You Don’t Know Jack (and Neither do I)

355404692_96e3250881_oThis is going to start off sounding like an arrogant, self-centered rant, but bear with me. 🙂  Let me just preface this post by saying that it does not reference anyone in particular.  Any similarity to any person, fiction or non-fiction, is merely coincidental.  If you’ve read through the blog the last couple of weeks, you’re probably starting to get the idea that in my younger years, I’d been through the wringer in a big way.  I dealt with my parents divorce and the subsequent poverty that it led to, with being seriously abused by a former boyfriend for a number of years, and with 7 years of clinical Depression.  I have SO much more that I could share with you; seriously, I would write a book if I didn’t think it would devastate my parents and family, who know very little about the pain and torture I suffered during my younger years.

Because of this, I have a sometimes struggle with a certain, well, disdain for people who grew up  in a “cushy” environment and subsequently, because of their education, their money or because they’ve made the “big move” of leaving their parents’ houses and manage to pay the rent on time, think they know it all.   Being successful with limited struggle is just not impressive, my arrogant friends.  You may have a big income or a plush savings account, you may have made it “big” in your eyes, but that doesn’t mean you don’t know Jack Sh*t about the world or what the hell you’re talking about.

You might think you’ve “struggled” because mommy and daddy don’t support your arse anymore and you can’t buy what you want, when you want.  Or you think your parents are idiots because they have beliefs that are different than yours and you are obviously more “educated” and “worldly” than your “sadly misinformed” parents who haven’t been where you’ve been or done what you’ve done.

Well, let me tell you something, my friend, you don’t know jack.  Regardless of what you think about those who haven’t achieved success the way you measure success, age and experience count for A LOT more than your world travels, your income or your bank account numbers.   I used to think I knew it all too.  I grew up in the streets of neighborhoods you wouldn’t dare set your foot in and went face-to-face with drug dealers and prostitutes and gang members on a regular basis.  I’ve sat in my living room watching TV while the cops used our house as a stakeout house for the drug-running operation across the street. I’ve had guns held to my head and been through all kinds of other hells that would make you bawl like a friggin’ baby.  I’ve sat in my home with my siblings and mom without one morsel of food in the cupboard.  NOT ONE MORSEL.   We had no heat in the middle of a cold northern winter.  I’ve been chased through the woods at midnight by a would-be-murdered whose only goal was to take my life.  Want more?  I’ve got more.  But I’m not sure you could handle hearing about it.  You think you know sh*t: you have no friggin’ clue, my friend, about the real life that many, many people live outside of your wonderland of opportunity.

And neither do I.

I have no clue about what it’s like to have to walk 10 miles to get clean, fresh water that won’t kill me or my kids.  I can’t imagine living a life where starvation is a real and daily possibility.  In third world countries, there are no food shelves, no welfare system, and what food is flown in by us big shots in the Western world is often confiscated and used as bait and blackmail so that parents will hand over their children to be used as sex slaves in order to feed what children they have left.  I have no clue what it’s like to hide and pray daily that I might escape the constant gunfire and bomb blasts of my war-torn country.   Or what it’s like to live in such filth and desperation that my children and I have no qualms about digging through the garbage on a daily basis to find our “meals”.  Or to deal with horrible diseases of every nature that, although they’re no big deal here because of our advanced and wonderful medical care (which people seem to find all kinds of time to complain about) are deadly to people in third world countries.  The older I get, and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know about sacrifice and struggle.

To those people being described here, I love ya, but it’s time to friggin’ get a clue.  It’s time to stop being arrogant about what you have and what you’ve done, and to start being grateful.  You wouldn’t be where you are today if it weren’t for your parents.  For better or for worse, you’re in this world because of them, and they did their very best with you, even if they were dealing with their own demons along the way.  Just be glad that you were fed and kept warm every night, and get over the rest.  Stop feeling sorry for yourself, stop wallowing in self-focus and arrogance, and start seeing your life for what it truly is: blessed.  And never forget that, compared to the rest of the world, you’ve got it pretty damn good.

**If you still love me, go ahead and read part two of this “rant” by clicking here.

51 comments

  1. Kirsten says:

    I’m never going to stop wanting to stay home and I know it’s a pretty affluent thing to want. I’m going to blog about it to keep me focused. But you are so right. There are bigger problems in the world than mine. There are people who need more help than me. There are people who are sacrificing every minute because they don’t have any other choice. And I thank you for reminding me to have some perspective.

    • Laurie says:

      Kristen, I think it’s SO awesome that you are working so hard to be home with your babies. Yes, you are blessed to have that job, but don’t ever give up on your dream. Those desires were put there by God and He is showing you the way to get there. Hang in there and get it done, my friend. 🙂

  2. Kathy says:

    I’m 61 years old and I definitely feel that my generation started the downhill slide of this country. Our parents worked hard and sacrificed to give us all college educations and we repaid them by rejecting every moral and social value they held dear. Many of us became hippies, turning to drugs and rampant sex. Starting with Kennedy, many of us voted for a man because he was handsome, or cool instead of their leadership abilities. And we’ve raised each successive generation to be more shallow and entitled than we were. I’m afraid I don’t have a very good outlook for the future of this country and it truly makes me sad.

