I shuffled past the living room this morning with a basket of laundry on my hip and an empty coffee cup in my hand, on a mission to make laundry happen while all the Collie boys are out of the house capturing weddings or cheering for Pirates, when I was stopped dead in my tracks. My sweet little nearly-three-year-old was on the couch in the living room watching an episode of Diego, and the expression on her face was just about the saddest look I’ve ever seen on that little face, aside from her actually full-out crying about something.

Chirp, chirp, chirp…

I paused to listen to the TV, and a tiny cotton-top tamarin (think adorable little monkey) was singing a sad song about how he really missed his family. He’d been separated from his family, and he was inside a little cave, singing and listening to the echoes, because it made him feel like his little tamarin family and friends were with him.

Chirp, chirp, chirp… he sang, and chirp, chirp, chirp… came the echoes.

Once I realized everything was okay, I snapped a picture of her little face and carried on with my laundry mission, but I realized her little face was an answer to something I’d been thinking about all morning.

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I’m nearing the end of my fourth pregnancy, and most Mamas know that this is the part where things transition from moderately uncomfortable to dang this is hard. Some women have heartburn, some women find it nearly impossible to find a comfortable position to sleep in (and then get up six times a night to pee), some women feel like their bellies are about to split open from all the pressure. Stuff typically just starts to hurt, and even though labor is not an easy experience, you start praying it’ll come soon.

The really hard thing about arriving at this stage in pregnancy perhaps isn’t the discomfort itself — it’s that you’re this uncomfortable and you just have to keep going.

Unless you’ve been put on bed rest and are specifically told that you can’t do anything until your little one decides to make an appearance, you probably fall into the category of the majority of women who are hurting and just have to keep going. Because everyone still needs to eat, dishes and clothes still have to be washed, and children still need to go places.

But that situation that can feel so challenging for the pregnant lady? Truth is, the world is full of people who are hurting and just have to keep going.

Something recently reminded me of that fateful interaction with the guy at the bank who was brutally unkind to me when I had over 100 checks to deposit, paying my Dad’s medical bills. Afterwards, when I was in the car, trying to wipe away the tears, and a bank teller called to apologize for how that guy had spoken to me, I wrote that…

I was in a puddle again — just totally appreciative that she’d taken the time to call me and apologize for something that wasn’t even her fault. It is funny how having a witness to pain, having someone agree — that happened to you and it wasn’t right — somehow makes walking through something more bearable. {full post here}

The world is full of hurting people who just have to keep going, and we all long for somebody to sympathize with us, right where we are. They don’t have to fix anything. We just want them to care. Because if we know somebody cares, we can get through just about anything.

The Hero Hubs has been working crazy hard in the weeks leading up to this little one’s arrival. He’s looking forward to giving himself a little paternity leave when she does arrive, but this is a busy season with weddings, commercial work and other photo sessions, and as tired as he is, he knows for a little bit longer he needs to just keep going.

Instead of wallowing in loathing our individual discomforts in this season and seeing who can moan the loudest, I think we’ve done a decent job of showing compassion for each other, making sure we express our care, and even just our recognition that this isn’t an easy season for them. I try to help with his correspondence, he is wonderful and gets the groceries for me.

Our human tendency is to be the one who moans the loudest and expresses the most pain, but it’s so important in trying times to keep the perspective that the world is full of hurting people who just have to keep going.

There are plenty of Mamas who are very pregnant and just keep going, widows and widowers who feel like life is already over, but just keep going, people who show up at their job to find out the doors are closed and they don’t have a job anymore… and they have to keep going.

We all want to look down at our phones and see someone calling just to say I see you where you are, and I’m sorry it’s hard, and I wish it wasn’t.

Jesus showed up in a hurting world, and though He experienced pain that we can only begin to imagine, still His constant heartbeat was to reach out to the hurting, the forgotten, the overlooked, the passed-by. In a crowd of people, He stopped to find that one woman whose desperation pushed her through just to touch the hem of His garment in hopes of finding healing. He was a witness to her pain, and even though she’d already been healed, He didn’t want to miss the opportunity to say I see you where you are.

This morning, I saw my little girl expressing compassion and concern for a fictional character, and it reminded me that it is good and healthy, and a wonderful part of the human experience, for us to be compassionate and show concern for others who are hurting. I wonder — do we grow up and begin to feel so hurt ourselves it’s a challenge for us to keep noticing others who are hurting?

Even if you are going through a rock-bottom challenging season right now, dealing with pain in your body or aches in your soul or worries in your heart, remember that everybody’s got junk they’re walking with. That doesn’t make your pain less significant. Take comfort in knowing that you aren’t the only hurting person who feels like you just have to keep going.

Then take a moment to encourage someone else who might be walking through a hard time, struggling to keep putting one foot in front of the other today. You don’t have to be able to fix the problem to say you care. Expressing compassion can keep us soft-hearted and gentle in an all-too-often rough and tumble world. We can trust God to give us what we need to keep going, and, maybe, when we need it most, our fellow humans will be kind enough to return the favor.