Not long ago I heard someone speaking to a group of at-risk youth. The speaker had herself grown up in a residential care setting, but had since graduated from college and was now getting ready to launch into the mission field.
As an introduction, the speaker shared how, upon going off to a large state university, she had encountered many students her age, most of whom had grown up in traditional two-parent families. The speaker shared how one of these fellow freshmen had been lamenting one time about a very traumatic point in her life – the year she hadn’t made the drill team.
The speaker and her audience laughed it off with a good strong sense of “you call that a trauma!?” Making light of a relatively easy life was smooth, sure entre to claim the attention of the listening youth.
At the time this all made sense to me. I knew this group of youth, and every one of them had the kind of life story that would make getting cut from the drill team like a walk in the park.
I have been re-thinking this recently. I don’t think it is a good idea to discount anyone’s experience.
During my seminary years we would made a list of things NOT to say in a pastoral counseling situation. At the top of the list was always “Oh, you think YOU’VE got problems?”
We all know people who have had easy lives compared to ours. We also all know people who resilience amazes us.
What we don’t always recognize is that everyone has plenty of their own stuff. And no one deserves to have their stuff discounted.