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I have a class with a young woman (who I will keep anonymous) that is going through a really tough time right now. I don’t know all of the details, but her dad has been battling an illness for quite some time now and he isn’t getting better. Through the course of this semester he has been in and out of the hospital. Anyone who has been in a similar situation would be able to understand the strain that is put on a family going through what her family is going through. I would also add that, although there is never a good time to deal with physical pain, it is especially difficult to deal with it while you are in college. Not only does homework and class time add to the emotional tension, but being away from your family, who is an anchor of sorts, can add confusion. Fathers are a source of comfort and love for many of us; someone we can go to in our most vulnerable times. Through the pain though, God provides us with people to helps us stand. Perhaps one of the biggest blessings that God has given us is the ability to have a web of interpersonal relationships. We have this insane ability to connect and love and care for other people. And further we have the ability to identify with others. Isn’t it crazy how our own experiences, the lovely and the painful, can be used to encourage the ones we love? Like I said before, I haven’t always been the best driver, and when I took the test to get my license I made one crucial mistake that disqualified me. I was so distraught. I had told so many people to pray for me, and when I failed I just knew that each and everyone of them would ask me about it. What would my brothers say? I would never live this down. This last year a good friend of mine failed their drivers test, and I could just tell that they didn’t want to talk about it at all, so I didn’t say anything. Of course, one of our other friends asked about it though, and guess what? I was so proud to say that I too had failed before. I was able to encourage him, because I had made the same mistakes. Needless to say, he was greatly relieved that he wasn’t the only person who had failed before. And once I opened up about my own failure others chimed in as well. Because of our own missteps we were able to help him carry the weight of embarrassment, so that he wasn’t alone. We were pulled together as a group, unified by our humanity.

I can’t completely identify with what my classmate is going through, I’ve never lost a parent, but I can identify with the struggle. And what a gift that is! I can’t say that I am always glad for the pain that I have gone through or the pain that I have watched others go through, but it is such a blessing to feel the pain of others and be able to stand by them through the fight.