    • Laurie says:

      Kath, interesting to hear you say that, as Rick and I work lots to diagnose where things went so wrong in this country. I’m with you: I fear for this country, but I do know that the prayers and efforts of those of us who’ve taken a good, hard look in the mirror will not go unnoticed. At least not by Whom matters most. Standing strong with you, my friend, for the return of the humility and teamwork that once was a major cornerstone to the success of America.

  3. I lived in Lesotho (a small country inside of South Africa) for a month during college and it was truly eye-opening. I feel so blessed to have been born in the United States. I think with a purpose of giving back in some way (whether in the US or internationally), you’ll feel so rewarded. I hope to accomplish this in my career.

    • Laurie says:

      We sponsored a child in Lesotho for many years, Natalie! I can’t imagine the wake up call one would get living in a country like that. I’m sure it gave you a true picture of what life is like for most in the world – thank you for sharing that story, Natalie. I hope to hear more about it one day.

  4. debs @ debt debs says:

    We only know our own circle of pain. For some it’s too much, for others they are grateful and sorrowful for those that bear more. Thanks for this great read. I worry a lot about the world, but we carry on, lest we become part of the problem if we’re not already.

  5. Being humble and grateful are traits that many people fail to have today. If a parents don’t led by example how will their children learn? It becomes a bad cycle, passed on over and over. As I read more about your journey its clear we can overcome just about anything and succeeded if we want to.

  6. Spot on Laurie, that’s about all I can say. 🙂 It can be so easy to get self-focused and think that you’re experiencing the worst anyone ever could. I know we can all be guilty of that at times. But, there is so much going on in this world that would make 99.999% of us mess ourselves in a heartbeat – especially in today’s society.

    • Laurie says:

      “that would make 99.999% of us mess ourselves in a heartbeat”. John – way to say it. In spite of all of our struggles, we are indeed blessed.

  7. Even Steven says:

    I’m going to stick with the positive of this and you are right we need to be more grateful for what we have and who we have around us, thank you for your post.

  8. Brit says:

    Sometime we wrap ourselves in a bubble and in a idea that we are the center of everything. We get too materialistic and arrogant as well. We feel we are the best because we have it all, but are we? We forget what is important. I love this post because we do forget what is important and forget to be grateful for what we have. Many countries around the world don’t have what we have. Yet are grateful for what little they have.
    Each day I have to remind myself to be grateful and count my blessings because I am living the life I set for myself. I might not have the material, the bank account, but I have what I need and that’s what counts.
    Thank you, Laurie.

  9. I remember before during my younger years, I really wanted to buy one expensive toy but my father refused it. It hurts me so badly because I know they can afford it. One day when we were going to the church, I saw some street children, their clothes was ripped, they were so dirty and they were looking for a food in the garbage can! When I looked at my father, I knew he wanted to tell me something but he didn’t even say a single word, it was truly an eye opener to me.

    • Laurie says:

      Clarisse, this is exactly what I’m talking about, and I’m so glad you had that eye opener. I’m sure it’s helped shape the wonderful person that you are today, Clarisse.

  10. Michelle says:

    Love this post. I occasionally get down whenever I think about the things I’ve been through in the past, but then I always have to give myself a reality check and think about how much worse other people have it. The bad things in my past that have happened to me shaped me into the person I am today.

    • Laurie says:

      Michelle, I think we all need that reality check. It’s so easy (and I do it myself) to get caught up in that world of self-pity and not seeing our blessings in the midst of the garbage, isn’t it?

  11. Wow Laurie…for some reason I have no witty or humorous comment to make on this hard-hitting but oh so human post!

    All I can say is that I am glad – after all the shit you went through in your younger days – that you are here with us. The world is better off with you in it than not!!

    Oh…and you should definitely write that book! Your family will just need to deal!

    Take care and have a gang free, drug dealer free, prostitute free, murderer chasing free weekend!! Sorry, but I had to say something somewhat positive 🙂

    My best to all.

    Lyle

  12. Amy says:

    Great reminder about how lucky we all are, and that suffering is truly relative. But I also wouldn’t say that someone who’s going through their first really difficult experience in their lives isn’t entitled to their feelings. (I can’t help it; it’s the social worker in me!) But, yes, it’s very important to maintain perspective and be grateful for all teh good i our lives.

    • Laurie says:

      Funny. 🙂 I think absolutely we’re entitled to our feelings, but then I also think we need to work to keep a healthy perspective. I find that it’s really easy for me to freak out because I have this huge to-do list, for instance, and let it really get me down, and then I remember how very lucky I am to have the physical ability to do the things I do and a family to do them for.

  13. Amen!!! None of us is more superior than the other and we all have different backgrounds that give us the perspectives that we have, but we all need to have perspective, compassion and humility. I can’t stand anyone who thinks they know it all and has it all figured out. It just means that they are not paying attention and trying to learn anything from this life that we are given.

