We’re All in the Same Boat

I had dinner with some friends tonight, and through conversation about professional life, relationships, and myriad other things that kept us at our table about an hour after we’d paid the bill, some insight emerged that I found helpful and comforting.  So I thought I’d share.

Much too often, I quietly compare myself with other people, often arbitrary comparisons that I know better than to indulge, but judgments that sneak up on me when I’m starting to get down about something.  Now the basis of this blog is sharing stories and thoughts from someone (me) in a different situation than most people, at least most people I am acquainted with.  I understand for sure that I am not the only young married mom in New York.  But I do happen to be the only one that I know.  And while I aspire to always see the blessings in what’s happening in my life right now, sometimes I feel like the odd (wo)man out.  From the start, I knew that being married and starting a family before most of my friends did would be difficult, but I have also been confident that these decisions have been right for me—and with the joyful and loving support of family and friends, I might add.

Still, though, there are moments, often when I’m frustrated about something else, that I feel lonely, scared, and doubtful about where I am and where I’m going.  In these times, I try to turn to prayer, to a greater hope for greater love and trust, but that can be a really difficult thing to do, and prayer is not always answered with instant comfort.  It is, however, always met with an opportunity for growth, both in relationship with God and with one another.

Tonight, I recognized in a more tangible way that most everyone—whether married or single; employed or unemployed; twenty, forty, or sixty; striving for a big dream or struggling to find a purpose—sometimes gets lonely, scared, and doubtful.  These feelings are natural (even the saints experienced them!), and cannot be a gauge of our worth.  How we deal with that part of our nature is the real measure of who we are, what’s truly important to us, and what we put our faith in.

The details of our lives make it seem like we’re all setting sail for separate shores and the independence and go-get-‘em attitude so many of us have been taught lead us to believe that we’re on our own in this world.  And to some extent, we are.  But what’s fascinating to me about human nature, about conversation, about literature, is the many nearly identical situations we often find ourselves in.  It may seem like we each have our own separate ship, but really, we’re all in the same boat.

I know this isn’t everything I need to know to reconcile the tough feelings I have at times (and I know the boat references went overboard—excuse the pun—in that last paragraph), but it is a comfort to remember that sometimes, feeling alone means feeling alone just like everyone else. There is some hope buried in there, and I think that makes it just a little bit easier to be grateful for the lives that we have.

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