woman suffering from a stomach pain

The Beauty that Comes from Struggle

This blog post reminds me of Talib Kweli's album, The Beautiful Struggle. I didn't know what that meant, until now.

I know a few of us have been going through pain the last couple years. That could be a struggle with mental health, or battling this virus with our physical health. It could be contemplating every measure of life like I have been doing the past couple years. I feel like I’ve questioned everything from my diet to my spiritual life. I’ve always prioritized growth, but you can’t have growth without pain. That was truly evident these past couple of years.

Culture tells us to avoid pain. Even worst, it tells us that if you go through pain, then it was you that inflicted it. You must have done something wrong. You made a mistake and you are now reaping the pain from your bad decision. I went from a good situation to a bad situation and I blamed myself. I ultimately came to realization that this cannot be true. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Pain is inevitable for everyone. If you’re not feeling pain, it ultimately means you’re not living life. When I struggle (not if), I know now to see the beauty in it. I want to find the good and the love in what I’m going through because it will help me out of it.

I think we aren’t able to reflect on our pain until we no longer feel it. That’s even if we are reflected. Some may get out of the pain without ever reflecting on what was learned. We go through without appreciating how resilient we were in the eye of the storm. I definitely have to do a better job of making sure that I give myself grace after going through something difficult. When we are sick, we are happy that the sore throat is gone, and that we can finally breathe out of our nose. Why not do the same when we go through issues that involve mental and spiritual hurt.

Today is a unique time where three different holidays from three religions meet for a day of communion: Ramadan, Passover, and Easter. I bring this up because I tend to equate struggle with those who fled Egypt and found themselves in the Wilderness on their path to the Promised Land. I’m sure each of these religions know the story. There’s a point in the story where God sense poisonous snakes that bit and kid some of the people. In order to remedy these snakes, God tells Moses to create a bronze snack and on a pole and whoever gets bit from the snake will be healed if they look at the pole. The moral of the story for me is to look up to the good while going through struggle. In most cases, the good is the very thing that is trying to kill you.

Strength from Pain

Sometimes we want to forget the pain because it’s gone, but the memory makes us stronger. It reminds us of who we are and what we’ve gone through. The best thing that pain can do is shape who we are as people. It shapes our character. That’s why you see those who come from poor beginnings to be more humble than those who’ve had money all of their lives. Those who don’t go through such pain may come off as shallow. The best part about pain is that if it occurs once again, you’re better equipped because of you have the experience to find strength in your struggle.

Be Humble

Another benefit of pain is that it humbles us. It makes us know that we are not in control. It pains me to tell this story, but my father was very healthy. I found books that he would read about eating whole foods. He would also use his treadmill to run each day. My dad would always talk about how young he felt. He had a lot of pride in his health. That soon changed when he was diagnosed with cancer. That cancer diagnosis seemingly came out of nowhere. Even with him trying to control his health, cancer taught me that nothing is in our control. It’s a very humbling feeling.

None of Us Are Exempt

Pain also helps you to empathize. While I was going through my mental struggle, my dad was also going through his physical struggle. Even with my dad having cancer, he always asked me how I was doing. He was able to put his pain aside to help me with mine. If I didn’t know if my dad truly loved me, I knew then. I would tell him what I’m going through, and he would tell me what he was going through. At the end of our calls, we would take turns praying for each other.

None of us are exempt from pain. This should make us all have compassion for our journey in life. Instead, we would rather not be vulnerable and fool people into believing that we are perfect. It shows us that we are all interconnected. Making a few different choices could have you on the street, so you give your money to the homeless because it could easily be you. I wish we showed this same empathy in our work relationships. It feels like once we walk into those doors, or head on that Zoom call, your emotions don’t matter.

Giving Up Control

The best way we can go through our struggle and see the beauty of it is if we surrender to the struggle. The truth is, pain is unpredictable. We can do whatever we want to be risk averse, but pain is going to come. We make plans and God laughs at us. Instead of trying to predict what’s going to happen next, we must learn and readjust to our situation.

Life is not a map. It’s a compass. It’s not just a compass. We are also in the dark and all we have is a flash light where we can only see our next step and nothing more. There’s no right way to do anything. We shouldn’t worry about things going wrong because wrong is subjective. We should have faith that everything we do is working for our good. Do what you can, but no that most of it is out of your control. If you believe that, it’ll be easy to let go.