Friday, August 15, 2008

The Struggles Of Life

All though my life in general has been very good, it has not been without struggle. All of the struggle was not personal. Sometimes they were the struggles of people I care about. I firmly believe that struggle is part of everyone's life. No one gets through life without it. Struggles can be financial, emotional, spiritual, work related, poor health, difficulties with relationships, or a myriad of other things. The regular experience of struggle, or the possibility of it being right around the corner, is part of the reason I think it is so important to live in the moment and to be grateful for all the goodness, beauty, and blessings in your life. We all wish we had an easy life but it is the struggles that form our character. Babies and young children like my granddaughter have innocent faces that are smooth and without lines. The struggles of life chisel our faces and when we are old our faces tell the story of our lives. Sometimes when people my age start to have gray hair, they run for the hair dye. I used to have a full head of hair and my hair and my beard were very brown. Now I am very bald and when my beard is long I look like Santa Claus. As I heard one person say, "I'm proud of my gray hairs. I've earned every one of them"! At certain times of my life when everything seemed a struggle and I sometimes felt overwhelmed, I thought the hard times would never end. Now I look back on the worst of times and they seem like bumps in the road. That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Courage comes from facing fears, persevering through struggles, and digging deep to find whatever you need to meet the challenge that is testing you in life. As I have often told my children, life is wonderful but it's also sometimes difficult.

In the past I have shared a few thoughts about work and how we shouldn't find our total identity in what we do. I shared the believe that we are not what we do. I am Michael, Dad, Pa Paw, Son, Brother, Spouse or Friend among other things. One of my friends and readers responded that many of us, even if we don't find our identity in work, still often find our identity in the different roles we assume. It occurred to me that I sometimes avoid identifying with the roles I play because I also think I am more than these roles. In other words, I am more than someone's husband, father, son,brother, or friend. What if we found our identities in characteristics rather than roles? What characteristics would describe who you are? When I list what I like to consider my personal characteristics, I want to say things like "I am spiritual. I am strong. I am compassionate. I am tolerant. I am forgiving. I am intelligent ". Of course, even if these were all true, I would also have to say things like "I am weak. I am lustful. I am lazy. I am procrastinating. I am undisciplined. I am sometimes an idiot." Buddha keeps it simple. When asked who he was, he simply replied, "I am awake". In reality I am a little of all these things. Some days my light shines bright and all around me are warmed by who I am. Other days my light is dimmed by my more human weaknesses and no one is impressed with me. On those days I rely on the light of others to energize and renew within me the best part of who I am. .

No comments: