It sometimes seems like it’s the predominant characteristic of our lives.

And, even when your own life isn’t full to the brim overflowing with hardship or disappointment, you still have people you know, love, care about, meet on the street, whose lives are slopping over the sides with struggle and hard and heavy.

You can personally be floating along in a relative calm, a ray of sunshine across your canoe, and you just bump your oar right up against someone who has capsized, who is flailing around outside their canoe, clinging to their life jacket, head bobbing in the water next to you.

It happens All The Time.

It happened to me twice this very weekend.

A shared story.  A person approaching me and trusting me with their Vulnerable.  A group story and a piece of what their struggle tastes like.

Thus far, I respond the same.  When I hear these stories, when I get these glimpses, when I sit near their pain.

I hurt.

I mean, I for real physically feel a pressing burden.  Both of these are situations for people I don’t actually know.

But you don’t have to know someone to know what hurt feels like.  You don’t have to be a person’s friend to feel the weight of their struggle.

Oh goodness, you guys.

There are different kinds of happy and there are different kinds of hard and not one of us can entirely one hundred percent understand anyone else’s.

And even though I hate the hard and wish for a different story for myself or for my friends or for the people who stop me and offer me the tiniest bit of their broken, I am still somehow grateful, right in the middle of the sorrow, for the chance to not be alone in the lousy.  For the opportunity to reach out and physically touch a shoulder, hug a stranger, send an encouraging text and to put the littlest pause in the record that is playing on repeat in their brain of All That Is Not Right.

Oh, friends.

Do not be silent in your struggle.  
Do not face the worst alone.  

Even when your voice sounds like tin, use it.

Even when you think no one wants to hear, speak up.