr and suffer silently, but I think, for me, it was important to remember the mental health struggles I once had and to recognize, that everyone has their own version of hard.

There’s no perfect life, and if it feels perfect now, the sad truth is it won’t stay like that. I think somewhere along the line we all began to believe that life was supposed to be easy, but the truth is the world doesn’t owe us that. God doesn’t owe us anything. I don’t know where we get off thinking we are entitled to smooth sailing.

There will be difficulties. That’s the nature of this life we live. There will also be joy and beauty and peace and contentment. Thank God for that. Thank God for the moments you are grateful to be alive.

Last night, driving home from my parent’s house, with my baby sleeping peacefully in the back seat, music playing softly across the radio, I saw the most spectacular sunset. Most of it was blocked by houses and buildings and trees, but you still couldn’t miss it. The whole sky was painted orange and pink and blue, casting this ethereal light across the landscape. I knew the moment wouldn’t last forever, but I was so grateful to have experienced it at all.

Sometimes life is easy and sometimes it isn’t. When it is, count your blessings. When it isn’t, count your blessings. There are different “hards” we could all be living, and we’d be naïve to think we have it worse than anybody else.

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