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I know that everyone has their crosses to bear. No one is ever really spared hardship and I am no different. Yet I still do truly feel more blessed than crossed. I feel more gratitude than I do pity.

Life with sarcoidosis is my cross. But I know others have far greater crosses, heavier burdens that I can’t even begin to imagine and I am awed by such courage, by such grace.

I wouldn’t have predicted that I’d end up like this. I used to be so strong and so tough and so viral. But now I am weak. Yet in my weakness, a new appreciation for my life and the suffering of others has become known to me and this humbles me because I believe I have been given a gift only a special few come to know and that is the abiding awareness that everyone suffers.

I’ve come to better understand and better appreciate the journeys of other people. I don’t have to understand their experience anymore to feel their suffering and this is a blessing for me. I am able to be fully and utterly empathetic, free of judgement and free of comparison because I have also come to understand that we all handle our crosses differently. We all handle our crosses differently because each of us has our own very personal lessons to learn. I have no right to judge another because his lessons are different than mine.

I am freed from the burden of discrimination, of intolerance, of bias because I now know that comparing my cross to another person’s is the same as comparing my insides to another person’s outsides. I cannot know what is at the heart of someone else’s pain because that is a very private matter. I have come to learn that my only responsibility is to acknowledge, accept and appreciate the sorrows of others for what they are to them…not what I think they should be.