The Gift of Resilience

Have you ever wondered why suffering is allowed to exist in the world? I have. From my days wandering the banks of a little pond in Iowa in search of the perfect catfish, through my years as a young professional, and even into my current life, I’ve often been bothered by the reality of suffering.

My own suffering involves deeply personal experiences—sexual abuse at the hands of a physician as a child, a violent sexual assault in my twenties, and domestic abuse and gun violence at the hands of an ex-spouse. I don’t claim to have suffered more or less than anyone, but I have wondered about justice and what’s on the other side of suffering. And I have always somehow come through suffering carrying a little more resilience.

Perhaps the idea that some of us weather our suffering more than others haunts me a little—after all, what sets those people apart? Is there a “secret sauce” to getting through hardships, or is there hidden strength in some of our DNA? And is there a way to somehow navigate our inevitable suffering in a way that actually builds resilience? I believe there may be.

You see, if I look back, I can see that every instance in my life that produced resilience has roots in suffering. But look a little closer, and there was always hope. That sparkle of hope came from others, but it also came from within me. Sure, sometimes I suffered because of my own choices, and sometimes I suffered because of the destructive choices of others. But hope has been a catalyst for my own resilience more times than I can count. And trust me, I’m still counting.

But we can’t stop there, can we?

I think the answer to suffering in the world is actually—US. You and me. We each have a calling to spread hope and stop the suffering of others in our own unique way. We don’t have to answer it, but it remains. And whether you choose to answer that call in a small way, like encouraging a stranger, or you plan something more audacious, taking action truly does make a difference.

When you take action, big or small, to help someone else, you’re ultimately helping yourself, which equips you to help others, which helps…well, you get the picture.

So maybe I’ll never answer the question of why suffering exists in the world. And I’m pretty sure I’ll experience more suffering in my life. But along the way, I’ll be on the lookout for those people who need a little hope. And I’ll always, always be grateful for the gift of resilience.


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