Posted by on Sep 4, 2013 in Blog, Ship Life |

Something you learn when living in a community comprised of over 400 hardworking volunteers: don’t get into pissing matches. Specifically over how tired you are, and why.

The other day I got up at 4am to go out on a dental screening as security – and ideally to handle any media, should they show up. Not very many people knew this. Even I was surprised to find out about it on Saturday morning.

In reality, this lesson isn’t about competing with people so much as it is complaining. If you aren’t careful, you might complain to someone like me that you had to get up 15 minutes early because the only laundry slot you could get was at 8am. Should you whine loudly enough, and with enough conviction that you are, in fact, owed that 15 minutes of sleep, someone like me might jump into the conversation.

“7:45, huh?” We might say. “Rough.” This is usually followed up with a short sentence explaining how our morning was hijacked by a pre-dawn scheduling bandit.

early-morning-dental-screening-mercy-ships

The thing is, even I shouldn’t complain in this situation. Why?

Because there is always someone who has it worse off than I do.

Example given: my friend who got up at 3:30am to continue working on a sewage pump that had overloaded and ceased to function. He got up a full thirty minutes earlier than I did to shove his hands into a clogged sewage pump. Just so my toilet would flush. And he didn’t complain.

Lesson 1: I could have it worse.

What’s more important is to remember that we’re all working hard. At any given point, most of us are behind on sleep, and often there aren’t a lot of “Thanks” thrown around (as glamorous as it may look through the lens of a TV camera). What I learned the last time I lived on board was that it didn’t matter if I was having a rough time, I wasn’t alone. What was more important than focusing on my own miserable situation was to turn around and try to bless others who were struggling.

late-night-screening-mercy-ships

Lesson 2: Forget your own problems and focus on making someone else’s better.

Obviously, if your leg is on fire you should take care of that immediately. But once things are stable, take that misery and forget it.

The best way to forget your own suffering is to lighten that of someone else. You don’t always expect this. At least I don’t. When my friends gave me their couch to nap on this weekend, scratched my back, and made fun of me when they thought I was sleeping, they made my burden lighter. They didn’t cure my problems, but they shared the load.

Lesson 3: We’re all in this together.

Let’s take the time to bless each other. If someone’s complaining, do your best to help ease their burden in that moment. If  you find yourself complaining, start looking for someone who needs a back scratching worse than you do. Should we all start looking to share the burdens of those around us instead of moaning about our own, I dare say we might find ourselves living in a much better place than we’d ever anticipated.

What are some other ways you could come alongside someone and make their day a little brighter?