Ann bought and gave me a pillow for Christmas last year bearing this message of hope.
I understood immediately the intended message and why she had picked it up. I was so touched by her sincerity and pure love.
Yet, it was a bit poignant as I placed it among the piles of pillows on our bed. I quietly understood that its message was now more applicable to Ann’s suffering than my own.
Sometimes I forget that my difficulties are pretty hard for others as well.
Years ago I read the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck. The opening lines read:
“Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult-once we truly understand and accept it-then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”
I have found this to be true in all important aspects of my life: marriage, family, work, health, and most importantly living the commandments – or at least doing my very best to be obedient.
Understanding that life is indeed more difficult than I alone can bear makes it not only bearable in the moment, but over time lessens the sheer weight of the burden.
Or, perhaps makes my shoulders stronger to help compensate for all that was being carried by Another.
Kind of like going from being out of shape to getting ready for a Mr. Universe contest.
But simply stripping away the softness and replacing it with sinew and lean muscle to enable us to keep going is not enough.
Even when we feel that we can, in fact, get up again tomorrow and put one foot in front of the other, one more time, things still don’t make a lot of sense about the whole process – especially in the present.
Honestly, many times it just feels kind of random.
You know, one of those “we chose plan B where there would be hardship and difficulty and bad stuff would just happen” kind of days.
So we hold on to the fact that even though it doesn’t make sense today, and we don’t understand the plan and we don’t see the finish line and we beat ourselves up on those days that our attitude is not up to the Pollyanna standard, we reassure ourselves that someday it will.
But what about today?
Just as understanding that life is difficult will help us get to the point that the hardship doesn’t really matter anymore, so too can coming to understand that the suffering doesn’t have to make any sense help us to tuck it in the back of our mind and find that it doesn’t really matter today whether or not it makes sense.
I’m not sure when it happened, probably just part of my testimony as it grows day by day, line upon line, and precept upon precept, but I realize that I’m no longer waiting for it all to make sense someday.
Whether or not it ever makes sense has become irrelevant.
Just as how hard it may or may not have been doesn’t really matter anymore.
Even when the physical and the mental continue to degrade.
And become more difficult.
It’s time that I open my eyes to see those around me who have struggled right along beside me through my difficulties.
And selflessly made them OUR difficulties.
Now my stronger, leaner, more muscular spirit quietly understands.
It actually does begin to make sense.
Service is strength; service is survival.
Now it’s my turn to help others understand that it’s okay not to understand.
Then, it will become their turn to reach out in comprehension of the incomprehensible.
And then, yours.
Over the years I’ve discovered this is what it means to truly live.
That’s something that makes sense to me. The rest, well, it just doesn’t really matter.