A couple of days ago a friend was telling me about a surgical procedure his son had gone through a few days before. Although the surgery is intricate and quite extensive, it has pretty much become a standard procedure, thanks to advances in surgical technology. His son came through the operation fine, but it was a MAJOR undertaking.
Prior to making the decision to have the surgery, he had asked for my advice because my son had had the same procedure a few years ago. When he asked, I sensed the same apprehension I felt when trying to determine whether or not to subject my son to the same op. (As it turned out, according to all of the experts, there was no other option. Without getting into too much detail, both boys are wheelchair bound, and, in order to keep them from becoming "deformed"--the doctor's words--and having their bodies cave in on them and crush their internal organs, the surgery had to be performed.)
As he gave me the details of his son's procedure and his post-op experience, he got kind of choked up. He told me all about the intubation/extubation, the swelling, the cries for help, the blood loss. I just listened. My mind wandered off to my son's surgical experience. Hearing my friend's story helped me to understand things just a little bit more.
I see now that the empathy I feel for him, and his situation, is purposeful, relational and specific. Sometimes I complain about my life being too hard. Shoot, sometimes it is! But, being able to identify with and help someone whose situation is similar to mine is the antidote to just about any woe I may ever have.
In the end, all things do work together for the common good. Hang in there! Even though all that we are is a culmination of genetics and experience, we are all wonderfully made. Share your beauty. Even if it's just a listening ear. Sometimes that's all someone needs to make their day a little better.