I’m so happy and grateful that I can relate. I can relate because I have suffered (and caused harm) and overcome.
Have you been hurt by someone, on purpose? I can relate. Watched a loved one endure pain you can only imagine? I can relate.
Stood by your mother and watched her breathe her last? Been the victim of senseless violence? Lost the love of your life? Fallen into depression, addiction, or self-mutilation? Been divorced? Lost your role as a parent to your own kids? Watched your current or former mate fall into someone else’s arms and bed? Had to give up on someone you love because only they can help themselves? Realized—too late to fix it—the immense pain you inflicted on someone close to you, who trusted you with his or her heart? Had two close friends die in the same way, on different continents, before age 25? Had a young friend take his or her own life? Been violated or otherwise abused? Watched somebody you love die from injury or illness? Carried your mother’s body to the funeral home vehicle? Been homeless for months? Had your heart and sense of self-worth stomped into the ground when you were little?
I can relate. We all can. We all share human life. Life isn’t always fucking peaches and cream.
Suffering is all the same, but it’s different. It all involves loss, it all makes us change the way we see ourselves and the world, and it’s all temporary. You can never lose that which is most important. As someone wise told me this week, “The pain goes away, but you keep the lessons you learned.”
We are strong. We are made of stuff so powerful that we can’t imagine our own strength until we are tested. Life throws pain and heartbreak in our direction so that we can become better because of it.
It’s like being refined in fire. How do you suppose steel would feel as it becomes stronger, better, and more beautiful and useful in the foundry? A samurai sword is bent, folded, hammered, and heated to intense temperatures to make it a worthy weapon in battle. And it is beautiful.
We are powerful, you and I. True power is beautiful. Take that fact and instill it in your bones. Weakness is temporary. Our strength endures.
We are Beauty, incarnated. We are Spirit, caught temporarily in the visceral, gritty web of this physical existence for awhile. We are here to endure, and overcome, and be better than we were yesterday, last month, or last year. We are not here to succumb to the storms of life. We are here to learn to navigate our vessel through every kind of weather, squall, gale, and hurricane—and to return our vessel to shore, whole and complete and functional.
We have the skills, the talent, the ability, and the will to overcome whatever Life throws at us. As another person said, “You will not be tested beyond what you can endure. But when you are tested, you will also be given the power to kick life in its ass.” (I Corinthians 10:13, paraphrased)
(Your King James Version and New International Version New Testaments use the word “tempted” instead of “tested” in this verse. The Greek word peirasomos can mean either “temptation” or “adversity.”)
Time does not heal. The unimaginable power of the human Spirit heals. It just takes time to do it because…well, because we’re human.
And we can do it over and over again, getting better and stronger every time.