“In this life, you will have trouble.”
This is a guest post from Jeff Goins: A dear friend, prolific writer and thinker. I know you will enjoy his insight into The Secret of Satisfaction.
Our culture is full of empty promises:
- How to get rich quick.
- Become successful in seven easy steps!
- Find your soulmate with one click of the button.
But what if chasing our own comfort and gratification wasn’t as fulfilling as we thought? What if something had to die in order for life to happen?
There’s a secret to satisfaction that Mother Teresa knew that proponents of the prosperity gospel don’t. It has to do with falling apart, with discomfort.
We find our life’s purpose not in resolution, but through struggle. This is the stuff of epic stories and true heroes’ tales. There has be a narrow path, a hard way, in order for the journey to be worth the destination.
We arrive at our destinies when we encounter pain, not pleasure. And if we are going to live the lives we were meant for, we’re going to have to be brave and step into the mess of life.
When you do this, three important shifts happen:
1. You realize life is not just about you.
Sure, you are a character in a story, but not the main one. Which means you don’t always get to be the hero.
Sometimes, the best we can do is play out the role we’ve been given as housewife, desk clerk, or gas station attendant. But something beautiful happens when we surrender to the larger story being told: we find joy in the most ordinary situations.
2. You learn empathy.
Sympathy means to feel sorry for someone without feeling what the other person feels.
An empathetic person, on the other hand, hurts with those who are hurting. This isn’t easy. But it is good.
C.S. Lewis once said, “Try to exclude the possibility of suffering which the order of nature and the existence of free-wills involve, and you find that you have excluded life itself.”
Pain is a part of life, and empathy is how we carry each other’s burdens.
3. You grow.
Without the downpour of rain, plants tend to wither and die. But who likes getting rained on? The same is true for our souls.
If we are not subjecting ourselves to the hardship of life, we are missing out on some of its fullness. As a result, we stagnate.
In order for us to find a meaningful life, we have to be willing to be uncomfortable, to be stretched into who we’re meant to be.
Maybe the most satisfying life that awaits us is a hard one, full of pain and discomfort. Maybe that’s the only thing we were ever promised. And maybe that’s not such a bad thing after all.
I would love to hear your comments of Jeff’s post. I love his thinking. I think you can see why we are confined to the same wonderful cell!! (-;
Jeff Goins is a writer who lives in Nashville. You can follow him on Twitter (@jeffgoins) or check out his blog. His book, Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into Your Comfortable Life, just came out.