Let me take you back to your childhood, the days of fairy tales.
Remember the story of The Princess and the Pea? Maybe like me, you remember it as told by "Kermit the Frog" reporting. While the details change in the retelling, the basic story goes like this. In an effort to determine if a young girl is a real princess, so that she is suitable for the young prince to marry, a bed is prepared for her as a test. The bed has many mattresses. And a secret. Underneath the mattresses is a single pea. If the girl is a true princess, she will be sensitive enough to notice the pea despite all the padding. Morning comes. The girl hasn't slept because there was something hard in her bed. She IS a real princess. Happy ending. All is well.
Only, let's think about it. Now that we have lived a little life and had our share of troubles. How do you see the princess now? I'm afraid she is now a joke. Someone who has had such a blissful and pampered life that the smallest difficulty is so troubling that she cannot sleep.
And let us consider another difficulty of similar size. A pebble. On the path in front of you it is nothing; inside of your shoe it is everything. It's about the same size as a pea, but few would argue that you were wrong to be troubled by it. It would bother most anyone. Of course it is a problem.
So how often do we confuse the two? I think that sometimes I'm the princess. Things have been going well and the smallest thing ruins my perfect picture so it becomes a big deal. Other times I am so involved with everything else that I try to ignore the pebble in my shoe. It just doesn't seem like that big of a deal. But it does take its toll.
Sometimes the pebble is an easy problem. I take off my shoe, dump it out, put my shoe back on, and am back on my way.
Othertimes the pebble is disaster. It was the thing that pushed me over the edge. I sit down, take off my shoe, throw it, curse it, and cry.
I would like to be better at discerning between pebbles and peas in my life. And since I have difficulty with my own problems it would stand to reason that I would have even more trouble judging someone else's.
I will try to remember this the next time I see someone I think is a princess wallowing over a pea. Maybe it was really a pebble in her shoe and she has been walking with it a very long time.