  14. Yes many of us have “first world” problems and they are problems in relation to the live we live. But some really don’t appreciate how fortunate they truly are in relation not only the rest of the world but sometimes their own neighbours! I also dislike the terminology first world, third world…we all live in the same world yet worlds apart! I was a really spoiled and self-centered person for far too long until I spent some time in Africa. It wasn’t just the desolation, starvation and poverty that affected me, but it was witnessing the joy and pleasure that many derived in the simplest of actions. Seeing children run barefoot in the dirt and laughing their heads off made me stop to consider that my version of happiness based on how much I owned was completely flawed. Thanks for keeping it real around here Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      Kassandra, you are so right about the joy and appreciation people in those countries have for the simple things in life. I cannot at all see you being spoiled and self-centered, but I’m sure glad to know you now, because I think you’re a blessing to so many.

  15. Nicola says:

    I love this post. It’s so easy to got bogged down by things we don’t have or jealous of other people, but those in the western world have it so easy in comparison. Thanks for the reality check 🙂

  16. Sorry if this is a duplicate comment, I couldn’t see if my last one went through…

    But thank you so much for this post. I’m really susceptible to arrogance and to being a know-it-all. I appreciate the reminder to just be humble.

  17. We do take much for granted that is for sure.

    I’d encourage you to write that book Laurie. Not necessarily for publication…just for you. Sounds like you’ve been through a lot and reliving that by putting pen to paper may be the best cathartic experience you’ve ever had. My sister did this several years ago about experiences she had growing up, in college and in grad school that really affected here. Although the book was a shock to myself and my parents who read it, it a) helped us understand her more and b) helped her heal and move past it. Just some food for thought.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Brian! I appreciate your support. I feel so very grateful that through Him, I’ve been healed of pretty much all of that stuff. I by and large never remember it anymore, except when He guides me to write a post such as the one above. It really seems like it was someone else living that life, and for that I am so grateful.

  18. I understand where you’re coming from. I work with a Christian organization that takes children out of slums in India and puts them in Christian schools (in India). Sometimes when I get tired of saving money and scrimping and saving, I look at the faces of these children who saw their parents kill each other or who were rescued from prostitution or who begged in the train stations. Even after all that they have beautiful smiles on their faces and are optimistic and so thankful. Makes me a little ashamed for my complaints.

    • Laurie says:

      I can totally identify, Deb!! We have so, so much to be grateful for, don’t we. The organization you work with sounds wonderful – God bless you for being involved.

  19. I have never sensed that you felt disdain for people who had it fairly easy. As someone who has definitely had it pretty easy when I consider what you’ve been through and when I consider the suffering of West Africa in the face of Ebola, I can promise you that there is real suffering on the part of the “lucky” too. We have to recognize the greater trials of others, and we have to take ownership of self-inflicted struggles (like personal debt), but we also have to give ourselves permission to acknowledge our pain and to heal without guilt. If we don’t, we shut ourselves off from the healing power of God because we don’t allow ourselves to need it. And we stunt our own ability to extend grace to others. You don’t strike me as being too shut off or stunted, so I’m guessing this disdain doesn’t rear its head too often.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Prudence, and I completely agree! Don’t worry, I have a follow up post tomorrow explaining all of this. 🙂 But at the same time, I think it does help us to heal when observe others who have greater trials, because it helps us to be thankful.

  20. I love this! You are so right. So many of us haven’t experienced 1% of the horrible atrocities in the world. I am starting to realize practicing gratitude over complaining is so powerful and helps me give more. Thanks for keeping people in check 😉

  21. Charles says:

    It’s very easy to think we have it tough when so many others have had it worse. At times I tend to forget and can be arrogant or less compassionate. We born with nothing and we all leave with nothing. Great post Laurie.

    • Laurie says:

      Thanks, Charles. It is so easy for us to forget how blessed we are. And I get that, but I do think that when we work hard to keep a big-world perspective, it allows us to see beyond our own situation and realize just how blessed we are.

  22. Kim says:

    We are all very lucky just because of where we were born in most cases. Even the person in the absolute worst case scenario born in the US has a chance and ways to find help if he or she is truly willing to try. I know we take it for granted way too often.

  23. When things go bad for me, I always try to think that indeed there are people who have bigger problems, daily problems. My grandmother experienced the second World War and actually a bomb fell exactly where our house is now… and her stories are of true nightmare. They had no clean water, they had no refrigerators and so on. Even though I consider myself a person that managed to make it on his own, it’s true that if I were alone and it wasn’t for my parents, things would’ve been different today.

    • Laurie says:

      Oh my gosh, I cannot even imagine, nor do I want to. This is exactly what I’m talking about, C. The fear your grandmother must’ve experienced had to have been horrendous, and we are so lucky to not have had to deal with that stuff.

  24. You’re right! We don’t know jack! We are so blessed simply to have a roof over our head. The world is such a big place. I am so grateful you were able to grow up the way you did and not play the blame game. You have something in you that can relate to others on a level many of us can’t. My hubby is the same way. He can identify with kids in a way no one else can because of experience. He has earned the right to say, ‘look where I came from, look where I am now, you can do it too’.

    • Laurie says:

      My hubby went through some similar icky stuff too, Jayleen. Different than mine, but bad nonetheless. SO proud of our guys for bucking up, dealing, and moving on.

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