With the busy pace of life we often forget that we are not the only person on the planet.  Now, we would never say that we feel like the only person alive, or the only person that really matters, but often we live like it.

We spend so much time dealing with our own issues that we begin to believe no one has it quite as bad as us.  We know, at least intellectually, that others do struggle. We just do not believe the struggles  of others are of the same magnitude as ours.  We all have the amazing ability to convince ourselves that others have advantages that we do not.  Our hours are longer, our family life harder, our finances less or our past more severe.  And we come to these conclusions without any real knowledge of what others are going through.

Since no one really understands just how difficult it is to be us, we tell them.  “Others always think that they have it so bad so I must be sure to let them know that it is me, not them, that REALLY has a hard road,” we say to ourselves. We live and we act and we talk like we are the only ones that really “get it.”

And while we allow ourselves to be consumed with us, we miss the fact that there are people all around that need someone to care.  Unlike us they will never speak up or act out or pine for attention.  They will just live their lives broken and hurting without someone to help them put the pieces back together.  Their problems are real, we just refuse to notice.

Why don’t we decide to stop marginalizing the challenges and hurt of those around us and instead reach out and help them come through on the other side better.  The greatest joy one can have is making a difference in the life of someone else.  It is amazing how our own struggles begin to fade when we change our focus from “us” to “them.”

Jeremy Stalnecker is the Executive Director of the Mighty Oaks Foundation which is dedicated to helping America’s military warriors and their families who are suffering from the unseen wounds of combat. While growing up Jeremy’s only goal was to leave home and join the Marine Corps. This dream was finally realized with an active duty commission in 1999 which opened the door to serve as a Marine Infantry Officer during the opening days of the war in Iraq. One month after returning from Iraq, Jeremy entered full-time ministry and eventually accepted a senior pastor role. He later accepted a full-time position with the Mighty Oaks Foundation which brought together his ministry and military experience in a way that allows him to minister to hurting veterans, service members and their families. Along with his wife and their four children, Jeremy works to reach the hurting and provide healing found in Christ.

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