“It takes courage to live through suffering; and it takes honesty to observe it.” – C.S. Lewis
I work with so many people who are struggling with significant adversity in their lives. I see people dealing with the hardest circumstance’s life has to offer and yet somehow find a way to keep it moving. As an Emergency Department (ED) Social Worker, sometimes people think my job is to “fix” people. Truthfully, I don’t feel the need to fix anyone. We are all just doing the best we know how. I am not separate from any of the humans who walk through the ED. On the contrary, I see myself in their struggle and suffering. We don’t have to go through the exact same life experiences to relate to each other on a human level.
I deeply believe that our struggles bring us wisdom, depth, and clarity.
I choose to look at most difficult circumstances as an opportunity to face life on life’s terms. For me, this means doing my best to be present. I think “presence” is a confusing term for some. I know it definitely has been for me. In my opinion, it’s because there is great mysticism about the present moment. Most of us don’t know how to be present and believe it’s beyond our capacity. But it’s really not all that complicated. It’s a simple allowing. My life has been filled with both happiness and sadness. Holding this understanding, and allowing both to have a place in my heart, allows me to be a little more present.
Now there are plenty of times this doesn’t happen. That doesn’t really matter though. Just keep trying, again and again. Two years ago, my husband and I moved from West Seattle to Gig Harbor. We moved away from our tight community and network of friends. We had to start from scratch to build a new community. For about six months I felt a deep loneliness. Being away from everything that was familiar gave me this sense of being untethered and lost at sea. To make matters worse, within the first month of being first-time homeowners we ran into one house issue and financial burden after the next. My husband and I vacillated between trying to keep a chipper attitude and taking our frustrations out on one another. We wondered out loud if we just made the biggest financial mistake of our lives. We kept saying, “how does home ownership not bankrupt people!?!”
I remember practically holding my breath during this period of our lives with no end in sight. We blew through our savings account and teetered on the edge of mental break downs. Despite all the pain and stress during this time, I understood this was all for something.
I knew somewhere along that this was a necessary growing pain.
We literally just had to put our heads down and get through it. During this time my husband and I began to go to couples counseling to have a place to vent and to move the needle closer to a better partnership. If you go through life with the fundamental understanding that bad things will happen to you – despite being a great person or doing everything “right” – there is freedom in that. These are all assignments the Universe has sent our way to teach us more about what it’s like in This Human Experience. Contrast brings clarity, telling you one preference over the other.
This does not mean to deny contrast but to respect it.